Jesse James Retherford
Movement therapist and life changer Jesse James Retherford, LMT, NKT, and MovNat coach, helps clients to move from restricted or painful movement to better function and freedom. By relearning what it means to move like a human, his clients reduce pain and embrace how they’re meant to engage life on this planet — as natural human movers who explore, play, connect, and inspire and help one another.
While still in elementary school, Jesse decided he wanted to live fast and die young. Inspired by his childhood idol, James Dean, he spent the next twenty years living a high-speed, self–destructive lifestyle. By college, he had a long list of injuries — sprains, jams, dislocations, concussions, severe motorcycle injuries — and the chronic pain to match. As he had no plan to live past thirty five, he lived the first third of his life without any conscious awareness of how he was going to feel in the final two thirds.
As it turns out, his thirty-fifth year had more to offer than he previously could have imagined. His son was born, and suddenly his old way of living came face to face with a startling new reality. This brand new baby person would need his love and support, and Jesse found, in return, that he had a strong desire to live a long, healthy life. He envisioned a future in which he was able to explore, learn, and move freely through the world with this beloved little boy child.
Jesse is a dedicated — but nontraditional — learner. He studied English, education, and child psychology at Austin College in Sherman, TX, wrote poetry and played intercollegiate basketball. After leaving college, he spent a few years working thankless day jobs before deciding to join the Navy. While on active duty, he discovered torn ligaments in his knee — most likely from a four-year-old motorcycle injury. After three unsuccessful reconstructive surgeries, he left the Navy and began working out at a gym. As he endeavored to overcome physical pain and improve his own quality of life, he realized that he wanted to use what he was learning to help others overcome pain and improve their lives.
Jesse became certified as a personal trainer and started working with clients, but he quickly realized he wasn’t done learning. He moved back to Austin and went to Texas State University to study Exercise and Sports Science. Throughout his journey, he has continued to study and gain wisdom and experience. In 2010, he became a licensed massage therapist. In 2013, he earned his Level 1 certification in NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT), and in 2014 he added his Level 2 NKT certification, Anatomy in Motion (AiM) Levels 1 and 2, and became a MovNat level 2 certified coach, learning and developing the skills of human movement for greater function and service.
Jesse believes that the so-called “fitness industry” claims to promote good health but actually sells a very different product: “hooking up.” The message is all about losing weight, looking sexy, turning heads — tight glutes, abs, and chest. The health-and-fitness marketplace doesn’t have a lot to say about what it really means to be a fully functioning, healthy, vibrant, thriving human being.
Sometimes this mentality actually moves people away from a truly healthy life and reaching their greatest potential. It’s possible for people to burn a ton of calories and have some success in changing the way they look, but if they lack function and self-awareness, it diminishes who they are as human beings.
Jesse turns this paradigm on its head by teaching people how to explore movement in ways that change their lives. They experience less pain, less dysfunction, less injury, and they learn how to explore a world that wasn’t formerly available to them.
Jesse offers movement therapy (a combination of strength training, natural movement, NKT, and massage), natural movement classes, and massage therapy in Austin, Texas. He is also in the process of creating weekend workshops and retreats that center around wilderness and survival skills — shelters, fire, edible plants, hunting, backcountry first aid, and supporting yourself off the land — with special attention to harnessing the power of natural movement.
Jesse is always moving, always in motion, but when he’s not working to help his clients develop natural, pain-free movement, he’s generally in the “dad” space. He and his son hang out at the gym, go to the park, read, and build obstacle courses together.
Jesse spends 95% of his time barefoot, and yet he’s obsessed with shoes (although not in the way most people are). A bit quirky, he’s a big fan of the Squatty Potty, has an uncanny grasp of the untaught people’s history of the United States, and is not ashamed to eat seventeen different kinds of chocolate at a time. He’s tough on the outside and projects a strong sense of personal ethos, but also has been known to poke fun at himself or write sentimental notes and poems.