I have had the great fortune to know Gwen Lawrence for many years. She has changed the air in the world of professional sports after developing her Power Yoga for Sports Program, called the “Best Innovation in Sports Medicine” by ESPN Magazine, more than a decade ago. Gwen has worked with the New York Giants for more than 18 years, as well as with many members of the New York Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Knicks and Red Bulls. She has appeared on the “Today” show, “Good Day New York,” and TV news and national radio shows. Gwen also co-hosted the nationally syndicated show, “The Better Man Show” and has written several books that include “Body Sculpting With Yoga & Tactical Mobility” and “Teaching Power Yoga For Sports”:
Tell us your story. How did you get here?
I started dating my husband when I was 15 and he was being scouted by Major League Baseball as a catcher. I watched each weekend and really learned the game. I sat next to the MLB Scouts in a folding chair with my own stop watching timing my husband’s throws and comparing the results with them and picking their brains. Long story short, he was drafted, injured, surgery, rehab, injured, rehab and I was there for the whole journey. I myself was a dancer and artist and had an insatiable thirst for anatomy and the workings of the body. Together my husband and I developed into trainers, where I continued to grow and learn.
“I graduated from college with a degree in art and dance and then went on to go to a two-year program to become a therapeutic massage therapist. My first day of massage school, the teacher went around the room to ask why people were here. The answers were noble, for example, to work with cancer patients, to help rehab patients, etc. I said, ‘I want to work with professional athletes.’ The whole room laughed at me and I guess I felt a spark. I then became certified three times over as a yoga teacher and built my own yoga school. As a massage therapist, I started working with very high profile actors and traveled on location to train and massage them. I also started with the New York Giants and, after a few years, I finally convinced them to start doing yoga and the rest is history. Now I have a training program and train people in 12 countries and 28 states and I love it.”
Tell us about power yoga. How is it different from other types of yoga?
“Power Yoga for Sports was developed because of the special needs that athletes have. They would benefit from any yoga training. However, their lives are jam packed with a tight training schedule. In addition, the sense was that yoga teachers were trying to make athletes into yogis and that is the furthest thing they need to do. With this, Power Yoga For Sports was born, with my certification programs and certified yoga school.
“I developed my program to design specific yoga programs — per sport, per position, preseason needs, postseason needs, pregame needs, postgame needs and the results are astounding in lowering injury levels, stress levels and much more.
“These yoga teachers learn the games/sports, as I make sure the yoga teacher steps into the athlete’s worlds. Using my techniques, we create programs specific to the needs of specific players per sport and per position, since they all have drastically different body types, shapes and duties on the field.”
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your experiences working in a male driven field?
“Listen. Hear what they are saying. Stick to your intuition when working, and tough love always works.”
What piece of advice do you have for young girls aspiring to succeed in this field?
“If this is your dream, take action every day on that dream. Write goals. Follow through. Email people, and email them again. Do your research. Follow your heart and intuition always.”
What is the main philosophy of your work?
“The philosophy of my company is Strength + Flexibility = Power, and it happens to translate across life. I learned that in the past three months after being shockingly diagnosed with breast cancer. It certainly tests a person’s strength of character and flexibility of personal beliefs. I never thought I would be a person who would have to surrender to radiation and endless doctors, decisions and seeming powerless(ness). But what I really learned is to take my strength and flexibility and enhance my power to make decisions for myself and research my own decisions for my treatment and never surrender to circumstance. I am powerful.”
For more, visit gwenlawrence.com.
Reach Giovanni on Twitter @GiovanniRoselli and at his website, GiovanniRoselli.com.