I found out about the Meridian Flexibility System through a seemingly random conversation with a stranger in the Phoenix, Arizona airport. At the time, I was not interested in fitness, sports, or alternative medicine, nor had I ever been. The only steps I had taken to live a healthy lifestyle was by improving my diet, which I was forced into due to the ulcer I developed two years prior at 17 years of age.
The doctor had told me that my diet was not bad enough to cause the ulcer. He also told me that ulcers could sometimes be caused by stress. He never elaborated on exactly how stress can cause physical illness in the body, so perhaps this is what caused me to be open to receiving information in the future that would offer more details on how this could occur. Additionally, I had suffered from asthma since I was four years old. I was never very excited about having to resort to steroid inhalers and other forms of medicine just to be able to breathe. Perhaps that is why I continued to converse with the stranger at the airport.
While talking about Meridian Stretching in the airport, I was exposed to more information about the interconnectedness of the body, mind, spirit, emotions, and health than I ever thought was possible. The moment and conversation we shared seemed incredibly special, as if I was receiving a very special message. I was naturally curious, and also very skeptical, but I reserved judgment and downloaded as much information from him as possible. I found the physical concept to be fascinating while being intrigued by the spiritual, emotional, and psychological aspects of the system. He left me a card with his phone number, the creator of the system’s phone number, Bob Cooley, and his website address. We were both flying into the same city so we planned to meet the next day to stretch.
Well, I didn’t call him the next day because that day was Christmas and I didn’t want to invite some random person over to my family’s house. I did however check out Bob’s website, and began doing some of the stretches that were outlined there. Time went on, and over that time I began thinking about Meridian Flexibility more and more. After some time, I decided to do what I should have done long before: call Chris to learn more about the system. I called the number and was disappointed to learn from the unknown person on the other line that his phone number had changed. So, I decided to call this guy, Bob, who I had never met or even talked to. I reached him on the phone and explained to him how I came to hear about his system and that I wanted to know more about it.
Bob responded by inviting me to a teacher training intensive out in San Jose, CA. Well, I did want more information, but did not have in mind traveling all the way to the west coast for it. Nor was I interested in paying for a teacher training intensive, as I had no plans to teach. I also did not have a place to stay on the west coast. However, I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass by. This was my only chance to learn more about the system, as I had already come to understand as much as I could from the website, and Bob’s first book, The Genius of Flexibility, was a few years away from being released.
I was feeling discouraged and decided to talk to two of my good friends, Kim and Brandon, about the whole story. After hearing everything, they became excited and interested in learning more about the system as well. Before long, they committed to driving out to California with me to attend the training. Then, Bob offered to house and feed the three of us for the two weeks that we would be there. That was the tipping point.
We arrived at Bob’s mountaintop home in San Jose, CA late at night after driving non-stop from Austin, TX. Bob greeted us at the door letting us know that he had just finished cooking some delicious organic soup for all of us, so we sat down and ate together. I remember him saying, “I don’t know what’s crazier… the fact that you three drove all the way out here to California from Texas to stay with a complete stranger and attend a teacher training intensive for a system that you know almost nothing about, OR the fact that I invited three complete strangers to stay with me in my home.”
At the intensive, I found myself analyzing and moving my body in ways that I had never considered. Others were also there to move my body in ways that I could not accomplish alone. To top it off, I was also learning and applying the skills necessary to help others move in ways that they too could not accomplish alone. I was suddenly transported into a world where a powerful overview of the body and the connections associated with moving the body in specific ways were analyzed and applied.
My whole world changed over the course of the training as my muscles began being worked in ways that they had never been before. I absorbed immense amounts of information in regards to muscles, meridians, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga, genetic personality types, exercise, strengthening, stretching, organic food, organic clothing, organic furniture, organic everything, alternative health, and much more.
After the intensive, I returned home to life as usual. Only, it was no longer usual. I found myself continuing to stretch and strengthen my body in ways that I never had before and it was at many times happening naturally without conscious effort. I would awaken to find myself automatically moving by body through patterns while resisting and I even discovered that I was instinctively stretching while asleep. More and more I would take a break from the normal routine of things and sprawl out on the floor instead, naturally moving my arms and legs in ways that they wanted and needed to move.
