“I’m someone with multiple disabilities and chronic health problems, and am also a trauma survivor, so finding ways to move my body safely and comfortably has been very challenging. Jess is an incredible thoughtful, aware instructor. A few days ago she came to my home and worked with me to design a routine that really works for me–trying things and adjusting them based on my response. Her process is deeply respectful, and she’s able to easily integrate knowledge of the body-mind’s workings from multiple perspectives. I’ve tried to learn yoga in many different contexts, and have always felt that I was required to adjust to the teaching instead of the other way around. This is the first time I’ve experienced yoga as really being for me. Thank you, Jess!”
–Aurora Levins Morales (poet, activist, author)
“I’ve both attended Jess’ access centered Yoga Asana class and her Access Centered teacher training. In her Asana class she manages to practice what she preaches by prioritizing every need of every body (including moods and minds) of students, NO SMALL FEAT! Her training really sets you up for success. The concepts are well explained, her handouts well organized, and a good balance between theory and practice. I felt at least the beginning of my brain rewiring around access needs as a result of attending both. I felt better equipped for teaching asana and felt my needs truly and deeply considered and met as a student.”
“I’ll front this by saying I usually hate anything approximating exercise/activity classes. I have a couple of pretty complicated disabilities for the past ten years that I haven’t fully understood until very recently, so my history of trying classes has been at best painful and at worst humiliating. I’d been wanting to try again with taking care of my body, since disability makes that so hard, so took a risk and showed up to Jess’ class. Watching her make up the plan for a class in five minutes from participants’ stated needs is magic, the level of customization I figured was only an option for well-paid Google employees with personal coaches. What’s more, her own knowledge of disabilities and the bodies means not only can she design an awesome, accessible class with modifications for everyone that means they can always get value out of it, but that she actually knows more about my body than I do so can call me out /before/ I accidentally injure myself (which, as someone with a rare condition, is something I’d given up on ever having, figuring I had to be my own expert and hope for the best). This is the first time I’ve attended a class and felt like I’m really learning and working on building something, and Jess is an ever-patient teacher who, for me at least, makes me feel real comfortable. A+ would recommend! She works magic!”
“Jess is an amazing instructor whose expertise in yoga, teaching and adapting classes to people’s individual needs. Her attentiveness and range of knowledge has helped improve the alignment of my spine and reduce my chronic pain.”
“Jess Schlesinger has been my personal trainer for a few months now, and I can honestly say that working with her is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve been disabled for many years with an illness that made it very difficult to exercise. When Jess first saw me, she was just grateful my muscles hadn’t atrophied! I’ve been working with her on a one on one, weekly basis and my body has already seen significant changes, including new muscle tone and improved strength. Even more than the results though, I’ve been so impressed by Jess’s expertise, patience, and empathy. She’s so attentive and observant that she recognizes my body’s limitations even before I do, and she’s always willing to adapt a movement to fit my needs. Jess and I were truly starting from square one, and she was able to identify movements that could be used as building blocks as my body’s capacity for exercise increased. Exercising was very much outside my comfort zone, and I appreciate that Jess never judged me. I would absolutely recommend Jess to anyone looking to improve their fitness in a healthy, access oriented way!”
“Jess is an incredible resource. She was extremely validating and grounding at a time when I felt at a loss for how to move forward with a movement practice given pain, limitation, and misunderstanding by medical professionals. She is deeply invested in the safety and healing of each person she works with and that is clear in both one-on-one sessions and group classes. I am so grateful to have encountered her and her work and for her deep knowledge, thoughtfulness, skill, and rootedness in and respect for Disability Justice. Thank you Jess!”
“In only a short time working together, Jess helped catalyze a shift in how I experience my body and exercise for the better. As a trans nonbinary neurodivergent feminine person I have *hated* pursuing exercise because it felt hopelessly ableist, macho and transphobic in so many gym and studio settings. Jess helped me hold both my pain and dreams around the pursuit of holistic wellness and helped me breakthrough to a new level of queer! enthusiasm towards myself and my fitness. I trust her deeply to be able to hold anyone’s complexity, self-stigma, shame, and spirit in the pursuit of exactly what they want. We also laughed a lot and I appreciate her honesty, communication skills, and readiness to name complex system of oppressions at play in how many of us approach our bodies and health. Her technical knowledge of the body is awesome, and her work building this new modality, Access Centered Movement, is so important and necessary.”
-Alli R., trans dancer, musician, and disability activist
“I fell in love with yoga in 2010. As a fat person with diet trauma, it was the first type of movement I found in my whole life that actually felt good to my body, and that didn’t bring up memories of compulsory exercising to “shave off the calories/pounds” as I had done in my teens. I started doing it multiple times a week. I thought I was learning a sustainable movement practice.
Then I got sick with one chronic illness, and another, and another. And instead of helping my body heal as I was told it should do, I found all the yoga classes I was going to were hurting me more and more and that I didn’t know what I could do safely anymore. Even the body positive classes I went to, with an emphasis on modifications and customization, were incredibly frustrating, because they were just reminders of what I could no longer feel and do. Depressed, I gave up and stopped my practice.
Then I heard about Jess’s class.
From the first time I set foot in her class I could tell this was something different. It wasn’t just about figuring out what my new-normal body could do safely and sustainably, or modifying traditional yoga poses in a one-size-fits-all way. It was about actually relearning what those words mean when you are disabled and chronically ill. It was about developing a respect for and faith in my new body, not pushing it to do what everyone else was doing or even what I thought it should be able to do. Instead Jess helped me develop the ability to really listen to what my body was telling me it needed for the first time; her classes were about recognizing how brilliant and capable all bodies are, not in spite of their differences from the normative but because of it. This experience was healing for me physically but I didn’t realize at first how much it would be healing for me mentally and emotionally as well, as someone who spent most of their life at war with my body and identity, and being told by the rest of the world that it didn’t look/act/perform like it was supposed to.
I trust Jess completely, and have recently started working with her as a private client as well as going to her classes to address long term strengthening and posture issues and learn how to take care of my body in an everyday way in order to be in less pain. It’s working, and in the process that work is helping me understand and continue working in a new way through the long term trauma that has been held and expressed in my body, and that needs to be processed through it to heal.
Jess really has something unique and precious to offer the world and everyone who has a body could learn so much from her. I have gained a confidence in listening to and feeling entitled to meet my body’s needs from this class that is priceless to me, and as a disabled person now feels vital to my survival. “