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Meet Archie Underwood of Rolf Structural Integration in North Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Archie Underwood.

Archie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was raised in a holistic household. We ate clean. I went to acupuncture. Did a little yoga. My parents received a type of Structural Integration when I was 15, they both went through the traditional 10 series. So I had early exposure not only to holistic healing as a lifestyle but also as a potential career. My first mentor was my acupuncturist Muna, she ran the Peaceful Earth Clinic in Hillcrest. She told me I should get into acupuncture because in her words, “with acupuncture you put the needles in and then leave the room when their insanity leaves the body, with bodywork you have to be there while it’s happening”. I obviously didn’t take that advice.

I started my training in bodywork at 18 years old. I remember most of my fellow students being women old enough to be my mom. It was a very different climate back then for bodywork, not a ton of young people getting into the profession. I was attracted to the concept of Structural Integration and found a mentor in Ed Maupin, Ph.D., a first generation Rolfer. He was Ida Rolf’s student and taught with her in the late 60’s at Esalen Institute which was where this work first gained its foothold. I was attracted to Ed as a teacher the first time I heard him speak at IPSB (a school that was in San Diego 1977-2017) in 1998. His academic approach and training in psychology meshed wonderfully and I knew I needed to learn as much as I could from him.

So I trained. I received a Bachelor of Humanities degree from IPSB. After I finished my Structural Integration training I taught in the program alongside Ed at IPSB for five years.

I’ve now been practicing bodywork for 18 years in San Diego. I have a practice in North Park and I am blessed to have wonderful clients I get to work with regularly.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting any business is hard. There were definitely years where I was barely making it, times when I second guessed my career choices. Being an employee in this industry can be pretty disheartening as the standards are pretty bad for bodyworkers. But as I started to work for myself I seemed to attract the right clients and things changed for the better.

I feel very lucky to be in the position I am in. Still to this day I am full of gratitude that I get to do this work. Clients just keep showing up and I try and remember to be grateful for that!

Rolf Structural Integration – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I practice Rolf Structural Integration. My style is a classic version of Structural Integration, I have a lineage that goes back to the creator of the work Ida Rolf, Ph.D. I do my best to follow in the footsteps of her work.

I specialize in helping people deal with gravity better. Learning how to relax is what some people need. Others need to learn better muscular engagement. And still others need to have scar tissue work done on old injuries. I occasionally have clients that are holding onto emotional trauma in their body. My goal is to meet a client where they are at, assess the best way to approach it and go from there. People are all unique and going into the work with an open mind is vital to appropriate treatment.

I love a challenge and I love variety. I’ve worked on Olympians, paraplegics, professional athletes, grandmas, and weekend warriors alike. Chronic pain is a common complaint or lack of mobility, these are specialties of mine.

Be on the lookout for my forthcoming book, “The Posture Paradigm”.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me means doing what I love and getting paid for it. Not being inhibited by money, but also not working so hard I can’t enjoy the rest of my life. I have a deep held belief that life should be balanced with work, play and leisure. I love reading and learning, so success should include time for that too.

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Image Credit:
Archie Underwood

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