My first love was flowers; my second, gymnastics. The local club bent the rules to allow me to start younger than policy; I never missed a practice. This was the beginning of my understanding of the physical capacity of the human body.
Later, in my teenage years, serious illness close to home changed the way I looked at medicine. The treatment and medication did the job, but the side effects were as consequential as the ailment. I became intrigued in alternative sciences, by the power, simplicity, and minimalism of working on people with my hands.
Only a couple of weeks after turning 19, I was a registered and working massage therapist. I loved the interview aspect of the job, asking leading questions, gathering information about the client’s injury. I adored listening, relating to the circumstance, calculating events, and mentally mapping a theory based on the information spoken and unspoken.
My success in massage therapy was thanks to my listening skills; my ability to listen to the person as a whole and to then drop some of that story and listen deeper to his or her tissue. I refused to repeat ideas or make assumptions. I knew my anatomy well and I completely believed in myself and my judgement.
I was able to make some profound changes in people over those 10 years. While I educated them, they educated me. Those quiet times in the treatment room completely inform my teaching.
In 2011, I became a Certified Yoga Instructor. After working for a studio for 3-4 years I opened my own. My twenties were very concentrated; I’m 30 and recently retired from massage: I now see all of those hours of treatments and teaching as my data collection years.
I left center to collect data, to study people. I still collect. My brand ‘Make Art, Ride Bikes,’ is my pilgrimage back to center.
Why Make Art Ride Bikes? Because I don’t believe that you understand a place or its people until you bike it. I have bike toured British Columbia, Hawaii, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Iceland. On the road carrying only what I needed, my memories were most crisp and my writing most automatic.
Interpreting the world from a bike is about the in-betweens, and so is the way I teach. I don’t care about the city, I care about the many roads leading into and out of it; I don’t care about the fancy yoga pose, and I’m interested in how you get into it and out of it. I’m interested in the infrastructure that too often gets overlooked. I hope to teach people how to navigate.
Art is everywhere, but sometimes you have to point it out, highlight it. There is movement, and there is moving through the world, and that’s art. Teaching is an art; teaching is providing your student with the whole world up until that moment.
I sold my studio last year; under Make Art Ride Bikes, I’m me. I am boldly all of my influences; Make Art Ride Bikes is the basement of my imagination, my perspective as a person who does a lot of movement in a lot of different settings, and my years of data collection.
I don’t pack up nicely into the yoga box, maintaining what is true to me requires relentless amounts of self-preservation. People may dwell on old Amy, but my eyes remain very far forward. I think it’s important to emphasize that I find it incredibly hard to do exactly what I want: to crusade for more strength and attention for everyone.
I once loved asking the questions. Now I really love being asked, and answering questions. The platforms for this role reversal, and what I do with my time these days, are: private movement lessons, custom movement videos, workshops, and yoga teacher training.
Working one-on-one with clients is sharing their joy of realization. In yoga teacher training, I help teachers understand class structure by breaking it apart and putting it back together. Offering people structure leaves them space to be themselves and for improvisation. It is incredibly rewarding to witness how creative and different all of the alumni turn out.
The process of creating custom home movement videos for clients is my heart right now. Custom videos are a unique blend of teamwork and absolute independence and accountability. Based on interview, much like massage, I work on the puzzle of the client’s history and predicament. I offer little movements that make the person resilient in a big way; I let them experience change and come back to me with questions. Much of what I teach is physical un-doing.
Solutions are exciting but effort must be ongoing. We will spend our lives fighting gravity - we might as well take an interest.
I do worry about the insight and inspiration that we are not-having by not-moving. I think about the art we are not making, the ideas that stay locked up in our bodies when we do explore them.
I believe in the trickledown effect. I believe the wonder and wander of movement can de-clutter confusion, change moods, and provide space in every sense of the word.
It has never been easy, but easy is empty. I am what I do.
entrepreneur, mover, mountain biker, road cyclist, trail runner, hiker, creative writer, poet, music lover