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Meet Manny Aragon of The Rolf Workshop Center For Structural Performance in Costa Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Manny Aragon.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born with scoliosis which worsened as a teen. In my mid-20’s I began to get pain that never went away. My wife made an appointment for me to see a chiropractor who eventually sent me to a Rolfer. After 3 sessions, I experienced profound improvement in my pain levels (almost completely gone) and I could move better than I was able to in years. I decided during the following session that I wanted to help others out with this work and set my mind toward making that a reality. In those days (1998), the only schools for Structural Integration were in Boulder, CO and they were full time requiring me to quit my job- which I did. I dove into the work and, after school, went home to start my practice. Since then, I’ve had practices in Santa Cruz, CA (my first practice), San Francisco, CA, and then, since 2007, in Costa Mesa, CA. I see some variety in clientele- mostly 35-55 years old, active people who have some sort of chronic injury, repetitive stress injury, or are trying to improve on the results they wanted but didn’t get after Physical Therapy and surgery. Back pain and poor posture are the most common reasons why people come to me.

Has it been a smooth road?
Lol! The road has been anything but smooth! I am a natural introvert/creative type and businesses do best when run by extroverted/organized types. I have had to really come out of my comfort zone and get comfortable with public speaking, personal promotion, and the repetitive mundane tasks required to run a business. Its caused me to really grow as a person and to step into my potential- business as personal development vehicle so to speak.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Rolf Workshop Center For Structural Performance – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our business is primarily an educational business. On the surface, however, our business appears to be a therapeutic business- we provide The Rolf Method of Structural Integration- designed and formulated by the late Dr. Ida Rolf. Structural Integration is a process which helps to align and organize the human body in gravity- that is, it helps get folks more vertical, with improved posture, energy, and graceful movement. A consequence of this process is that, as the body changes, so does the nervous system, and pain (which is now known to be primarily driven by and experienced through the nervous system) tends to disappear. There are so many really amazing aspects of this unique process- each person experiences it differently. The baseline for most folks is pain relief and fluid movement. But there is also a self-discovery piece that can be really exciting as the client discovers a whole new world of possibility that is gradually revealed as they progress through the basic 10 session series. It’s quite inspiring and humbling to witness this metamorphosis with a client.

Our specialty in the eyes of the general public is postural improvement. The before/after pictures have made Dr. Rolf’s work iconoclastic in that sense. Additionally, at The Rolf Workshop, we specialize in a proprietary movement re-training system with which we coach our clients to self-sufficiency. Ultimately, we are most proud of the part we play in helping our clients become pain free, happier, more active, and healthy people…

Additionally, we have a sub specialty that is very close to our heart- Scoliosis clients. Many people with scoliosis suffer chronic pain and discomfort as a consequence of the spiral rotations in the spine and ribs. As a Scoli client myself, I have spent the past 23 years hacking my body to find out how to use natural movement and specific exercises to not only keep my body out of pain but to actually improve my performance over time. I can do many physical things now at age 47 that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing 23 years ago. I compete in Kettlebell Sport lifting, an overhead weight lifting sport, for example.

Finally, we teach our postural and natural movement system to folks in the movement and rehab fields (trainers, manual therapists, and the like) to provide a more efficient way for them to help their clients.

What really sets us apart from the typical SI practitioner is the educational aspect of our business- we don’t simply treat clients, we also teach them to fish, so to speak.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I grew up on the Westside, just east of Beverly Hills near Olympic and LaCienega and have lived mostly away from the city since 8th grade- though I visit family often. My number one favorite place to be in LA is at the Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. I have so many memories of that place- my older relatives lived in Park LaBrea when I was a kid and shopped there. My childhood babysitter had a shop there for many years and my sister and her friends worked there at Bobs Donuts, both ice cream shops, and Patsy’s Pizza. I love the energy there- the people watching and so on.

In Southern California, everything big happens in LA. There is so much energy and creativity expressed in the city. Recently- I got a whiff that LA is finally urbanizing- growing up so to speak into a “real” big city. The Fairfax district and downtown are a great reflection of this as one can plausibly live without a car- a massive development for the city built for the automobile.

For all of its diversity, energy, and creativity, LA is a very dirty city. Once, a few years ago, when I took the train up from The OC to LA City Hall to see a friend’s photographic exhibit, I was shocked to see the filth on the outside of the surrounding office buildings.

Though it may seem shallow, I have not seen this kind of neglect in other great cities like NY, SF, and Chicago. And though many LA denizens plan their lives around the traffic, I see the light at the end of the tunnel with densification and the urbanization that follows. The Metro build out is super exciting as well- the line under Wilshire, the Culver City development in the works and so on. I grew up taking the RTD and Blue and Green busses. Hopefully the trains will make those journeys more pleasant than they used to be.

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Image Credit:
Manny Aragon

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