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Dear @Jim Pickles: indeed.

@Jak

On 7/27/2020 at 11:55 PM, Jak said:

...so simple structure does it for me (that  is my current belief).

So—how useful has this belief been, so far?

One comment and one request: if you do decide to start ABSS some time in the future, start with program 1, not 2, or 3—starting at the beginning is always the best way. My request is that you please report back in a couple of weeks and let us know if the Gravity Yoga claim of "doubling your flexibility in four weeks" is accurate. 

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Kit/Olivia

Hope all is well. I did say I would get back to you.  I know its much longer than i said.  In the end i made a commitment to do yoga mobility/Flexibility flows at least 3 times a week for 15-35 mins per session.  I used an app called skill yoga which i carefully selected.  I started at around your last message above 2020 and still using now.  That is 15 months now. 

Its a mixed bag, I am content that I have managed to do it for so long.  There are minor improvements on some basic movements like forward bends and say lizard lunge poses and spinal twists lying down and possible very slight overhead shoulder mobility.  Although I have enjoyed it it has also been very frustrating and as things like the butterfly pose (soles of feet together sitting down and 'folding' waist and leaning forward) and others have been zero improvement.  I then added props such as a light dumbbell to help me get a better lean or resistance band trying to increase end range.  The squat itself i feel loser but ultimately am using something to put my heels on (ie a folded yoga matt) just for the extra lift and to make in manageable.

I did email their experts too when I could not understand why despite many hours of practising that certain positions were still unattainable. Why are my knees still high in butterfly pose while also doing additional mobility to help with these challenges etc.  They responded saying skeletal structure can differ and deep socket joints could be a potential reason while it has its benefits for 'preventing injuries but things like deep squat and butterfly pose are going to be extra challenging.  They then recommended working with a private yoga teacher to help identify where exactly I need to improve etc.  She then stated as she is a seasoned yoga teacher with years of experience, she still has very limited hip external rotation and limits her butterfly pose and said he goal is now not to bring her knees to the ground, but instead just to feel a deep stretch in the groin, piriformis etc.  The reason she does this is because she believes her skeletal structure will never allow her to bring her knees down in certain poses like butterfly. 

It could be the same for me but I simply do not know.  Have you heard the above before?

I genuinely thought doing mobility and flexibility holds would have a more significant effect after 15 months of determination and consistent effort.  I am slightly disappointed, but am ok with the fact I am still here consistent and trying and as stated some minor improvements visually and how I feel.  I feel looser in certain positions but still need alot of work

I did promise I would get back to you so here it is above.  How are things with yourselves?

Jak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jak said:

The reason she does this is because she believes her skeletal structure will never allow her to bring her knees down in certain poses like butterfly. 

@Jak: if that's what she believes, then that's what the outcome will be—much like your belief in the need for structure, IMHO. In the ~30,000 students we have worked with over the years, I have never seen one who has not made dramatic improvement in the butterfly (tailor pose; baddhakonasana, Sk.). Unless you have been diagnosed with Femoral Acetabular Impingement Syndrome (and where there is real evidence to support it), "deep socket joints" sounds like a reason not to stretch.

Head on over to my YT channel and search on Tailor pose; the two major necessary contractions will be explained in that pose. Do it once a week (x three repetitions each session), and (while starting gently) use all your strength in the contractions, and report back in a month. As well, learn how to relax, deeply (head over to our site, and use the top menu dropdown, and click on Relaxation Wiki, and at least read the featured article, and scroll down to "setup instructions"; listen to these, then pick one of the recordings, download onto your phone, and use every day for the same month.

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And can I assume that Gravity Yoga did not work for you either? That was the one you were talking about in your earlier posts.

The basic problem with using the Skill Yoga approach is that is teaches poses. The key difference with our approach is that we use a great variety of partial poses, so that you can easily identify where your own personal joint and muscle restrictions are, and we use three hugely effective neuromuscular techniques to change the ROMs of those partial poses you find difficult. This was what was behind me suggesting to you that you do a number of the exercises from MTS at one session, then the next group, and that way work your way through them all. It does not matter if this takes a week or two. And you make notes about the feeling of each one you do. At the end of this first run through, you will have your own curated list of the (say) six partial poses (some are full poses) that are most likely to be useful to you. There is a precise method in our system that is missing from most others. It is a system of self-diagnosis for one's own limitations, and as I said before,  no one can do this for you.

