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Why I left a career in STEM for movement coaching

Looking back at where my career started, I was age 13 and learning to identify birds by sight and sound with my dad. I was a keen learner and loved making connections between observations in the natural world. I was good at my hobby, smart and motivated.

Simultaneously I was good at something else which would develop another soft skill entirely. Dance. I was training to become a ballet dancer and by the age of 16 I was a student living in residence at Canada’s National Ballet School; an elite private school in Toronto.

When my dance career didn’t materialize, I fell back on my other love; ecology. I did my undergrad at Simon Fraser University and then went on to do both my MSc and PhD. My Masters focused on parent-offspring conflict and independence decisions in a quirky aquatic songbird. My PhD measured how fear of human-made structures influenced how much of a habitat actually got used by ducks. Both degrees required me to be good at observe and interpreting behaviour.

When it came time to find a good job in biology, I tried for 10 years and eventually realized it wasn’t going to happen. I needed to fall back on something else. What that something else was took about a year of discovering my soft skills, deciding what kind of work life I wanted to have and asking around to find out what I’d be best suited to do.

What my dance background and post-graduate training had in common was being good at watching animals move and interpreting what that means. I had the opportunity to unravel some of the issues in my own body by using a method called Anatomy in Motion. A fellow dancer in Toronto had a program that I followed when I was injured and she helped me get my body back to a level I hadn’t had even before my injury. When I went to see her she used Anatomy in Motion on me and I had some outstanding results from those sessions.

Anatomy in Motion felt right for me. Not only is the model it’s based on a logical progression from anatomy to resulting movement (I love logical progressions!), it views the body as one big machine with interconnecting parts (much like ecology). The challenge for me was to learn the anatomy terms and memorize the model. After that I could apply my soft skills; intuitive skills around seeing and assessing moving parts, a big-picture way of thinking about systems, and a love of troubleshooting and puzzles.

Working with Anatomy in Motion every day has finally provided me with the ideal career path, in my 40s. I get to mess about in the model every day, learn from troubleshooting with my clients, develop my skills and keep mobile all day long.