Make plans: Always have an activity to look forward to, at least every 2 weeks. This can be a vacation, a weekend away, dinner plans; you don’t have to spend any more money than you spend in your daily life to get together with friends. I always love when I have a sleepover planned with my cousin Jessica and her kids. These plans can act like markers or deadlines to accomplishing goals in your professional or home life. (But not too many plans!)
I had the pleasure to interview Lynda Salerno Gehrman. Lynda founded Physio Logic Pilates & Movement in 2006, opening two studios in New York City. She maintains her training as a dancer and is a faculty instructor for BASI Pilates, of which her studios have served as the Teacher Training Centers of NYC for over a decade. Through collaborating with her husband’s integrated medical/ wellness center at their Brooklyn facility, she’s able to watch the full spectrum of Pilates benefits in action.
Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
Iwas dabbling in dance /cheerleading as a child, but I felt a literal calling to technically train at about the age of 9. At the age of 15, I started pre-professional training in Boston, and it was there that I first experienced a taste of Pilates in a dance class. I then started spending all of my babysitting money on private lessons. I was experiencing, firsthand, the benefits of wellness, integration, cross training, and recovery methods before it was the trend or before anyone told me these key words.
I just needed to improve my dancing and fix my parts. I was teaching dance from the age of 16, and Pilates from 19, so I have grown up with the work, incorporating Pilates principles naturally into everything. Experiencing bodywork and integrating Pilates with other modalities wasn’t something I appreciated until my 20s. It was another piece of the puzzle for me to unlock my potential and undo blockages in my body and access my full potential. When I met my husband who is a chiropractor, I not only appreciated the benefits of fixing my sprained ankle at the time, but we started collaborating right away seeing each other’s patients and students. As suspected we were maintaining the best of each other’s work. An injured student can’t do their Pilates moves without getting fixed, and someone who doesn’t do mindful movement isn’t going to hold the resetting made by their practitioner. Rudy, with me and my studios as the sidekick, have brought together a team making up integrating departments: physical therapy, spine and sports medicine doing regenerative medicine like stem cell therapy, massage therapists, and clinical/functional nutrition. My husband and I both practice what we preach and see everyone in our practice, it’s why I’m still dancing pain free. For example, Rudy recently saved his knee from major surgery with stem cells with Dr Palvia and was back to extreme skiing within the same ski season, and our nutritionist Michelle helped me see that while I seemed healthy, I actually had high inflammatory markers in my bloodwork. When she helped me bring those down, I didn’t even know I could feel so good.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I was in a pop band with a record deal, touring the UK signing autographs, as pretty much my first job out of college. And I can’t even sing!
I taught an 80-year-old man how to find his pelvic floor muscles in his first lesson with me. He needed to tap into his transverse abdominals to protect himself from hernia, among other things. Yes, men have pelvic floor too.
I am well versed as a Contractor/Interior Designer, having completed 7 major renovations between my two studios and my husband’s clinic in my first 9 years of business. The most interesting part is that I am still married!
Another interesting thing that has happened to me since starting my career, is that my real job is truly teaching Pilates, and not just incorporating it into my dance classes. I discovered this with the men’s basketball team in college. At that time, applying Pilates to a sport was something that hadn’t yet occurred to me. Their coach took interest in watching my training sessions at the university gym where I would warm up before long dance rehearsal days. He saw the benefits it could have for his players and he asked me to train his team. I was too nervous to do it at first, but he was so sure it would be a success that I couldn’t say no. It was this experience that made me realize that anyone wanting to be a more skilled mover on any level should be studying Pilates and that every exercise could be modified to suit the body in front of me. I think this experience plays crucial to my ability to apply Pilates to my student’s life outside the studio. This really has become my specialty.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
When I was living in London, I went to one of my first auditions for what I thought was a small show, but I made the mistake of not looking further into the fact that it was for podium dancing…. I was locked in this big beautiful theater, which I soon learned doubled as a nightclub, in central London with all these super funky, amazing, dressed to the nines, dancers. I was in my solid black professional ballet/jazz attire.
When it was my turn, in pairs of two, the lights went dark, multiple colored strobe lights turned on, and I was standing (barely) on a 2×2 platform dancing to the song “jump around” and marveling at my partner and his insane abilities to do gymnastics on this thing.