And I would say that this advice is even more pertinent to you than before—just because you have not made the progress you want in 15 month's of practise. Something else you should know: it took me five years of constant, but ultimately useless, practise of baddhakonasana before I discovered how to use the two contractions and my strength to show the mind how to let go of a pattern that I thought was permanent in me. Most students now take less than 12 months to get the legs flat on the floor.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Kit

Thanks for the response and advice regarding heading over to YT etc

Yes I know what you are saying about my belief in having structure. I feel lost without some kind of structure. So if i feel lost and overwhelmed without it, this is why i reacted like i did because i felt massively uncomfortable and frustrated. I am simply telling you how i think and feel, that is why i was so reluctant, because of those overwhelmed feelings and thoughts at that time.  I am now fully aware that no one can do this but me.  

Just trying to understand why holding a pose is not good enough to make improvements then?  Just say butterfly pose, why alone is not simply holding the pose and leaning over with a light dumbbell good enough to improve if you repeat this over and over?  If i feel the stretch where i am supposed to, why exactly aren't i not improving?  

Or even let's say just a basic forward fold standing, if we practice this i'm still lacking the understanding of why there is no improvement going lower.  If i can truly feel a stretch at the back of my legs, and hold it, and repeat, surely i should see something improve?  I am aware you talk about restrictions, but  I am missing the bigger picture here, i am not quite getting it.   Genuinely want to understand it but am failing here because I know the amount of work I have put into the last 15 months.

Right moving forward then, surely the above happened to you at some point in your extensive training, when was the point you changed?  Did you seek further education and eventually found what works for you?  Did you go to a personal mentor who helped you? 

It is the below that I need to work towards:

but ultimately useless, practise of baddhakonasana before I discovered how to use the two contractions and my strength to show the mind how to let go of a pattern that I thought was permanent in me

Sorry for all the questions, so when you say letting go of the pattern you thought was permanent in you, are you ok to elaborate?  I feel I have some kind of link to this, limiting beliefs I really struggle with multiple areas of life.

Lastly so when you say the three techniques to change ROM, what are they?  One is contract and relax i think?

Thanks 

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Some reading material while you wait for Kit's response:

9 hours ago, Jak said:

Lastly so when you say the three techniques to change ROM, what are they?

You will find the techniques here: Techniques in Stretch Therapy

And more generally regarding stretching: The Secrets of Stretching

9 hours ago, Jak said:

Just to make sure, this is the video right fir Tailor pose?

Yes, that video shows the two contractions Kit mentioned.

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On 1/30/2022 at 6:10 AM, Jak said:

when you say letting go of the pattern you thought was permanent in you, are you ok to elaborate?

Of course. Every belief that you have about yourself (as you have detailed in many posts here) limits what can happen. And, worse, you believe your reactions (to people suggesting that you try this, or that; in fact all the suggestions made above about how to change these things you identified as problems) as real, when they are not. They are simple thoughts, and reactions to thoughts. In my case, talking about your perception of the necessity of structure; your observations about no improvement in your forward bend, despite holding them for time, the recommendation of the system you were using at the time—all  these are ideas. In your case, these are what's limiting you.

In my personal experience with baddhakonasana, nothing much happened over the four years I used the 'lift the knees away from the floor into the hands' cue for the contraction. When I was noodling around one day with the same pose, the idea of pressing the soles of the feet together (in the plane of the floor) came to me. Instantly, my knees went inches lower, with the one repetition. Lesson? I had been using the contraction that worked for most people, but had not worked for me. IOW, we need to find our own way, ourselves. I will say here, though, that I did not have any beliefs or expectations about what I could, or couldn't do. I was open to what might happen, in other words.