Stretching It Out
I began stretching my friends and myself routinely. As I mentioned before, I was never into sports or exercise, but Resistance Flexibility & Strength Training (RFST) thrilled me. It was something that I could do anywhere without needing any additional equipment. There was no need for me to go to a gym, or even a special outdoor facility. I could practice alone or with the assistance of others. Plus, it made me feel really good! I was making more change in my body than I ever knew was possible.
I became aware of my body’s profile, understanding exactly which muscles were weak and needed strength training and which muscles were tight and needed resistance stretching. Becoming aware of the asymmetries and imbalances of my body while also being equipped with a powerful tool to change and improve specific aspects of myself left me with no choice but to begin seeking out the needed improvements and making them happen.
I became aware of how it feels to be tight versus flexible, and weak versus strong as I worked on myself and got worked on by others. There was a substantial impact not only my physical self, but on all aspects of my being when the health of a particular muscle group was upgraded. It first was as simple as noticing how good I felt when a particular muscle group was healthy versus noticing how bad I felt when the same muscle group was not functioning optimally.
As I continued in my practice, I began to discover how the tight and weak muscles in my body prevented me from expressing myself in certain ways. As I removed tension and strengthened those weaknesses, my personality began to change and I was able to become more expressive than I had previously. My digestion, bowel movements, breathing, sleep, concentration, energy levels, sex drive, and more improved, to say the least.
From the Dark to the Light
Then one night I had a bewildering experience while self-stretching. I had started by going through some of the routine self stretches. But, I eventually discarded the preformatted self-stretches and instead began to intensely follow my attention. I began moving in a rhythmic motion back and forth, letting my body guide me as I continuously resisted. Before too long, my resistance increased to an unprecedented level. As this happened, I began to feel as I if was "falling into a line" and with that line came a rush of energy. My vision began to black out and I felt like I was being pulled back in time. I snapped myself out of it because I was scared, and wasn’t ready to go to wherever it was that I was going. Although I snapped myself out of it, everything had changed! Everything my eyes could see was more vibrant and alive. My connections to people and things were solid as if we were all the same thing! Everyone and everything was shining. That experience was the final straw that ended my initial and long held skepticism of the supposed connections between the body and the mind, spirit, and emotions. I knew that this was something special.
Over time, RFST helped me to become aware of specifically how the health of a particular muscle group affected my spiritual, emotional, and psychological health. It became obvious to me that when a major change was made in the physical self, the same change would be applied to all other aspects of my self. My world turned inside out as I began to realize and understand the connections between my inner self and the world around me, as well as my perception of it. I found myself on a quest to explore and improve every aspect of my body and my self.
The revelations became so life impacting that a growing sense of duty to share this knowledge with others emerged. What began as a curious probe into a modality of self and assisted healing transformed into a powerful tool that I was using to upgrade others and myself. The positive impact on the lives of everyone I introduced to it only encouraged me to continue to spread the word.
Staying in the Game
A couple of years later, I was in New York City with two of my friends. I knew Bob was living in NY at the time, and that his first book, The Genius of Flexibility, had been released, so I decided to give him a call. He told me that he was starting up another instructor certification program and that the first training was to be held that next weekend. The certification had been revamped to include newer methods of RFST and the courses had been broken up into five programs instead of weekend intensives. I wasn’t prepared to undertake another training, but my passion for the work and my love for the people that practice it could not be contained. Before I knew it, I was back in the Meridian Stretching game, attending the certification, reviewing what I originally learned, while taking in new information that had been recently developed.
Stepping it Up
Over the course of several months, I would fly into NY and stay a week for the trainings, and then fly back to Austin. Meanwhile, back in Austin, I introduced my good friend Susan to Resistance Stretching. Susan had a background practicing and teaching Pilates, so she immediately identified with the work and totally loved it. She began encouraging me to start putting it out into the world by teaching. At the time, I was already teaching myself, my friends, and other random people. I didn’t begin studying the system to become a teacher, but the idea became more appealing over time. After all, why was I spending all of this time and money to become certified? Plus, the work was doing so much for myself and everyone I exposed to it. It only made sense to take the next step and put it out into the world on a grander scale by teaching formally in a studio. Susan hooked me up with her Pilates studio and I began teaching weekend workshops.