Needless to say, I didn’t get (or want) the job but it led me to meet an amazing girl named Rachel, who helped me start my professional dance career. It was ultimately because of her that I was in a pop band and got to do so many shows and videos in places I never thought of. She liked (making fun of) my style.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I see the common needs of us as humans when it comes to wellbeing, from the professional athlete to the fitness novice or injured and how we should be pushed to reach our highest potentials. But there is a simplicity under all the complex science, research, and fitness trends that will always be evolving. My language is movement, specifically Pilates, but I also guide people to other pieces of their puzzle.
The team my husband and I have put together enables us all to reach people with modalities they might not have thought to try, and that can be life changing for them and us. My colleagues are not only brilliant Pilates instructors, but also medical doctors breaking ground with stem cell therapies, chiropractors, PTs, massage therapists, and clinical nutritionists. We all get to see our work highlighted when our services work together.
As a faculty for BASI Pilates, I am privileged to be a part of these new teachers’ journeys. I encourage them to always build on their knowledge, their intuition, and to practice what they preach, without ever losing sight of the simplicity that must be the foundation.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My dad and my husband.
When we were dating in my 20s, my now husband, besides entrusting me as a Pilates instructor to his injured patients, asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I said it was exactly what I’m doing now: teaching Pilates and dancing, but that I want my own studio eventually. He had me on the phone with a realtor the next day. He pushes me always; we are a great team, especially since I am more content with keeping it simple.
My dad always built me up, there was nothing I couldn’t do in his eyes. Although he never understood the whole dance thing and couldn’t pronounce Pilates. He made me work if I wanted something. He paid for half of my dance classes, and none of my weekly private Pilates lessons. I cleaned the mirrors, swept the floors, and locked up the dance studio in Boston at night before commuting home 3 days a week all through high school. I even dismissed myself from school 1 day a week to take classes. My parents gave me the freedom to do what most teenagers would never be allowed to do. If I saved money, he would match it and I later studied abroad. When I told him I would open both of my studios in my 20s, he gave me a modest loan with the stipulation that I finish an extensive business plan.
Growing up, when I disliked a subject or a teacher in school, my friends would get extra help or transferred to a different class. My dad would say “adapt, you need to learn to adapt and create good habits. You are going to have to do things you don’t like your whole life and how you do this is how you will do everything.” He couldn’t have been forecasting my life as a business owner any more clearly.
Additionally, I had a crazy dream, and I don’t usually ever remember dreams. I was in a big room with all of my dance teachers from childhood till now, some who have passed away. It was so surreal. For me it wasn’t one of them in particular, it was everyone. I realized that it is the small stuff that helps us achieve our goals, even the encouragement from acquaintances. For me, it was even a woman in the dressing room when I was 15 years old advising me to start Pilates. I see it every day in my studios; students complimenting other students, teachers teaching teachers. It is our ability to not take these interactions lightly. Constantly put yourself in front of teachers and coaches to get feedback, both positive and constructive. It is how we grow. We need each other.
We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives.
From my experience working with so many people, the most common blockages that prevent us from being our best selves are:
- Time management: We all can make more time if we prioritize. Schedule in your exercise, meal prep, even your bedtime.
- Family or partners that don’t support or encourage your goals: It is so hard to take time for yourself if you don’t feel supported. It might be hard to justify to a partner why you are spending time or money on better quality ingredients, a trainer or a massage. My advice is easier said than done, but feel no guilt!
- Self-doubt: We all have it, but like in my daughter’s Elmo book, “there is only one you, and nobody does the things that you do.” So stop; when you leave this earth and move on, you won’t take any of the applause or awards anyway, just a happy heart.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”?
- Pick a skill: Become a skilled mover, get your exercise that way. Study dance or a martial art. I am partial to Pilates because it is a codified system and you can really goal set and develop a skilled body. Sometimes mindless gym sessions or classes are just what you need, but if you goal set then it becomes about the purpose and honing that skill.
- Get it delivered: Literally make time. So much time can be saved by having groceries and household items delivered. I honestly can say that Instacart has made me a better person. It is available in more zip codes than you might think, I even have deliveries to hotels waiting for me upon arrival. I grocery shop on my phone while on the subway and then I can enjoy a farmer’s market or walking to buy fresh specialty items in my neighborhood. I will share that my husband and I used to joke about how many napkins would come with our takeout since it would often serve as our household paper products. Now we have fresh food, paper towels, and extra time each week to take care of me or to spend with my family. I advise that you use the saved time for you and not for more work or social media.
- Free your mind: Keeping closets organized is something I see a direct correlation to in my professional life. Marie Kondo is not joke. In addition to her advice to ask if an item brings you joy, I ask myself “if I were moving for 2 years, would I bring it with me?” I then allow myself 2 bins of “I love you-but I don’t need you-but I can’t let go yet.”
