My Journey to Structural Integration

In my teens and early twenties, I loved to move (and still do). I ran on the beach and dabbled in modern dance classes, Feldenkrais method, African dance, yoga, kenpo karate, tae kwon do, and tai chi.

But my main devotion was to aikido. Part of my attraction to aikido was its self-transformational quality. It helped me feel more at ease in my body as I moved, and it taught me that transformation is an ongoing process.

The common thread of many of these movement disciplines is proper alignment. In the martial arts, balanced alignment cultivates a sense of center, an increased ability to respond (or not respond) to situations, and greater awareness of self. Ida Rolf uses the term “equipoise.”

Somewhere around that time, I was introduced to the Rolf method of Structural Integration. The world view of the Rolf method was also of proper alignment. I learned about the Series and how each session focused on a body area and built upon prior sessions to facilitate improved posture and alignment. Helping people move with greater ease was, and is, part of the mission of Structural Integration. It was perfectly aligned with my study of aikido (pun intended).

The first session of the Series is on the chest. After that session, I vividly remember the well-lubricated and fluid movement I had walking down the street. My arms and neck and torso were moving frictionlessly. My body felt lighter and my movement was smooth and easy.

Fast forward a few years. I was in my late twenties and had spent the last decade doing odd jobs and waiting tables. I started looking for something more serious and solid.

I requested an application from the Rolf Institute because I was fascinated by the results I’d received from Rolfing™. I felt that it was honorable work and could bring positive change into the world. I read the Rolf Institute application. They required a bachelor’s degree and 1,000 hours of bodywork instruction. I did not have either. I decided to go back to school.

I went back to school in earnest. I earned a BS in biology from Portland State University. Bachelor’s degree, check. I went on to earn a second bachelors degree—this time in physical therapy from the University of Washington. 1,000 hours of body work instruction, check.

After graduating from physical therapy school, I had the great fortune of meeting Donna Bajelis, PT, CHP, SMS, and founder of the Institute of Structural Medicine. I began my Structural Integration training with Donna at weekend workshops specially designed for physical therapists. Her teachings infused my budding physical therapy practice.

Several years later, after much convincing from Donna, I started and finished her 2,000-hour Structural Medicine training (the most hours, I later found out, of any Structural Integration school). A couple years later, I passed the exam for certification as a Board Certified Structural Integrator.

My practice is now primarily devoted to the Structural Medicine method. However, I utilize a synergy of my physical therapy training and Structural Integration knowledge during each client session. I invite you to explore the life-changing benefits of Structural Integration with me.

—David Gross, PT, SMS, BCSI