Upgrades All Around
By this point, my life had changed dramatically. I had begun to prioritize living an organic lifestyle. I started to prefer and prioritize eating nutrient rich organically grown food instead of whatever was the cheapest and most widely available. I could no longer buy products without considering the potential chemicals and procedures used during production, the impact on the lives of the people who created it, as well as the product's environmental impact on our Earth where it was produced. Organic, sustainable, fair trade, and local products became appealing and preferred. The upgrades my body was experiencing required an equal upgrade from my outside world.
At a certain point, I decided to make Resistance Flexibility Training my full time job. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, because even though Bob’s book had been released, there were still relatively few people who had even heard of Bob or the Meridian Flexibility System, much less had even considered the idea of “getting stretched.” I didn’t know how, but I was determined to find a way to teach full time.
As life would have it, as soon as I made the decision, I received a phone call from Kate Wodash, a Pilates teacher in Austin, TX. She had found Bob’s book and wanted to learn more about the system. So, I taught a workshop at her studio with her clients and everyone loved it, of course. Afterwards, she asked me what I was doing with my time, and I told her that I had just made the decision to teach full time and was looking for studio space. Pleasantly surprised, Kate told me that she had been searching for someone to share her studio with, and not only that, but she was so impressed with the results from RFST that she wanted to get certified. It was a perfect match. I was looking for a space to teach and she was looking to share her space. I was the only Meridian Flexibility Trainer in the central and southern United States and she was going to become a trainer as well. It only made sense for us to do it together. That’s when I formed my business, Flexible Strength.
Teaching in a formal setting allowed me to reach a whole new audience. People with pain, serious injuries, chronic tension, stress. Athletes, musicians, performers, artists, authors. People who wanted to stay youthful as they aged. Many types of people. I loved being able to help others live the lives they wanted to, by teaching them how to use this amazing tool to improve and maintain their health. I also loved being able to make a living practicing one of my greatest passions while helping people at the same time.
It all started off with me practicing in a private setting, such as my home, or someone else’s. Then it was practicing in the studio. But, over time, I began to practice wherever I was at. It no longer made sense for me to put off working on my body or another person’s body when the present moment was always providing ample opportunity for the work, especially since RFST can be practiced at any time and any place.
I increasingly found myself stretching in social situations. At first, I was very apprehensive to stretching myself in public, or social situations, as I felt that it was out of line. For example, one day, I had a layover in an airport and was feeling very stiff from sitting on the previous flight in such a small space for so long. The norm for airports is to find your terminal, talk to the ticket agent if necessary, and then sit down, wait for your plane to arrive, stand up, walk into the plane, and sit down again. Now, sometimes, I have no problem doing this. But this time, in the airport, I was immensely aware of tension in my body. The tension was so apparent, that it was obvious to me how it was affecting my ability to be comfortable in my body, in the moment, and communicate effectively in conversation. What was I to do? I could force myself to fit into the norm of the group and sit in the standard pattern, I could excuse myself to go find a private place to stretch, OR I could just stretch right there where I was! But, was this allowed? I felt like I was breaking some sort of cultural boundary by stretching in a setting where it does not normally occur.
I was perplexed for a while as to what to do in these situations. But over time, I came to realize that while people at first may wonder what I’m doing, it really doesn’t bother them in the end, as I’m just doing my own thing. It might be very different from their thing, but it’s still my thing nonetheless, and it really doesn’t even intrude on their experience. Or, it might even benefit their experience if they decide to inquire as to what I’m doing, and then join in!
At the airport, I determined that sitting with the tension was intolerable, especially considering that I was about to board yet another plane with cramped quarters. Searching for a private area in the airport seemed silly to me, so I just got on the floor, right where I was at, in my own space, and stretched myself. There was a group of flight attendants nearby waiting for the same flight. They became interested in what I was up to, and we sparked up a lovely conversation while I stretched. Time went on, and so did I, feeling good, much better than I did before.