- Meditate with your pet, or even someone else’s pet. If you think you don’t know how to meditate, spend time laying or sitting with a dog or cat. The energy exchange is an instinctual meditation and I find it to be as beneficial as planned mediation time. Anyone who has ever met my dogs would agree, they spend a lot of time at our practice so come visit!
- A smoothie a day: invest in a blender and a cooler cup to keep for lunch, it is such a good way to dose up on all the green stuff, frozen fruit, supplements that you may take, healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, nut butters, protein, collagen and/or superfood powders. And they are so yummy. It will keep your energy up during the midday lull that many people feel and fills you up.
- Make plans: Always have an activity to look forward to, at least every 2 weeks. This can be a vacation, a weekend away, dinner plans; you don’t have to spend any more money than you spend in your daily life to get together with friends. I always love when I have a sleepover planned with my cousin Jessica and her kids. These plans can act like markers or deadlines to accomplishing goals in your professional or home life. (But not too many plans!)
- Just say no: especially living in NY, where it is possible to accomplish more in one day than a human was designed to do. You have to be disciplined to say no to the one more trip around town, to a dinner party, concert, meeting, coffee date, or even that load of laundry. My husband and I always have a hard time with weeknight plans. We make plans and them find ourselves ready to recharge at the end of the day no matter how fun the event might be. It is important to be self-aware enough to know what you need.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain
I love this question because I find that weight loss comes for people if they focus on the benefits instead:
- It improves your mental state: When we exercise it stimulates endorphin production. This brings on the feeling of euphoria, activating opioid receptors in the brain that alleviate pain or discomfort in the body. While I have heard some debate about the exact science of what some call the “runners high,” one thing for sure is that exercise increases the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine which travel through the nervous system and literally cheer you up and help you deal with stress. I believe this repetition of positive coping skills forms personal habits that translate to when you have a stressful situation and can’t find time to exercise.
- Improves your decision making and time management: Csíkszentmihályi Mihály named the flow state in the 70s, but this idea has been around for thousands of years, particularly in Buddhism. In simpler terms, it can be: getting in the zone, being hyper-focused in a positive way, creative, loosing sense of time, feeling a sense of control, concentration, awareness (all the Pilates principles actually, but that is a separate interview.) It really is when we are using our skills but still feeling a challenge that puts us in this state. And then, the effects after are that we think more clearly and creatively, can sit still and make better use of our time. I was on a ski trip with Steven Kotler who wrote The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, which explains how athletes reach this flow state and how we can use this state to enhance our performance in everyday life.
- Healthier organs and healthier everything: Our nervous system controls everything. Our nervous system lives inside our spine and starts at the brainstem. Every vertebrae you see and feel is part of the house that protects our life force. Each vertebrae correlates to a part of the nervous system that is in charge of a muscle, a skin patch, and an organ. So we have to take care of our body and our posture through mindful movement and exercise. Basically everyone should know a Pilates regime. And yes, I am married to a chiropractor, but I preach this more than he does!
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical.
- Thoughtful walking/stairs: We all do it so there is no excuse. We shouldn’t just carry ourselves around. Use walking as a way to improve posture, tone muscles, and articulate your feet. Walk up and down stairs using your feet and your butt, not just your back and your knees.
- Pelvic curl: hip extensor activation to cancel out tight hip flexors
- Back extension: upper back strengthening and lengthening to counter computer slump.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long-term injury?
Don’t stop just because you are sore, or the cycle will continue. It is of course important to recognize good sore from injury sore. Let’s assume here that you are a good sore from working hard.
Pilates is amazing because we work eccentric muscle contractions which feel like they flush away muscle soreness or muscles that are bound up.
For me, I work though soreness by working on opposing muscle groups. If you are sore in your quads work your butt and hamstrings. If you are sore all over your legs, you can do a stretch, alignment, balance session or work your feet, abs, and arms. A smart athlete will use their soreness to guide them to proper cross training. For example, when my legs are sore and heavy, I accept that my range of motion will be smaller that day and instead of forcing my usual range and getting injured, I work more on balance and stability.
Epsom salt baths and upping your electrolyte intake is always helpful, along with recovery massage. The massage therapists that work with me at Physio Logic do this for NY pro athletes and it is very successful.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I don’t follow a particular diet. I love food and sharing meals with family and friends is an important part of my life. I find it beneficial and so I instill in my loved ones (this includes my students) to know if you are eating something simply because it tastes good or because it is nourishing your body. Both are important, but the ratio should be a healthy one. Be educated on what is in your food. Make conscious decisions to nourish your body and equally enjoy yourself.
