Profile: Heather Glidden is finding the “joy” in changing people’s lives

Joy – Freedom in Motion is a name that perfectly defines the business. Just ask one of their longtime clients.

“When I began with Heather, I was very afraid to walk outside and I had very limited mobility and strength which didn’t allow me to participate fully in life,” says Amanda, who approached Joy after the medical community had basically written her off.

“For me, it was both physical and mental barriers that I had to contend with at every moment. Heather carefully designed a personal program that involved movement and targeted specific thought processes so I (to my amazement) would be successful. Most importantly, Heather has a real understanding of my limitations, fears and vulnerabilities.”

“Heather” is Heather Glidden, who owns Joy – Freedom in Motion with Darlene Sosenko. They opened the doors on Oct. 2, 2017 in the former Espresso Royale location in downtown Ann Arbor. The staff at Joy includes four instructors: Amy Hutchison, Leslie Sapp, Barbara Concannon and Natasha Schaffer. On staff also is massage therapist Rob Meyer-Kukan.

Joy is the meeting of mind, body and intention. They specialize in personalized one-on-one and small group movement instruction. You might call what they do “holistic fitness.”

“We create quality movement and fitness programs for people of all ages and ability levels,” Glidden says. “Movement training, as a distinct subset of fitness, is not always well understood in our society. Frequently, people think of fitness in terms of stretching, strength training and cardio. Although the movement that we teach does lead to increased strength and flexibility, the overall approach is a little different.  We look at how a person is moving and create programs that give them balanced movement.”

For example, if a person spends all day sitting at a desk, they aren’t going to get much movement, and their body will tend to have certain tension patterns like tight hamstrings and hip flexors. That’s going to lead to certain postural habits and can lead to a faulty gait pattern.

“We look at how we can move the body to balance out all of these factors,” Glidden says. “Some of our clients call it ‘prehab’ and say that they see us so that they’ll be less likely to get injured or develop chronic problems. Training your body how to move in a healthy way can help to improve anything else that you do -whether you are doing strength and cardio training in addition to movement training or whether you just want to be able to get on the floor and play with your kids or grandkids. Quality movement improves the overall function of your body and helps all of your activities.”

The long list of healthy and life-changing services offered at Joy include The Gyrotonic Method, The Gyrokiensis Method, Pilates, Yoga, Mindful Personal Training, Galileo Training, Health Coaching, Meditation, Massage, Reiki, Raindrop Therapy, Aroma Freedom Technique and Infrared Sauna.

“What is most unique about us is our integrative approach to mind-body training,” says Glidden. “We don’t use just one method or tool, we have a variety of methods available and use the ones that will meet the client in front of us exactly where they are on that day. Between us, our team has a deep background in a number of different approaches to offering healthy movement, and we specialize in personalizing those services for each client.”

Beginning in May, Joy will offer Yoga Clinic hours. Yoga Clinic sessions are private and personalized to address targeted concerns including fatigue, lack of confidence, depression, anxiety, sleep issues, injury and more.

Glidden says Yoga Clinic is not intended as a replacement for medical care, but may be an effective tool for those seeking alternative or adjunct approaches to assist with wellbeing.

Glidden, 37, a native of Fort Collins, Col., moved to Ann Arbor with her husband Matt Wilson. She attended Grinnell College in Iowa and has a BA in Dance Studies.

Discovering her calling and livelihood was a personal road.

“I was a dancer growing up, but I had to quit dancing in high school due to long-term, unexplained chronic pain,” she said. “The choice to stop dancing was a very painful one and left me feeling lost through my college and early adult years.”
After she graduated, Glidden started a Pilates teacher training program.

“I had no idea at that time that people made a full-time job out of teaching Pilates, so once I learned that was possible, it became my goal to become a full-time Pilates teacher.”

Pilates led to Joy which led to changing lives.

“When I started teaching movement to people, I was astounded at what an enormous difference it made in their lives,” she said. “I realized that I could partner with people to help them get out of pain, to have more confidence, to finally feel at home in their bodies. I saw people really blossom as a result of the work that we did together, and it was beautiful. In offering healing to other people, I also found it for myself. Teaching movement gave me a level of meaning in my life that I hadn’t experienced since I’d left dance.”

And Glidden also is glad she landed in Ann Arbor.

“Ann Arbor has been a really supportive community,” she says. “When it was time to open my first studio, I felt like this was a great place to do it. Darlene and I really wanted to find a space in downtown. It’s centrally located and has a great energy to it. I love walking out of the studio and feeling like we are right in the middle of a vibrant community.”

Amanda is one of many clients who is thrilled that Glidden discovered her true calling and realized it in Ann Arbor.

“Heather created a very insightful, challenging and inventive program that has, over the course of 7.5 years, kept me walking and out of a wheelchair,” she said. “I continually learn new things and feel securely supported in my work with her.  I am able to express my views and feelings, my fears and goals in a safe environment.”

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