Full disclosure: I first met Stephen Ladd when I was brought on board to write a brochure for Human Form Fitness, the gym that Stephen and his wife, Michelle, own and operate. The brochure was being created on trade, meaning I would get paid in gym time. I still feel bad about that arrangement—they got a tagline and a few paragraphs of advertising blather. I got a whole new life, one that is so far superior and authentic and satisfying than I could ever have imagined when I first waddled through their door on Chesapeake Ave.
Stephen doesn’t know this, but I was bothered by the word choices in their logo’s brand descriptor: Holistic Health, Fitness and Performance Institute. First, “institute”— it’s a gym, fancy pants. Second, “holistic”—that word, like luxury has lost all meaning in today’s advertising parlance.
It’s staggering how wrong I was.
It IS an institute, “an organization for the promotion of a cause.” In this case, that cause is the well-being of Human Form members. And I now understand just how holistic The Human Form is. In fact, I’d offer it as the bar by which all other usage of the word be measured.
So, fast forward to when I began seeing Stephen for his particular brand of transformative life coaching. Much as I did upon hearing the words luxury and holistic, I may have rolled an eye skyward when I read transformative.
Once again, staggeringly wrong. (Why does anyone listen to anything I say with a track record like this? Why are you even still reading this testimonial?)
A session with Stephen is NOT like going to a therapist. (I’ve done that. It served its purpose until it didn’t. And I felt emotionally beat to shit after nearly every session.) Stephen is not going to give advice. He’s not going to judge or shame. He’s not going to insist that you blame your parents for toilet training you two days too soon. What he will suggest, however, is a different way of looking at things. He’ll listen to what you say as you engage in conversations that are interesting, illuminating and, yes, even fun. He’ll help you understand how the mind works—how your mind works. And eventually, I still don’t know how, it all clicks.
For me, it was a series of little-to-medium insights over about a month or two. It was about learning that I didn’t need to react immediately to situations and I eventually became more comfortable sitting with things and the feelings they evoked. I was finally able to trust that when the time was right, a course of action would be obvious and inevitable. And I didn’t need to do anything to make that happen. Just breathe. Well, I had to breathe anyway, didn’t I, so what did I have to lose? And then…
Hey…will ya look at that…transformation.
Before I knew it, I noticed significant improvements in my mood and how I navigate the world—at home, at work and everywhere in between.
Stephen (like Michelle and everyone else even tangentially associated with The Human Form) is a hidden gem. The world he and Michelle created is like the Brigadoon of Self-Improvement. (Ooo, new tagline?) If you’re feeling stuck in life…questioning decisions…replaying the past…worrying about the future…or engaging in any other human-type behavior that you suspect is holding you back from living the life you want, I suggest you sit yourself in Stephen’s comfy chair. (Yes, it’s the one with the poop emoji lumbar pillow.) Start chatting and be open to all that mind-blowingly delicious possibility.