Personally since I am teaching, training and dancing all week, I typically eat healthy: a delicious iced coffee in the am with almond and oat milk, avocado toast or granola as a mid-morning snack, eggs if I am lucky. Lunch is almost always a fat-packed smoothie lately with greens, blueberries, banana, almond butter, coconut oil, standard process powder. I always snack when I get home on fruit, crackers, Spicy Lime Late July chips are a favorite of even my almost 2-year-old daughter. Dinner is large, I always feel like I’m refueling for the next day. It is usually a protein like salmon or grass-fed beef along with veggies and or a veggie noodle.
I pretty much always have dessert:) I am loving coconut milk and cashew milk ice cream lately and chocolate covered almonds are always in stock in our house. Weekends it’s whatever, like nice big breakfasts. I am an expert at almond flour pancakes and everyone who tries them is in love too. Whatever we are doing socially or at restaurants, it’s pretty much always Italian on Sundays 🙂
It isn’t my rule to strictly follow the 80/20, diet but it’s proof to me that we crave healthier foods when we are more active. I also tend to feel not as great in my joints when I eat a lot of gluten, so I buy a lot of almond/coconut/rice flour products to keep my carb intake up.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I read Martha Grahams book “Blood Memory” in college and it helped make me certain of my path in Pilates and dance on every level, the stage being a tiny part. I highlighted almost every line in there. I feel like I wrote this book! There was a quote something like, “If someone asks me should I be a dancer then the answer is no”. I loved this quote because at the time I felt I had so far to go but I didn’t care.
“People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose.” I also try to instill the following in my friends or students who get frustrated at their accomplishments- “You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It all boils down to choice and habits. People must make their own and create their own. But people empower people. We need to educate on the power of real wellness in schools and in the media.
There should be classes in schools. There should be commercials on tv not about new drugs and their side effects, but listing the side effects of how people are sitting there watching tv! Educate the public about systems in the body, not symptoms. Posture, the choice we make in how we carry ourselves, this effect not only on our activities, but on our nervous system. Is the food you eat nourishing or does it just taste good? What is the immune system and how does it work? What is homeostasis?
I think when someone truly knows these answers they will always choose to live a life of wellness. A balanced life without extremes.
I know there are so many problems in the world, but I was put on this earth to move people and the trickle down effect is limitless. So if I could use my powers to bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, we would go back to the basics. Not to be a victim of our bodies but to live in them. I believe we should teach people to really feel good, teach posture in school and proper body mechanics, teach correct activation and motion patterns in all pre-professional, and professional sports. We should bring a system into the workplace for the sick and for the underprivileged.
So many issues and injuries are the result of “overuse,” an overused excuse, but actually its misuse. For example, our knee might be overused in relation to how underused our intricate hip and gluteal muscles are, or our pelvic placement may be incorrect and not allowing us to access those muscles. I could give dozens of examples. I am in the early stages of working on a project that could hopefully make this movement happen, so stay tuned!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“You get what you work for, not what you wish for.” Howard Tullman. This is one of so many brilliant quotes. It relates to all aspects of my life. Although I hit the lottery when it comes to my husband, family and friends, everything else is the result of very hard and endless work, from my feet to owning a business in NYC. Nothing has come easy really. However, adopting our daughter was a perfect combo of wish and work. It took a lot of work and analyzing our deepest intuitions, but ultimately I dreamed her up!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
To talk peak athletic performance: Tom Brady, Giselle can come too:) Yes I grew up in Massachusetts, but even if I wasn’t a Patriots fan, this man has yet to prime and he’s in his 40s. Joseph Pilates says in his book, “….our prime of life should be in the 70’s ….” I stick by this and I think Tom and Giselle will prove this to be true as well. I would have Tom Brady do a Pilates session after lunch!
To talk health: Ashley Graham. I have actually spoken to her and she is a beaming ray of light and an amazing role model to us all. A natural beauty who calls her own shots. I would love to collaborate with her on empowering young girls.
To laugh: Jerry Seinfeld. I am obsessed and find myself in Seinfeld episodes all the time. He and his wife are so kind, they actually stopped us in Formentera, Spain to tell us how beautiful our daughter was. We spoke briefly but I felt a friendship budding.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Instagram @lyndalogic and our business is @physiologicnyc