Interview by Visual Collaborative
July 2019 10 min read
Deanna Companion is a personal trainer, pilates trainer, Redcord Active Specialist, and Thai Yoga Massage Practitioner. She works with many people towards a better health and overall wellness. Based in Atlanta Georgia, she is the main practitioner of Companion Wellness. As a feature in our Visual Collaborative Vivencias interview series, she discusses her work in Pilates and the incorporation of other wellness practices.
(VC) Are you more of a Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic practitioner?
(Deanna) I mostly am an Auditory Pilates and Visual Practitioner. I need to watch how each of my clients move within each exercise or pose. I need to ensure that their body is aligned, and that they can execute the movement safely. So I have to be very clear in my explanation and cueing, so they can follow me clearly. I have found, though, that many people learn visually. I can be very clear on how they should move and their mind understands, but there is a disconnect with their body. It’s like following a dance move, most people will learn by visually seeing a dance move and then their body will remember by doing it.
(VC) When people come to you for wellness therapy, do you find that it is the mind that needs healing more than the body or it is the other way around?
(Deanna) I love this question! Initially, people usually come to me to heal their bodies. But the body and mind are intertwined. What I find time after time, as I peel away the layers, people start opening up to me. There is usually something going on in their mind, whether it be stress, fatigue, anger, sadness, loss, fear, which can show up in one or more areas of the body as pain and tightness. Sometimes the person has injured themselves at some point, or had an illness such as cancer and it has affected them emotionally. They will go to doctors, physical therapists, etc. to heal their body but in reality they have done nothing to heal their mind and soul. For example, I have a client who had breast cancer. She had to have a mastectomy. This was 30 years ago and she never healed from the trauma of that. She walked around in life hunching her shoulders forward, hiding. She had a lot of pain in her left shoulder, same side she had the mastectomy. Because of this, she lost a lot of mobility in her shoulder and thoracic spine. As I started to get to know her, she confided in me and started to cry. She had never worked through the trauma. This was 2 years ago and I am happy to say she has almost full mobility now in the shoulder and she is standing tall, proud, and confident again. Both the body and mind need to be healthy and connected in order for us to be completely whole.
Most hypochondriacs have had some sort of real injury in the past and have since then developed a fear of that injury reoccurring, or a completely different injury surfacing.
(VC) Some of the most motivated people in commerce, businessmen and women who come in all shapes and sizes are hypochondriacs. As a seasoned Pilates practitioner what do tell them or the kind of session you recommend?
(Deanna) Trust is essential in working with any person, especially someone who is a hypochondriac. My first session with a client is about listening to their needs, their wants, and their fears. It is also about feeling out their personality. I have great intuition about people, and this has served me well in life and the past 10 years of my career. Most hypochondriacs have had some sort of real injury in the past and have since then developed a fear of that injury reoccurring, or a completely different injury surfacing. There is also a mistrust of doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and other such healthcare providers. In this present day, with drugs used as bandaids and to mask the pain (the pain is there for a reason to tell you something is wrong) with insurance business controlling the medical institutions, with the feeling you are just a number and not cared about, people are mistrustful and can become hypochondriacs. So I take my time with clients, I construct my sessions thoughtfully and come up with a program together with them, so that each person feels comfortable and listened too. I tell them we don’t have to do anything that they are uncomfortable with. As they start to trust me and their own bodies, then I will add little by little more challenging exercises, and add more modalities to their work out. Inevitably, each person I work with will push past their fears and limitations and discover that their bodies are capable of so much more!
Photo courtesy of Companion Wellness
(VC) Observing the rising despondency of political movements in different parts of the United States, as a women are you more critical about the state of America or more optimistic with what you have been exposed to in Yoga and eastern therapeutic arts?
(Deanna) I like to think of myself as a very positive, optimistic woman. The glass is always half full [Deanna smiles]. I believe in the overall goodness of people. And even though there seems to a be a growing sense of hopelessness, anger, separation, complacency, and worse of all numbness to all that we see and hear happening in the United States, I believe, because I work with different people from all backgrounds, young and old, that there is enough good, love, compassion, and fight in people, that we will push through. Because the people I work with are themselves working on self improvement, I see them want and need to have improvement in the world around them.
