We had the good fortune of connecting with Allison Schulte and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allison, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Combining my skills and life experiences, I concern myself with developing treatments for both marginalized groups and physical conditions that our culture often shames (such as Pelvic Floor and Sexual Dysfunction). I’m a longtime advocate for the LGBTQAI+ community within the arts and more recently within healthcare. Currently, I’m developing a podcast called Health Queery where I will query guests on physical, spiritual, mental, and sexual health & wellness in order to normalize what is often seen as taboo. (Follow @pelvicdancer on instagram for updates.).
What should our readers know about your business?
I’m many things and not one of them is traditional. I obtained my MFA from CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), where instead of making much art, I thought deeply about body politics while feeling stuck. I lost interest in galleries and decided I wanted a career that not only merged with activism, but was literally taking physical action to help others face to face. While my work is still artistic, my medium is now the modalities I use with the goal of creating access to more enjoyment, empowerment and functionality for people’s bodies. I’m now a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant with additional training in Pelvic Floor Specialization. I often work with people experiencing PFD (Pelvic Floor Dysfunction) through movement and exercises, and may also provide internal pelvic floor treatments. Having studied, taught and performed bellydance since 1998, can uniquely inform my understanding of core and pelvic biomechanics. I’m also Certified in Applied Functional Science, and Three-Dimensional Movement Analysis & Performance Systems which I blend with my Classical Pilates Teacher Training to assess an individuals’ movement. What that means is I look at how people’s bodies move as a whole and try to find chain reactions that may contribute to pain or dysfunction. For example your hip may hurt because your ankle is doing something funny, so we may actually need to work on correcting your ankle more than treating your hip. I like to incorporate mindfulness, breathing and somatic work making my treatments very customized and holistic. I’m also a Licensed Esthetician, but rather than skincare I focus on “feels”. I love creating ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) experiences by curating thoughtful, auditory and other sensory experiences where I often pull from aromatherapy, acupressure and energy work.
It’s corny but my dad, who’s a motivational speaker of sorts made me say the daily affirmation “Follow your heart, never give up, try your best and play by the rules.”. I did all of these things except for the last one. I’m a rule breaker at heart so couldn’t “follow my heart” and “play by the rules”. I chose my heart! Learning to breathe and listen to my own gut, embracing my differences (not easy!), surrounding myself with diverse people who have had different life experiences than myself, and standing by my core values no matter what are all things that have enriched my life and career.
I’ve found that whenever I’ve had the hardest time breaking down, explaining, defending or defining what the hell it is I’m trying to do (to others or myself) is when the best magic is happening. This is also when I experience the most criticism and am most vulnerable to self-doubt. It’s imperative that I shut out naysayers in order to ride that flow state. This can be extremely difficult if the are people close to or above me (like teachers), but I’ve not once regretted it. I also constantly reinvest in my learning and am a research hound by nature. Many times when I’ve barely been able to put gas in the car, I’ve sat at dinners with friends nibbling on bread while accepting free sips of wine and hiding my growling tummy. It was easy knowing I was about to purchase an expensive book or a continuing education course that would blow my mind. I’ve stopped saying “I can’t afford” and started saying “I choose to invest otherwise.”
I also directly seek and reach out to others to shadow and learn from. It’s amazing how many incredible people will advise or even mentor you if you just ask. Don’t go for the hotshots who are already selling packaged career advice (though that can be rad too if you can afford it). You may be able to get something way better for far less that nobody else has. Do your own homework on the history and pioneers of what you love, not just what’s trending in your field. I’ve been surprised not only by who has been willing to speak on the phone or meet for coffee, but I’ve had a idols invite me to come stay overnight in their homes to learn for days at a time! I really avoid social media unless it’s to promote and try to pick paperbacks or audiobooks over shows. Neuroscience has shown that your brain is not “chilling” when you are processing screen information so it’s important we get real waking rest and recovery. I recently started taking time off as seriously as I do time on. I book stuff as I would clients like camping trips to Leo Carillo or Motels in Joshua Tree. Because I’ve paid for the reservation it’s easier for me to stay committed to my time to rest and reset.
Challenges have been that I haven’t felt worthy of handling other people’s vulnerabilities and have feared that I will never know enough (thus the excessive certifications). What I’ve learned is that there is more than one right way to improve a problem, and that I can’t be an expert in every single option. It’s best to hone in on what skills align with your passion and zero in on your specialties. I’m humble enough to refer folks out if something isn’t within my scope or simply isn’t my jam.
What I want people to know about my brand is that every single treatment is unique, not just to the person but to where they are at in that moment. If you are my client or patient, I see you and you are not like any other person. I will not push you through a protocol or standard class format. I spend a lot of time checking in, going back and forth, feeling (both emotionally and physically) and that’s why it’s a dance. Really, the most valuable information I get is from the patient or client themselves. There’s always some trial and error, but that’s just part of the dance.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a true Valley Girl so we’d be here most of the time (Note: This is a Covidless fantasy itinerary)…
On our first morning we’d visit the Manson Caves and hike up to the boulders by Santa Susanna Pass in Chatsworth for an epic view of the valley. Next, we’ll swing by to look at the barn Mr. Ed was born in before having a hickory burger and chili fries at the Munch Box and going for incredible hot stone massages at Super Relax (all on Devonshire). Then we’d head to Canoga Park to visit my friend Nate at his shop Nathan’s Tattoo and Piercings, buy some imported jewelry… and get a matching tattoo if you’re game! After this we’d head around the corner to Follow Your Heart to shop in their adorable hippie market and have the beeeeest Vegan Rubens ever. Then we’d pop across the street to Casey’s Tavern for a strong cocktail and live, old timey jazz show. We’d probably need to call a rideshare to get us back to Cowboy Palace in Chatsworth where I’d force you to do free line dancing classes with me, because line dancing rules.
The rest of the week we’d meander down Topanga Canyon for nature walks and beach days, we would definitely eat catfish at my favorite black owned business Les Sisters’ and watch sunsets at Stoney Point Park. We’d burn off the grub with bellydance classes at Dance Garden LA in North Hollywood and maybe a walk around Balboa Park. On Wednesday we’d go see my friends dance in the Belle Book and Candle Burlesque Show at El Sid on Sunset. On the final night we’d visit my chosen family at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Echo Park where we’d giggle over and appreciate all the fabulously talented penis art.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My current mentors who are brilliant experts in their fields and constant reminders of how much more there is to learn and how much better I can become. Those are Dr. Julie Guthrie (Synergie Physical Therapy) and Risa Sheppard (Sheppard Method Pilates). My mom Kathleen Monahan (retired LAPL school teacher) has supported me and kept me safe no matter how wild and disruptive my ideas and projects have become. Durk Dehner, Sharp and Marc Bellenger (From the Tom of Finland Foundation) have always provided a soft, loving, leathery place for me when I fall. My partner Songe Riddle and his family remind me to come back to earth and enjoy simple togetherness. I’ve had too many amazing teachers, students, patients, clients and friends in my life to list. I will say that DANCE GARDEN LA in North Hollywood has been a very important place in my life over the years and has gotten me through all kinds of challenging times. They deserve a huge shout out for continuing through this pandemic and bringing AMAZING, uplifting, quality bellydance classes online and at studio!
Facebook: Pelvic Dancer
Jirina Alanko, Amanda Majors, Carrie Richardson, Terje Talts