By Emily J. Weitz
It’s not a gym, even though when you peer through the expansive glass windows it might look like one. It’s not a physical therapy office, even though when you walk through the basic exercises that start with super-conscious movement, it might feel like one.
“Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT) is unique,” says Andrew Reilly, owner of Integrated Exercise Therapy (IET) in Bridgehampton. “Nobody else out here does what we do.”
Reilly has been out on the East End for 12 years. He has a degree in exercise physiology and was a personal trainer for a long time. But it was corrective exercise that really spoke to him. He wanted to help people change their lives by eliminating pain and fostering healthy alignment.
“Neurokinetic Therapy was the game changer,” he says. “I started going to see speakers, and going to seminars. I was fascinated by NKT. I did a course in New Jersey and then another course, and I got certified. I’m the only person out here certified in NKT.”
So what exactly is it that they do at this non-gym, non-physical therapy office? They analyze the body, top to bottom, and observe how a person walks, carries his head, and sits. With this understanding of basic habits and patterns in the body, the idea is to correct unhealthy patterns and fix pain and imbalance at the root.
“We use a combination of Neurokinetic Therapy and corrective exercise to correct dysfunctional patterns in the body,” explains Reilly. “In this way, we are reprogramming the motor control center.”
The motor control center is located in the cerebellum of the brain, and it’s the place where movements are stored, patterned and repeated.
“As kids,” says Reilly, “we move well, but through life — stress, injury, sitting — we sacrifice quality movement. The hips and neck can get locked and sore.”
In his practice, Reilly evaluates different movements in the individual to find the ones that are unhealthy.
“The brain wants to go a certain way,” Reilly explains. “I’ll ask a client to fire a certain muscle, and they can’t find it. It’s like all the muscles are a series of switches, and they work in a sequence. When one switch in the sequence gets thrown off, problems arise.”
Reilly finds that often a large muscle will stop working because of injury or strain, and a smaller muscle will step in to do the job. Then it will get overworked and strained.
“We test the muscles to see where the dysfunctional pattern is. When we find the muscle that is offline, we can see the connected muscles release. One releases, and the rest fire in the correct pattern.”
In his practice, starting basic is key. Reilly starts by teaching his clients to breathe and learning to stabilize the body in basic patterns.
“I think exercise has gone in the wrong direction,” Reilly says. “With all these boot camps and insanity workouts, everyone thinks the harder, the better. We believe that the most important rule is dosage. If two is good, that doesn’t mean ten is better.”
Instead of starting clients with lots of intense exercises, Reilly starts at the beginning, going back, in a way, to the way we learned to move.
“Think about the first things you did in life, like sitting up and rolling over,” he says. “This is where we start.”
That means if you come in to IET, you may see people crawling on their hands and knees and rolling around on the ground. Clients range from 80-year-old women to National Football League stars, all going back to their roots to find the problem and correct it.
“These are primal patterns deeply ingrained in the brain,” say Reilly, “and we are resetting these patterns. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s been proven that by teaching people to crawl and roll and breathe better, their brain remembers how it used to work.”
Once they’ve learned some basic corrective exercises, Reilly assigns his clients homework to go home and repeat. This retrains the brain to use the correct muscles again.
While some clients have been working with Reilly for years and years, his goal is generally to get people in, get them fixed, and get them on with their lives.
“We are looking to give people their lives back,” he says, “so they can go and do what they want to do outside our facility.”
Integrated Exercise Therapy (IET) is located at 2113 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton or online at www.ietbridge.com.