Meet Our New Coach, Esther Smith

My journey towards becoming a Samsara Coach has naturally stemmed off of the life path that I have been traveling for quite some time now…

Effective programming and coaching is all about organization. It’s about developing a relationship with the athlete that illuminates the biomechanical, metabolic and mental demands of their athletic pursuits. This understanding drives the assessment process and helps to guide the programming, monitoring and adjusting of their plan on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

When I was young I loved to plan. There was not a lot that I could control in my wild, unstable upbringing. Setting goals and having a calendar of activities and learning always felt anchoring to me. Seeing how one could plan for good things to happen, and then watching as the months passed and special dates or achievements came into fruition was satisfying and orienting for me. I was raised to be active. Even on rainy days growing up in the Northwest, we would make sure to get out on a family walk or hike, sunny days were spent on trails and in the water, and you better believe it- if there was good snow we were skiing it! 

Movement and athleticism has always been fun to me. It has brought me joy, a sense of grounding and self-confidence. I was involved in organized sports growing up, but mostly I have been drawn to the self-directed arenas of climbing, trail running/trekking and backcountry ski touring. To this point, I have never lost the joy of training because it was never forced on me and it has never led to making me feel worse; in my body or in my mind. In fact, quite the opposite is true in my experience. Whether I have wanted to condition for a self-supported 32-mile run across the Wind River mountains with a handful of lady friends, climb 5.13a sport or be fit for big ski tour days in the Teton backcountry, structured training has enabled me to accomplish these goals.  

I firmly believe that no matter where one may fall on the continuum of athleticism or how much one may hurt moving, exercise should never be a grind. It becomes a journey to understand what the body needs in the various moments and chapters in one’s life, especially in the low points. I have experienced many significant injuries of my own which have shaped me as an athlete and as a practitioner. A herniated disc in my lumbar spine, left ACL reconstruction surgery, Lisfranc fracture of my right foot, the list goes on, as it does for most of us who have spent more than three decades on this earth playing hard and living a life on the sharp end.

This comes into play for me as a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Pilates instructor. I have been working with people who are experiencing pain, weakness or limitations, helping to build the physical and mental bridge back to high performance and simple activities of daily life. I still hold true to the belief that movement is medicine and it is always part of the prescription for returning the body and mind to homeostasis and optimal functioning. 

Through my mentorship with Zahan over the last nine months and observation of the Team of 30 athletes on the Samsara journey, I have learned some important coaching lessons, beyond the books and the science that I’ve happily had my head stuck in. These lessons continue to echo through all the aspects of my life and help to offer me direction amidst the greater experience that we are all a part of:

To be courageous is a willingness to have the tough conversations and to embark on the archetypal “hero’s journey”. Life, and high performance, is about determination, facing the “dragon” (and slaying it) and then returning home with the gifts that you have gained along the way. Home is within us and it is also our community and this planet that we all share.

To be curious is about learning and growing from other’s experiences, and reflecting on our own. Curiosity compels us to research, to fail, to gain understanding, to always ask questions, and above all, to listen. It’s through questing that we discover our physical and mental limits and learn to push them in healthy ways.

To be compassionate is a value that I believe should guide coaching. Most important, is to be compassionate to yourself, to this planet and to others. We have enough feelings of guilt, shame, competitiveness and negative comparison in this world. We have to remember that this journey through life is about how we want to “feel” and creating relationships and environments that foster the good stuff. There is no denying that feeling strong, fast, agile and capable feels damn good. This is available to any of us through full spectrum training. 

So if you’re broken, if you’re intimidated by training, if you are an advanced athlete who is also advanced in your years, or if you’re simply a crusher dragon slayer; drop me a line and let’s discuss how working with me through the Samsara Method might just be the orientation towards that “good stuff” that you’ve been searching for.