All the 'secrets' I have discovered I discovered by myself, by playing around with things. This is the key point: only you can find our your restrictions and how to change them, by doing what I have suggested above. I see here I am repeating many of my posts, so I will stop here. Please read the excellent posts recommended to you by Nathan, and get to work; no more talk.

The last point, and the most important one by far, is that your body will tell you what it needs, providing you expose it to a sufficient variety of challenges, and you put all your attention in trying to work out what this or that feels like. Literally no one else can do this for you – and that is why the other methods that you have put so much time and energy into have not worked for you—you have been following their recipes. Their recipes are external; our approach shows you how to go 'internal'. It's all there, waiting to be uncovered. As well, you need the relaxation practice more than most people, I suspect. There are many of them on our site, and all are free. Go here: https://stretchtherapy.net/relaxation-wiki/

Edited by Kit_L
typos, amplifications
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Kit has already given a definitive reply, but there were a couple of things that Jak said that got me thinking…

“why alone is not simply holding the pose and leaning over with a light dumbbell good enough to improve if you repeat this over and over? “

Well, the body is always under stress, so if force alone was enough to stretch you, we would stretch and stretch and then eventually fall apart. Its obviously not so simple – there is a continual interplay between stretching and tightening processes in our body, and we have to find something that works for us to tip the balance in the direction we want. On its own, connective tissue tends to tighten over time, so we need to stretch it to stop that happening. And its best if some connective tissue does not stretch at all – the ligaments that hold the bones of the pelvis together are one example. The are under continual force, and if they DO stretch, the bones of the pelvis move around, and results are very uncomfortable. The other big factor is of course muscle tension, which counters unwanted stretch.

But how does this help Jak?

I was also struck by “Or even let's say just a basic forward fold standing, if we practice this I'm still lacking the understanding of why there is no improvement going lower. If i can truly feel a stretch at the back of my legs, and hold it, and repeat, surely i should see something improve?”

That’s what I did for years, with the only result that I strengthened my hamstrings at their old (short) length. A forward fold is I think a BAD stretch for the hamstrings, unless you are already flexible and a practiced stretcher.

Why?

Because in a forward fold the hamstrings are having to hold up the weight of the torso. So they are under force. It is quite likely that some parts of the hamstrings are tighter than the other parts, so will take a lot of the force, and this will be painful. So your muscles will contract to protect themselves. The result: what I got for years, not stretching, but strengthening the hamstrings at their old short length.

Here is the benefit of the ST system: partial poses. A modified stretch that leads into the stretch you want, but in a supported, non-threatening way, that allows you to learn to let the muscles relax while under tension. Then you will find them stretching, and one day you will be able to go into the full position and get benefit from it.

I found for a forward fold, the “partial pose” of a Downward Dog was very valuable (and you can do it with arms supported on a chair if you want). It allows all the back of the body to stretch in a supported way. And, surprisingly, trying to get my heels lower to the floor improved my hamstring flexibility! Why? After all, there are no muscles that go from the hips right to the Achilles tendon. The reason is that you are also stretching the big band of connective tissue (fascia) that runs all down the back of the body, starting at the front of the head and running over the head, and down the back to the soles of the feet. In fact, I think a lot of what looks like hamstring tightness is in fact tightness in this band, and I encourage my students to do the downward dog and to try to get the heels to (or towards) the floor, because in many people it leads to rapid improvements in hamstring flexibility.

This also raises another question: why is a forward fold seen as a “go to” hamstring stretch if it of such limited usefulness for beginners? Here we come to another advantage of the ST system. Obviously, people like teaching what they are good at. If you were lousy at maths, I doubt that you’d want to become a maths teacher. So commonly the people that teach flexibility are already very flexible, often because they have good natural flexibility. So stretching for them is just going into a position and holding it (like in yoga). This is no help if you cant begin to get into the position. If you want an illustration of this, go onto Youtube and look at “how to do the splits”. There are endless ones of young teenage girls saying “do this, do this, and you will be down in no time!” Well, maybe for them, but not for the rest of us. Its useless advice. The advantage of the ST system is that many in the community started out with poor flexibility, and came to ST to find out how to improve. So they know the techniques that work with inflexible people.

