Gerry Andrews, an Advanced Massage Therapist, Body-Mind Coach, and Reiki practitioner, specializes in chronic pain conditions, sports injury treatment and Body-Mind coaching in Leeds, UK. Gerry helps people to gain a holistic understanding of themselves – physical, psychological and spiritual. By creating an offering and a space where people can feel safe, heard and understood, Gerry not only helps treat the pain in people’s bodies, but he also empowers individuals to take control of their lives by releasing tension, restoring balance, and shifting outdated patterns through his unique combination of massage therapy, Body-Mind coaching and Reiki. MysticMag has the pleasure of chatting with Gerry.
What inspired you to bridge your family tradition of holistic massage with your diverse career experiences in town planning, community development, and coaching?
I guess a lot of it started when I was young. My dad always used to massage us when we had headaches and such. It’s a family tradition that comes from my Burmese grandmother, who apparently used to practice it, and my dad, being Anglo-Burmese, picked it up. My mom is Anglo-Indian, and I grew up in Brunei in the Far East before moving to the UK when I was quite young. My interests always developed through problem-solving, which led me to a 35 year career in town planning, project management and community development. But the real connection for me was always about helping people in various ways. I’ve always had this drive to improve things around me, whether in the environment or within communities. Working in community development, I saw a lot of issues affecting people’s lives directly. That drew me towards more holistic approaches, trying to understand the bigger picture to address specific issues. I’ve been interested in both the body and the mind. Holistic approaches to massage seemed like a way to bring these elements together, especially seeing the impact of chaos and stress on people’s bodies in deprived communities.
I’ve always been into sports, mainly badminton, so dealing with injuries became another personal problem-solving challenge for me. All these different aspects of my journey have come together in what I’m doing now. It’s about looking at the bigger picture, identifying key issues, and formulating practical solutions. But the most fulfilling part is being hands-on, having someone walk in and generally walk out feeling better as a direct result of what I do. That personal connection and direct impact are what have kept me drawn to this work. It’s shifted from wanting to improve things on a broader stage to making a tangible difference on a personal level, and that’s what resonates with me the most now. And now it is by having a more holistic appreciation of the ‘whole’ person and using Body-Mind approaches to work with all facets of people that I feel I am now able to do my best work.
Your journey involved dealing with setbacks, anxiety, and supporting others through similar challenges. How have these personal experiences shaped your approach to helping clients navigate mental health and physical wellness?
I’ve been through my fair share of challenges, both in my career and within my family. Growing up as the youngest of six in a large family, I was very aware of various pressures and difficulties, particularly around mental health struggles that impacted our lives. While I had a positive upbringing and much to be grateful for, there were certainly struggles. I’ve also navigated through family troubles and witnessed the ups and downs my wife and her family have faced, which have had a profound impact on me personally. Career-wise, I have faced challenging times and have made a number of changes in direction which at the time were difficult to navigate. But looking back I can see how these have been pivotal moments in my life where I have had to make changes which have ultimately led to personal growth. It’s made me realize the importance of delving deeper within ourselves to draw on inner strengths.
I’ve always more of an introspective and reflective person. I have always questioned things and have always been fascinated by how things work – especially people! I remember a favourite book of mine was ‘Manwatching’,by Desmond Morris. Another influential book was Sheldon Kopp’s “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!”, a very apposite reminder not to depend on external ‘gurus’.
Drawing from diverse sources, including my upbringing, various traditions like Buddhism from my grandmother, alongside Catholic and Christian teachings, I find myself drawn to Eastern approaches for their holistic perspective. Understanding the problems people face, especially through working closely with those dealing with significant challenges, has deeply influenced how I approach my work. Being able to relate and understand the difficulties people encounter has profoundly shaped my approach. I think if I didn’t have the life experiences I have had and the various challenges I have faced, I wouldn’t be able to be the therapist I am today.
Your mobile and corporate massage services cater to diverse clients, including corporate entities and individuals seeking mental health treatments. Could you share how body-mind coaching and massage therapy contribute to mental well-being and resilience, especially in high-stress environments or during periods of change?
