Whenever I look back over my career, I always experience this feeling of gratitude for the advice, counsel and guidance of so many wonderful, intelligent and caring mentors of different kinds. Conversations that pointed me down paths I would probably never even have noticed, let alone travelled! At the same time I was also fortunate to work with some great organizations and institutions. For me this was a ‘double whammy’ of a career boost, and one I have always tried to live up to.
My first academic experience was as a teacher, and I really began my ‘grown up’ career in the UK, initially as a teacher of Physical Education and Math. Four years later, however, I transitioned into academic and community wellness as Deputy Director of Recreation at the City of London University. In 1977 I was appointed as the inaugural Physical Education and Program Director at the newly constructed London Central YMCA, one of the largest YMCA in the world. While in that position I was one of a small team of fellow YMCA educators who developed a revolutionary approach to the teaching of exercise. As part of this developmental process, for more than 5 years I travelled all over the UK, teaching the YMCA certification programs. These ultimately became part of the UK National Vocational Training Award Scheme, as well as being taught across Europe and Asia. This is something of which I am very proud. BTW, it was around this time that I started feeling the first little ‘frissons’ of thinking about choices.
Twelve years later I entered Loughbough University and graduated the following year with my MS in Physical Education and Sports Science. This was also my first experience of psychology. I was hooked! Shortly after graduation, with suitcase and American phrase book in hand (!), I left for the US and entered the Exercise and Wellness doctoral program at Arizona State University. It’s been quite a journey since then!
After graduation I obtained a Post-doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University, Center for Research in Disease Prevention. This 4 year interim period, surrounded by world class researchers in behavioral science, prepared me for my first professorial position – which turned out to be back at my alma mater, ASU. I had an amazing 8 years there (being a professor is great for all sorts of reasons!), and then resigned to pursue a consulting career. I had things to say – and I believed I would only be able to say them the way I wanted to say them as an independent professional. In addition I wanted to prove to myself that I could stand on my own expertize.
Since that time I have founded three successful small businesses, all of which focused on active, healthy aging. The most recent of these, ProActivAge, is the ‘mother ship’ of this blog. While my business and research interests are still focussed on the importance of strength in wellness and aging, my academic experience of lifestyle and behavioral science also led me to pursue additional training in coaching and communication. This is a different (though connected) kind of thinking to that which underpinned my academic approaches to lifestyle change.
Over the last 10 years I have worked with 5 powerful change methodologies: I am a Certified Intrinsic Coach, Certified Valuations Specialist, Certified DISC® and Trimetrix™ practitioner and a Certified Facilitator for the Stanford Healthy Lifestyle Program. I have merged the best aspects of these five methodologies with my academic training, to develop a unique approach to lifestyle change. I have successfully coached both individuals and groups using this approach, and will be introducing and explaining how this works in future blog posts. Watch this space!