A Fitness Artist on Modern Exercise
By Lauren Murphy   Fox News
  NEW YORK — Emory Moore seems like a wise old sage in a youthful man's body. After attending his two-hour class, called Movement Conditioning, FOXNews.com caught up with Emory to contextualize his training program with a look at the modern state of fitness.

William Tolan/FOXNews.com
Emory in action

FOX: How is your method, which fuses many techniques and doesn't have a rigid beginning, middle and end, positive or relevant for today's serious exercisers?

Emory: Because my system is more complete. When they go to their dance classes, their yoga classes, what they're training for day after day is to reinforce principles. I'm doing that too — it's just not as obvious. We always train and warm up, but I call it a body prep, not a warmup.

We emphasize different things at different times of the year. For example, in the winter we do a lot of antidepressants — inversions and backbends. Keeps up a person's spirit. In summer, we get more rigorous because joints are already warm and we can do things without having to worry about lengthy body prep.

FOX: How does your class fit in with what's going on in the fitness world right now? How is your kind of exercise different from a gym?

Emory: We're not selling anything; we're teaching. Everybody behind the desk (at the Sal Anthony Movement Salon) is a performer, a dancer, a martial artist, what have you.

What it's doing for me and for people who have taught yoga for 20 years is it's giving us a way to make a living and a way in which we can reach a broader client base. I cannot go to a health club and say I'd like to teach.

There is no category for what I do. They can't put it in a little box. Even though I'm popular, the better I get, the less appropriate it is. There's no one to sub. That's the uniformity of those things.

FOX: What do you think the difference is for people between a crowded gym and a "space" like the one you currently have?

Emory: The difference between that and say Equinox or Crunch, in my humble opinion, has nothing to do with fitness. It's designed for making money on a mass-market scale. They are not yogis, dancers or gymnasts. They focus on mindless exercise, on distraction. The TV screen is what people are focusing on. Or the blaring music. None of them ever was about health and fitness, it was about money.

FOX: So you design each workout on the fly. What is your method?

Emory: At the level where I am, when I come, I give a class according to what's appropriate. If I have a plan and try what I may be feeling and thinking is not what you need. I give based on what people need. I create on the spot. And you would never know it. We're artists. I don't study for 20-some-odd years to do the same thing over and over again.

FOX: Is your workout a difficult concept for some rigid types to grasp?

Emory: You cannot appeal to and educate everyone. This is a higher level. Some people are not interested in exploring themselves. Anyone who is artificially developing the external — they are obviously not interested in what's inside. [My workout] can be a way they get to explore the inside — you have to deal with yourself and be disciplined.

Unfortunately, sometimes the goal is the external change you exhibit. You get muscles, and that becomes sort of a crutch. One, you have to maintain them and if you don't, your self-esteem is in jeopardy. But that's a certain segment of the population. They have to be willing, looking for something deeper. They have to say, this is not working for me. I've got muscles but I'm not happy. I'm miserable.

FOX: Can anyone take your class, or do you have to know the techniques, be in shape or especially athletic?

Emory: Depends on what level I teach on. Even if you were new, I just look at you and I know what you can do. I evaluate people as they go along; that's my job. You have to be present in every movement, to be mindful. Because in the classes I teach, you won't be able to pull [the movements[ off at all. Or you'll get hurt or hurt someone else in partner work. And the breath. Be able to control the breath. Each movement has its own breath rhythm; you get rid of the excess heat with breathing, not through perspiration.

The class is structured according to principles ... alignment and strength together, balancing the body. Being strong means nothing without being flexible and vice versa. Mobility issues lead to circulation problems. That's what my class is designed to correct: habits they've had and reinforced.

FOX: In a sense your program is about getting childlike but it's also about fixing adult misalignments and unblocking adult stuff. Does that make for an emotional release? Why is this so liberating?

Emory: Because we bring them back to play. Multimillionaires come and they love it because they get to play. I'm not yelling at you saying "One more!"

It's a serious, powerful release. It happens because it's organ-based work.

With twisting or compression, think of your body as a tube of toothpaste. If it's filled with paste and you twist it with the cap on, the contents are being affected.

There is an increase of circulation in certain areas, so there is jubilation and relief and the opposite as well — pronounced sadness, etc. If you fell down the stairs when you were 13 or have an old injury, the muscle has never been freed; the trauma is inherent in the tissue. I restore the range of motion, and it's not just a physical thing.

FOX: How can people work on this stuff on their own?

Emory: If people learn to do it themselves, they will experience quite a bit of release. [At some point] you know enough to go home, turn the TV off, move all the furniture out of the way and do what you gotta do. And keep working till that s--- is out. There are social differences of exploring that stuff without anyone around.