WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Yoga isnt just for housewives and hippies anymore. Professional athletes in the New York area such as Alex Rodriguez have worked with Gwen Lawrence, who said she choreographs routines specific to the players position that prevent injuries, extend careers and even improve performance.
Lawrence, a White Plains High School graduate, said she started as a personal trainer and massage therapist in 1991. While training Glenn Close in the 1990s, the actress wanted to incorporate yoga into her training and asked Lawrence to become a certified yoga instructor. Lawrence accepted.
I morphed from training to all yoga. However, it can be argued that my style is a hybrid workout yoga and gets the attention of people that maybe would not necessarily try yoga, said Lawrence, who trained at California Triangle Studios.
Some of those whose attention she has caught with her blend of yoga, which she has turned into a business called Power Yoga for Sports, include Rodriduez and other New York Yankees, and also players for the New York Giants and Knicks, Regis Philbin and David Letterman, according to her website .
I have seen miracle recoveries, extended sports careers and many health problems conquered with yoga, said Lawrence, whose business has been featured on ESPN, The Today Show and Fitness Magazine. It inspires and humbles me daily.
Even as a teenager, Lawrence rubbed elbows with the world of professional sports. Her boyfriend, now husband, was being scouted by Major League Baseball teams while playing at Pace University's Pleasantville campus.
I planted myself next to the scouts and picked their brains about what he needed, lacked and skills to get to the next level, Lawrence said. I am not even sure I fully understood what they were saying, but I think it is so funny that I was 15 and thought it was OK to pick their brains. I now realize this is where my journey began.
A mother of three, Lawrence said she has always been passionate about the body and understanding how it works. She was an art major in college and went on to study massage therapy at the Swedish Institute of Allied Health in Manhattan, during which she ran a private fitness facility. Close became a client, and Lawrence trained her in preparation for her role in Sarah Plain and Tall in 1991. Lawrence said she also trained Close for her role in 102 Dalmatians in 1998, by which time she had been licensed as a yoga instructor.
Soon after, Lawrence said, she became the massage therapist for the New York Giants.
I knew they would need less massage if they did yoga, she said. I would reduce injuries and help them to become proactive, not reactive, and stay healthier longer.
Once the worlds of sports and yoga met, Power Yoga for Sports was born, and Lawrence has been working with celebrities and athletes since.
They are funny, talented, smart and just like high school kids - silly and overgrown boys, she said.
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