Another thing that worked well for me and not mentioned much in the ST community is to get the muscles VERY TIRED before stretching them – not just warmed up, but absolutely exhausted. Then they wont be able to pull back, and you will stretch more easily. And you will get some good conditioning in at the same time.

OK that’s enough! Some entertainment in lockdown.

And happy (partial pose) stretching!

Jim.

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Thanks Jim; excellent additional thoughts and experiences.

7 hours ago, Jim Pickles said:

This also raises another question: why is a forward fold seen as a “go to” hamstring stretch if it of such limited usefulness for beginners?

So true. The lunge hamstring stretch which goes from bent to straight leg via straightening the knee is superior in every way. In it, gravity is your friend; the end position can be held without effort; the hamstring muscles are strengthened, and lengthened via the three neural reflexes that are the backbone of the ST system (and one of these is not used in any other system).

@Jak: the key hamstring and hip flexor exercises are explored in some depth in this free beginner's class I recorded the day before yesterday. Try it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNX7jc7S1_g

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/30/2022 at 4:49 AM, Nathan said:

Some reading material while you wait for Kit's response:

You will find the techniques here: Techniques in Stretch Therapy

And more generally regarding stretching: The Secrets of Stretching

Yes, that video shows the two contractions Kit mentioned

Thanks for all responses. Much appreciated. I did read a while back.

Ive been doing MTS stretches for over a month now. Still finding it hard to find my feet as I'm just grouping them together then doing the next group etc. Repeat.  I truly hope it see changes as this system promises.  So far I don't really have any strong positive things to mention yet with regards to the system. All I'm doing is holding these partial poses for a few seconds. 

 

Kit I've taken action so I will not hesitate to give you feedback weather positive or negative. You talked extensively how the structure part was all nonsense so let's truly see if you are right. Like I said I hold for a few seconds because I'm not even going to attempt to figure out how long I should be holding these partial pose  selections for. 

Thanks

 

 

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Hi Jak,

If you are simply holding partial poses for several seconds, then you are not using the ST system. If you read those links, then you know that there are other key techniques that such an approach would be completely ignoring. Hopefully you are learning a bit more about your body by working through the MTS stretches, but at some point you will need to begin using the many available tools in the ST toolbox if you're looking to incite change. All of the videos in all of the courses demonstrate contractions, followed by further relaxation. As a minimum, you can begin by implementing these contract-relax cycles.

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Hi Nathan

Thanks kindly for the response.  Without going round in circles it goes back to my point about structure (lack of). All these techniques, do I do them for every stretch? How often do I change it up? How long do I hold an end range for after the C-R? When do I apply the next technique in the tool box? Do I apply for all the exercises? When do I start the pulsing technique?  The answer I seem to get which is a get out of jail card is 'only you will know this' Well I don't I'm afraid. I don't see the guidance I'm after and spotted this very early on when I first engaged in this conversation after purchasing.

My very first set of questions were always around these type of concern's. It's just one big guessing game still and I'm fed up with trying to explain this to the owners of this system as they call it. There is no point. We were wasting each others time.

However, Im giving this 'system' a chance and I will not hesitate to share my feedback if the powers of be let me. At the moment the best I can do I just hold these position and see how I feel as advised by the owners very early on in this conversation when I never gave their system a chance. 

Im taking action so I expect something from this (despite the article mentioning don't be outcome focused which he calls a disease... just his unproven/un- tested opinion) I've re read everything that has been advised to me and I cannot make a logical explanation/plan from it apart of what I written above. Kit talks about why other teachings/programs fail alot on this conversation so let's see if his system actually makes any difference. He advised I actually get on the mat and DO. Which I finally am.

We have to be honest and that's all I am doing here. The difference is I'm trying now and taking action. 

 

 

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Hi Jak,

In the thread you linked in your first message, all of the questions you just mentioned are answered to the extent necessary for you to get started and well along your way. For any techniques not mentioned in that thread, feel free to put them aside until you have made significant progress and feel you're ready to experiment with new elements.

If you still feel overwhelmed after having read (and perhaps re-read) that linked thread, then consider finding a coach to do your programming for you. If you need or prefer more guidance than the Master courses offer, then the ABSS course might be a better fit.

