Voyage LA: Meet Jessica Schatz

Jessica Schatz, Voyage LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Schatz.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jessica. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.

From the earliest age, movement was the most innate part of my being. It was as elemental and intuitive as breathing – as if that’s what made my heart beat. Movement was – and still is – my life force, my medicine, and it’s what most powerfully unites my body, mind, and spirit.

At the age of three, I was in a class at the San Francisco JCC called “Creative Movement,” which basically sealed the deal for me. To be in an environment that encouraged and celebrated expressing yourself through movement was bliss. Later I enjoyed years of ballet classes with the San Francisco Ballet School, even dancing in The Nutcracker at the San Francisco Opera House. I transitioned to Modern and Jazz dance in high school at Marin Academy, and then to Contemporary dance at San Jose State University.

I studied under the tutelage of the most brilliant mentors, who continue to have a profound effect on my life. While I attended college as a dance major focusing on performance, I also immersed myself in the study of anatomy, biology, kinesiology, and all of the sciences behind my artistic pursuit. I wanted to thoroughly understand movement and how the body functioned. It was an intensive dance program, and I felt fortunate to be a part of it.

At this time I was also absorbing the life-changing principles of Pilates and yoga, gaining enormous benefits for my body and mind. It was a natural evolution to performing and touring as a professional dancer with Limon West, Opera San Jose, Tandy Beal and Company (among other repertory and theatre companies) and teaching Pilates and yoga classes.

Throughout my education, training, and professional dancing, my body was put through hours of rigorous rehearsals and performances, and I faced daily struggles to stay healthy and injury-free. At 30, however, a career-ending knee injury changed everything. Being a professional dancer was my identity! I had essentially been living, breathing, and eating dance my entire life. This was an extremely difficult time, as my world had been suddenly shaken to the core. But somehow, I dug deep into myself and found a tiny light that still wanted to shine.

And honestly, it felt like I needed to either find a way to move forward or die. And I did find a way to move forward, to self-examine, reinvent, and to ultimately find my larger life’s purpose, allowing my light to shine even bigger and brighter. In fact, I believe it is these profoundly painful experiences that allow us to redefine ourselves, and our paths by offering us a different door through which to walk – one we may not have seen otherwise.

And if we can find a way to keep going, our light will shine brighter day-by-day, step-by-step. It became my mission to help as many people as I could to live better lives through optimal health and wellness. As someone with a great thirst for knowledge, I studied everything – biomechanics, meditation, nutrition, and Mind-Body medicine, among many other things in order to add to my Pilates and yoga instruction and create an approach that could help anyone.

I then developed an integrative methodology – an approach rooted in Pilates, and drawing upon yoga, biomechanics, meditation, psychotherapy, functional exercise, nutrition, and the mind-body connection. It’s extremely gratifying for me to guide and encourage each individual – whether a professional dancer or athlete, or individuals at all levels of fitness and ability (even some with Parkinson’s and other physical limitations), to gain strength, mobility, flexibility, physical and emotional balance, and overall wellness.

While I continue to instruct professionals (touring company of Hamilton and Wicked, dancers with the Alvin Ailey Company, Indiana Pacers guard Wesley Matthews), I enjoy working with my general clients who range widely in age and fitness level. I also spend considerable time speaking at conferences, conducting workshops, writing articles and blogs, and developing an online subscription series.

My mission in all of these endeavors is to help guide people on their journey towards experiencing the power of true health in body, mind, and spirit. It’s equally important for me to achieve happiness, groundedness, balance, and a genuine connection with people.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Is there such a thing as a smooth road? Life is such a journey. It’s full of bumps, potholes, roadblocks, and often, torrential downpours. It’s also full of swimming holes, mountaintops, flowers in bloom, and interesting people to meet along the way. Adversity offers us an opportunity for growth.

While I’ve had countless rich and rewarding life experiences, I’ve also suffered from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, body-image issues, and plenty of other fears and insecurities – sometimes manageable, other times debilitating. But after falling down, we can get back up. It is through experiencing our deepest sorrows that we are able to appreciate and embrace our greatest joys. All of this informs my work, life, and journey on the road ahead.