(VC) You worked as a traveling trainer for Cirque du Soleil, what was your most fun city and generally the overall experience?
(Deanna) I actually only worked with Cirque du Soleil on the Kurios show in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a very educational, amazing experience. It was interesting working with such unique gymnasts and performers that have come from different parts of the world, speaking different languages. But they work together to create a show communicating sometimes only through their bodies. Teaching them and communicating what I wanted them to do was done with a lot of tactile cueing and body language. So that reinforced my belief that you can communicate with anyone through movement and touch. I do feel though that I have been a traveling trainer, since I have worked at studios all over New York City, in Florida, and now in Atlanta, Georgia. I also have lived in Seattle and Colorado. I like to move around a lot and experience different parts of the country and world.
(VC) In your quiet or noisy moments how does Deanna get inspired to inspire others. What ultimately motivates you to create work you do. Are you spiritual or physiological like many in your field.
(Deanna) Most of the time I get inspired in the quiet moments of the morning. I wake up at least 2 hours before I need to leave for the day so that I can take time to meditate and think on what goals I want to fulfill for myself and what I want to inspire in my clients. My clients are what motivate me to do what I do. I get just as excited and happy for them when they achieve a goal, whether it be just to simply be out of pain, to be able to be strong enough to pick up their grandchild, to run a 10k, or even smaller goals, but still so satisfying and thrilling when it happens, like to do a roll up (Pilates exercise). I have always had a strong following and have had clients work with me year after year, 2 or 3 times a week, so I get to know them very well. I know about their families, there hopes, fears, big and small events in their lives. I watch them get stronger physically and mentally through my help and their drive, determination and hard work! I am so blessed to be able to have a job that I love and I can help people and who in turn inspire me everyday. [Deanna Smiles]
We definitely don’t live in a perfect society where we are all treated equal, but we have come a long way. What I would love is if everyone could time warp back to when there was no cell phone, no computers, no social media for a month.
(VC) There is no time like the present, yet some mention the renaissance period as a period they admire. If you can time-warp back to any era, what time would it be and why?
(Deanna) Definitely the Renaissance would have been wonderful to experience all the art that was being created. I also would have to say the “Roaring 20’s” post World War 1 and you just celebrated being alive! People celebrated each other, enjoyed each other’s company and danced, sang, and partied the night away. I honestly would not want to live in any other era, though, except the present only because of the opportunities that Women and African Americans have now. We definitely don’t live in a perfect society where we are all treated equal, but we have come a long way. What I would love is if everyone could time warp back to when there was no cell phone, no computers, no social media for a month. Even though this technology has helped us to have information at our fingertips and to be able to communicate with people around the world instantly. We have lost the ability to communicate face to face. Maybe a month of a “social media detox” [Deanna Smirks] would remind people how to be present with one another. That is another reason I feel so blessed and love what I do, because everyday I experience people raw working on self improvement in their bodies and mind.
(VC) At this stage of your professional career and accomplishments, If you could work alongside any creative, public figure or company, who would it be and why?
(Deanna) I would love to meet and work along side Oprah. She is very inspirational to me. She came from nothing and pushed through abuse and adversity to become one of the most influential women in this world. She has always had a vision for self improvement and has inspired and helped many people to become the best of themselves. To me, she encompasses what a person can achieve if they are constantly growing, pushing past fears and limitations and reinventing themselves.
(VC) Communities today need seasoned practitioners like yourself, especially with the barrage of social media What can the world expect from Deanna Companion and her practice within the next few years?
(Deanna) I am going to continue to grow in my practice and be present and open to what is to come next. I believe if you listen to your heart and the signs that happen all the time showing you the way, you can never go wrong. You mentioned social media, which I confess is not one of my strong points, and yet it can be a way to reach people beyond what is right in front of you. But I believe I am best, when I am standing right in front of you and inspiring you with my instruction, my open heart, being present and listening, and feeding off of your energy and your needs. That being said, though, I wish to push past my wall of social media and work on presenting myself within social media to reach a broader base of people and find balance at the same time.