I provide massage services to various corporate clients, like the Marriott Hotel in Leeds and York, the National Health Service (NHS) Trusts in Leeds as well as with various other private companies. Much of this work is as part of a general drive to promote health and wellbeing in the workplace. Occasionally, I get asked to deliver a broader wellbeing package, such as the Wellbeing Retreat Days “Your Body Talks, Are You Listening?” for NHS staff, which involves a whole day of workshops, self-reflective group work and massage tasters. Such days present an opportunity for people to stop and reflect, and to recharge so that they can go back feeling heard, validated and refreshed.
Having worked at various levels it the public, private and voluntary sectors, I can also bring a wealth of experience and understanding of life in these areas of work. So I am able to relate more readily to staff at all levels in the workplace.
I find now that I am attracting more people who are finding themselves at a major crossroads in their lives – whether that’s due to changes at work or in their personal lives.
My approach integrates somatic coaching into my practice. When people come in for these sessions, I aim to delve beyond their physical pain and explore the context of their lives. Stress is a major concern, and it’s crucial to help people grasp the connections between their body, mind, and emotions. As I engage in conversations, it becomes evident that our bodies often mirror how we feel, and our emotional state is influenced by our surroundings. This understanding shapes my approach to bodywork. It’s not only in corporate settings where I engage in this; more so in private sessions. Helping people identify their pressure points, whether physical or mental, allows them to comprehend the stress they’re under and why it manifests in their body. Then, we can tailor our approach to address these aspects comprehensively. Stress is a significant factor, especially in the corporate world, and there’s a noticeable shift toward acknowledging mental health. Working on the body physically seems to offer an entry point to encourage people to consider how their physical discomfort might be related to stress. I’ve observed an increasing interest among businesses in adopting a more holistic approach to enhance the overall well-being of their staff and key individuals, and that’s a positive trend.
Your background in sports and personal experiences with injuries and recovery provide a unique perspective. How do you integrate this athletic background into your approach to helping individuals overcome physical pain and regain mobility?
The main point here I think is about understanding what it feels like to perform well and the frustration when something doesn’t work as expected! My clients vary from badminton players, golfers, runners, climbers, cyclists, There’s a deep connection when people express their desire to get back into their activities. I love this aspect of my work! It’s almost like being a detective, piecing together how an injury occurred, the movements involved, and the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia are affected. This understanding, especially in sports, is crucial to figure out the right approach for treatment and recovery. It’s fascinating to inquire into the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind injuries and then tailor massage techniques and exercises to address them. Besides the physical aspect, there’s this added layer of helping individuals cope with being injured, delving into the mindset. That’s where the integration of body and mind coaching becomes essential. And being a sportsman myself, I really know what it’s like not only to move with the different types of sports, but also how an injury might affect their game and their mindset. Nowadays, my focus is not just on the body but also on getting into people’s minds—it’s an integral part of what I do.
In your consultations and work with clients, how do you address the intersection between mental health and physical well-being? Can you provide examples of strategies or techniques you employ to help clients achieve a balance between the two for overall wellness?
I believe one crucial aspect is helping people realize that the mind isn’t just something disconnected from the body; it’s the complete integration of mind and body that underlies many issues. A key part of my approach involves helping people understand how intricately linked their nervous systems are to their experiences. It’s about connecting the dots between how their minds respond to pressure or trigger fight-or-flight responses, and how that deeply affects their bodies. Educating them about trauma’s impact and its connections to our nervous systems and bodies is fundamental. Once they grasp this connection, they can start to piece things together. Seeing the bigger picture helps in dealing with their challenges. Sometimes, it’s about returning to the basics, like teaching simple breathing exercises—taking a moment to pause between inhales and exhales, feeling that slight pause, akin to the moment at the top of a yawn before the release. It’s incredible how experiencing these simple sensations helps people make sense of things. Mindful practices are also incredibly useful; they bring us back to the basics when things get overly complicated.
If you would like to find out more about Gerry Andrews, visit https://www.massagetherapyleeds.com/