Overcoming challenges has offered me the opportunity and resolve to reach out and help others thrive despite their own debilitating obstacles. The road does not have to determine the journey, but rather our intention, our commitment to weather the storm, stay on course, and get to the other side. All the while, staying open to possibilities along the way. The other side may not look like what you thought it would – it might look better!

During times of uncertainty, it helps to stay mindful, remind yourself of your purpose, and rely on the love and support of family, friends, and community through life’s ebbs and flows. When you feel stuck in the mud, there’s no getting over it, there’s only going through it. And as with any journey, the sun comes out, and the road becomes smooth once again.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.

Professionally, I have become known and identified as Jessica Schatz, The Core Expert™. I am a Master Pilates Instructor, Yoga Teacher, Health and Wellness Coach, and Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher. I am also certified as a Personal Trainer and JOGA® Coach (yoga for ‘jocks’).

I frequently contribute to health and fitness publications, and appear at conferences, on radio, and on TV. I coach professional athletes and dancers and non-professionals to get stronger, more flexible, prevent injury, perform better, and strengthen the mind-body connection. The big picture benefit in health and wellness from my methodology is that each individual can feel better, function better, and live better.

My work has been distinguished in the health, wellness, and fitness communities for my integrative methodology, which emphasizes the mind-body connection. After years of intense fitness, exercise, and dance training, I realized there were unique benefits from varied sources. In order to address the whole person – mind, body, spirit, I designed a system that utilizes key principles and techniques from Pilates, yoga, biomechanics, meditation, mindfulness, physiology, kinesiology, strength and conditioning exercises, nutrition, and other modalities.

I am also particularly adept at identifying the needs of each individual, irrespective of their fitness level, age, or physical challenges. My years as a professional dancer made me acutely aware of the need to maintain strength and flexibility and overcome injuries. This background, along with intensive study of physiology, kinesiology, and biomechanics, equips me to be able to quickly identify a person’s needs. I then customize exercises and movement instruction in alignment with the individual’s experience level and unique body type.

As such, I combine scientific knowledge of the physical core with an intuitive sense of the inner core of each person. I take pride in the fact that my integrative methodology creates a collaboration between me as the instructor/practitioner and the client. We engage cooperatively and become a team, working together to achieve optimal results. In this way I help each individual harness the power to shape his or her life from the inside-out, starting at the core, and connecting the mind, body, and spirit.

I am proud that with my diverse clientele I see successful results whether the individual has a limited level of fitness and ability, or the client is a professional athlete, dancer, or celebrity (fashion mogul Ashley Olsen, NBA star Wesley Matthews of the Indiana Pacers, the companies of Hamilton and Wicked, dancers with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater).

It has been particularly rewarding when clients dealing with adversities such as Parkinson’s disease and other physical hardships make improvements in mobility, strength, balance, self-confidence, and an overall sense of wellbeing. I take deep pride in their transformation. I am grateful for the recognition and accolades that I receive for my work, and the opportunity to reach and inspire more people in order to provide the tools for a better life.

What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?

While I am a firm believer that ‘luck’ is when opportunity meets preparation, there are certain things over which I had no control that have proven to be lucky for me. I am extremely blessed and lucky to have been born to smart, creative, physically agile parents. I use the genes passed down to me every day as I build my professional skills and naturally-given talents and utilize them to help others live happier lives.

I am fortunate to have attended schools – public and private – that offered not only strong academic programs but strong artistic programs as well. I took advantage of these as they drew on my innate interest in movement, music, and expression. And, through these programs, I was introduced to and studied under brilliant and inspiring teachers and mentors.

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” This reminds us that we make our own luck. Of course, we don’t have total control over everything that happens to us. In fact, often we have no control at all. But we have considerable control over how we relate to what happens to us.

Each of us must be an active participant in our own life so that the choices we make lead us toward making things happen, not just letting them happen around us. Finally, I am lucky and appreciative that I have this vehicle for sharing my life and my teachings with you.

Follow Jessica on Instagram @jessicaschatz.
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Rick Krusky