Among my friends, I became known for being very passionate about RFST. More and more of them became turned on to the work and we began practicing together. I would throw “Feel Good Together” parties every Sunday where I encouraged everyone to bring something to the group that would cause others to feel good. My offering would be Resistance Stretching and mashing. Others would bring music, art, massage, or whatever they felt inclined to offer.
Before long, I became the “stretching guy” at the party, in the grocery store, on the street, or wherever I was at. Although I was loving formal instruction via private sessions and classes in a studio, I equally as much loved teaching informally in any type of situation. Stretching in public became the norm for me. Part of it was me wanting to be comfortable in any type of setting at any time. Part of it was me wanting to reach out to people and let them know about RFST. Part of it was me wanting to let people know that they have the right to take steps to be comfortable in their space, wherever they might be. Part of it was me breaking out of the social patterns that so many of us mold ourselves into that don’t necessarily reflect our true nature.
Part of it was me realizing that we all live so much of our lives performing a particular activity in a particular place, such as work, and that we rarely come even close to utilizing these spaces to their fullest potential. We are expected to perform certain activities in these environments, but by no means does that mean that we can’t also incorporate activities that are not only good for the company, but also good for the person doing the work. Activities such as RFST could be easily incorporated to allow the worker and the company to simultaneously flourish.
Everyone Stretch Everywhere
Stretching with resistance and getting stretched was still very foreign to people at this point in time. It became obvious to me that in order to get the word out, I was going to have to join people in the environment where they spend most of their time and teach them how to be creative with resistance in that environment. The goal was to facilitate the improvement of their health while simultaneously allowing them to perform the activity that their occupied space was designed for.
For example, going to a stretching class or private session once or twice a week generates amazing results for a person. But, what happens when they go back to their desk that they sit at for 40+ hours a week? Or, what happens when they stand behind the cash register at the grocery store for an equal amount of time? Well, they can sit at the desk and simply do their work like a robot… or they can sit at the desk and stretch while working, or stretch in between tasks, all by creatively using the objects and people around them for resistance! Now, many times when I go to the grocery store, I teach the person behind the cash register one simple stretch that they can perform at the cash register when the store is slow.
A huge part of why I stretch everywhere is because I am fascinated to see how people connect through RFST. I'm particularly interested in how assisted stretching brings people together, creating a new form of human interaction. It’s as if we can put aside our differences to realize that we all have these bodies, spirits, emotions, and minds that need to be taken care of. Each of us takes on so much stress, and by stretching ourselves and each other, I believe we can all come together as one and set each other free.
I imagine a world where everyone stretches themselves and each other. I imagine a world where it won't be strange to see people in the park or on the street stretching each other. I imagine random people meeting and stretching each other in an effort to come together as one and communicate physically, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. I imagine a world where everyone is equipped with the tools to be able to USE resistance to RELEASE resistance to life and flow freely. I imagine a world where each person acts as a check and balance for each other person and is here to safeguard that person as they maintain their balance in this magnificent universal energy.
I prioritize manifesting this vision. I continually brainstorm on ways to bring it into as many people’s lives as possible. I eagerly await the day when society places more value on UPGRADING and evolving instead of on the mundane issues that currently hoard the focus.
That’s where Everyone Stretch Everywhere comes in. My goal is to get these points across:
You have the right to be flexible in your space.
You have the right to stretch everywhere.
Everyone can stretch.
Everyone can stretch everywhere.
This is not just me, and not just you, but everyone. Thus, I have created everyonestretcheverywhere.com as a starting block to foster a community space for those passionate about RFST. So, check it out if you are ready to stretch everywhere, find a stretching partner, locate a trainer, find classes, and more.
So that’s my story up to this point in time. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of me and what I’m all about. My wish is that you too will find RFST to be beneficial for yourself and others. I will consider it to be quite the treat if we get to meet in person, if we haven’t already.