8 hours ago, Jak said:

At the moment the best I can do I just hold these position and see how I feel

If that's the best you can do for now, then no problem. This can help you learn about your body and its needs, but you need to do it with full awareness in the body. Pay careful attention, and use the feedback (sensations) to inform your practice. In time, you might notice that certain positions feel more beneficial. Begin doing those more often, and start adding in contract-relax cycles, as described in that thread you linked.

Do consider adding the lying relaxation to your practice, as Kit recommended previously. Learning to relax deeply will help not only our stretching practice, but all aspects of our lives.

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@Jak: the daily relaxation practises are a fundamental, and necessary, part of the system that, in time, with vastly enhance your capacity to feel your own body, something that seems to be missing presently. 

On 4/10/2022 at 1:17 AM, Jak said:

All I'm doing is holding these partial poses for a few seconds. 

You  need to hold these positions longer than a few seconds, as the articles you have been pointed to have noted. Why do you bail out after a few seconds? It's precisely at the point you feel like getting out of the pose that the relaxation capacity must be actively drawn on: you hold the position with effort only in your hands, and you will yourself to let go. The relaxation practises will help you feel how to do this, in time.

12 hours ago, Jak said:

despite the article mentioning don't be outcome focused which he calls a disease... just his unproven/un- tested opinion

I have said that wanting a particular outcome, and focussing on that will block your progress, because the focus needs to be on the instant-to-instant flow of experience of the feelings. Of course, this is a paradox, because you have to have a motive behind you choosing to do stretching rather than, say, playing a video game. Here's the full quote:

You need to do the specific exercises and the mobility work without regards to the outcome. Instead of being outcome oriented (one of the diseases of western civilisation), practise feeling your body as it’s stretching or limbering. Ask yourself, ‘how does that feel?’ ‘What change of angle can I make to strengthen (or reduce) the sensation?’ ‘Can I relax more?’ ‘Do I add movement here, or is being still required?’ If you ask, an answer will come.

I stand by this.

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On 4/11/2022 at 2:50 AM, Nathan said:

Hi Jak,

In the thread you linked in your first message, all of the questions you just mentioned are answered to the extent necessary for you to get started and well along your way. For any techniques not mentioned in that thread, feel free to put them aside until you have made significant progress and feel you're ready to experiment with new elements.

If you still feel overwhelmed after having read (and perhaps re-read) that linked thread, then consider finding a coach to do your programming for you. If you need or prefer more guidance than the Master courses offer, then the ABSS course might be a better fit.

If that's the best you can do for now, then no problem. This can help you learn about your body and its needs, but you need to do it with full awareness in the body. Pay careful attention, and use the feedback (sensations) to inform your practice. In time, you might notice that certain positions feel more beneficial. Begin doing those more often, and start adding in contract-relax cycles, as described in that thread you linked.

Do consider adding the lying relaxation to your practice, as Kit recommended previously. Learning to relax deeply will help not only our stretching practice, but all aspects of our lives.

Thanks for the advice Nathan

I think you maybe onto something regarding your suggestion about finding a coach personally. It is something I can maybe do soon if such coaches exist. 

I've been buying 'increase flexibility/mobility' online courses now for quite some time including the ones I mentioned and trying stretches on YouTube and others that I have not mentioned. All a complete waste of time each claiming their way works. I say this with respect, but this current 'system' is no different to them 'gurus' claiming the same things. I've realised the internet is full of this kind of stuff designed to entice a user and make money where no real value has been achieved for the buyer.

The reason I first purchased this was after emailing Kit thinking at the time this is something different, the reality is I'm still holding stretches at end range for periods of time. That's it. I've held stretches for longer times for the past 15 plus months and nothing ever improved. It led to sheer frustration. This 'system' isn't really any different apart from the C-R cycles and attempting to relax deeply which I do try hard on concentrating on the breath. Ive always tried. 

GST does intense deep long holds once a week and I did this for so long as mentioned. I've realised this is no different so why would I expect different results? The same principles apply as Kit has said below we need to hold these for longer and perhaps the partial pose aspect could help. But other than that there isn't much difference. 

 Having said that Kit mentioned earlier we need a bit of faith in this 'system'. I will start adding some C-R relax cycles and see how it feels. I will yet again just 'guess' what stretches to use these on.

Thank you Nathan for the suggestions. Overthinking is natural for me I'm afraid but I still believe my reasons and concerns with this 'system' are completey valid. I will report back soon but do not hold your breath for any improvements (as much as I would like to see improvements I'm incredibly skeptical of programs now)

Thanks again

 

 

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Hi Jak,

5 hours ago, Jak said:

I think you maybe onto something regarding your suggestion about finding a coach personally. It is something I can maybe do soon if such coaches exist.

Some of us like to try to build our own kitchen cabinets. Others will hire a carpenter to build custom cabinets. And some will just pay the hardware store to install pre-built cabinets. Nothing wrong with any of these approaches, but they will produce different results and certain approaches will be better suited to certain personality types, skill sets, etc. Considering your journey thus far, a coach sounds like a good option, as long as you can trust the coach and stick to the program. You can find a list of ST teachers here. Someone in your region that you could meet up with might be best, but that's probably difficult in our current world. A few ST teachers are doing online classes, as well. You can find info about regular online classes from Justin Chien/Stretch Therapy Boston here.

I will not address your comments about this system and other systems, except to suggest that it may be wise to avoid making claims about systems and their effectiveness without having explored them deeply. There are certainly charlatans out there, promoting largely unoriginal cookie-cutter programs, but there are also a number of very effective systems available. They will all offer relatively similar tools, because there are only so many ways to approach flexibility training effectively. However, in the end, it always comes down to how well someone can implement those tools. But again, this goes back to what I mentioned above: learning from a book or an online program, etc. is not going to be the best choice for everyone.

5 hours ago, Jak said:

I will start adding some C-R relax cycles and see how it feels. I will yet again just 'guess' what stretches to use these on.

Guessing is fine. Go with your gut. After all, you're just trying to see how it feels. Choose a few, and stick with your choices for several weeks or months, just to see what happens. This is a different way to approach stretching. See where it takes you.

5 hours ago, Jak said:

Overthinking is natural for me

It's a habit. And many of us in the modern world share it. No problem. Habits change. Again, consider doing the relaxation exercises, as this is where some of our deeper habits can begin to lose their momentum.

Best of luck!

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Nathan 

Thanks for your message. I did read it when you send it but didn't feel the need to reply, was taking in what you said which I fully appreciate

Ive stopped now with this 'system' unfortunately after 8 weeks of trying the guessing game hasn't improved anything. I said I will report back and just isn't for me. If I have had known from the very start that this isn't actually a 'system' at all then I wouldn't have purchased this. 

My doubts about this 'system' were correct because there is no system. Get in a stretch and see how you feel. That's what I have gained from all this time which is very apparent in all the conversations I've had with the creators of this 'system' hoping it will improve my range of motion. Sometimes i would hold for a short time and many for much longer periods just to see how it feels. After doing this for several weeks it's hasn't helped.

I stick to my comments earlier that's it's no different to the other stuff I've tried hard on. It's just holding poses for guessed timings and applying C and R. The creators have commented on why the other things I've tried hasn't worked (GST and skill yoga for example), yet this is no different with regards to results and the application. I thought I would pick different stretches from master the squat as well. I don't know but I couldn't still come up with a plan. 

All the best Nathan. I'm glad you have found your way with this. I will find a way to get there and have to avoid cookie cutter programs. Perhaps I am doing something wrong I genuinely don't know. 

I think we will just go round in circles here. The coach searching is now the next task for me. Hopefully I can find someone local. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Jak,

No worries. It sounds like you've discovered that self-guided systems are not what you need right now. That's a victory, IMO.

8 hours ago, Jak said:

The coach searching is now the next task for me. Hopefully I can find someone local. 

You also know your next step. That's great - more than many people can say. I wish you the best of luck finding a local coach. Please let us know how your journey unfolds!

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