Our Journeys

People train to become Hellerwork S.I. Practitioners from all sorts of life experiences, from all walks of life, and from every age group. For most people, when they feel the inspiration that Hellerwork brings to their lives, it is hard for them to turn away. The desire to want more and to know more propels them to seek training in the same technique that brought about so many personal changes and opportunities for personal growth for themselves.

Some people train to become a Hellerwork S.I. Practitioner to expand their professional skills as a Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Chiropractor, Medical professional, or Massage Therapist. The foundational skills that are part of the Hellerwork process help to enhance the healing process and can bring about significant and permanent change for patients or clients who are under the care of these professionals.

Others come to us because of a personal healing or life journey. Stories of being relieved of pain or the effects of a chronic condition are commonplace among people who train for a career in Hellerwork. Many are deeply inspired by the level of personal growth they experience as they are brought into greater alignment with their lives through the body, mind and spirit. They eagerly embrace the chance to bring that same experience into the lives of their clients.

We welcome you to read about the following Hellerwork Practitioners who came to us in all sorts of ways, and at various stages in their lives and personal development. Each story is an inspiration that can bring you a glimpse into what it takes to make the decision to become a Hellerwork Practitioner.

Robert Scherzinger

In 1968, I had just left the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), having served two years as a radarman during the Vietnam conflict. From the U.S. Navy, I returned to Long Beach City College to obtain an AA Degree. Although math was my major, a friend insisted that I take a “stage movement” class given there, taught by a Miss Judith Aston. That experience in Miss Aston’s class changed my major, as well as the direction of my life. (Who knew that she was to later create Aston Patterning?)

In 1972, I was chosen as a model for a Rolf Training. There were ten Rolf students, four teachers, and Dr. Rolf sitting in a rocking chair watching the teachers. I received two sessions per week, so in five weeks I was an inch taller, my lumbar curve lengthened, and my chest opened. It even enhanced my social interaction with others, as if I were perceived to have more authority. Somehow, it was the “improved” me. I was impressed. When I was a model in the Rolf class, the bonus (besides meeting Ida Rolf) was that my practitioner was extremely gentle and the work was painless, except for the good, occasional “releasing” pain.

In 1976, I wanted a “Rolf Tune-up.” The next Rolfer was very painful, so I thought that he must be doing it wrong. So, I found another Rolfer, and he was doing it wrong, too! Then, I went to a friend who knew about Rolfing, and told him that the last two Rolfers were painful, unlike my first experience. He laughed and said that Rolfing IS a painful experience. I told him that it didn’t have to be, because I got such good results. He said that if I wanted a painless Rolfer, I should see Joseph Heller in Santa Monica.

At that time, Joseph Heller was President of the Rolf Institute. When he worked on me, I could remain relaxed. In one of the sessions, he encouraged me to take the Rolf Training. I really wanted to know how to do the practitioner work; but, I was not willing to give up my secure job.

In 1979, I was laid off my secure job. My profit-sharing check from the company paid the tuition for the Hellerwork Training. I wanted to know Joseph’s way of doing Ida’s work. I was in Joseph’s third training of “The Heller Method,” later to be known as Hellerwork.

Beginning my practice in 1980, I was always eager to rejoin my circle of Hellerworkers in our Continuing Education Workshops. It didn’t matter what the subject matter was, I went just to be in the group energy. The experience was powerful and empowering.

Since 1982, I have been in practice at the Health Integration Center in Torrance, California. David Wong MD is the Medical Director; two Naturopaths; acupuncture; chiropractic; and Hellerwork (myself.)

Since 2011, I have had the honor of being President of Hellerwork International.

Jaime Gardner

I began my Hellerwork training when I was 23, a struggling single mother wrapping up my Bachelor’s degree and wondering what to do next. There were some interesting Master’s degree programs, but in my line of interests they would probably still provide less than waitressing when all was said and done. I looked into all sorts of healing arts schools, and felt ‘eh…that would be okay. But it’s not really what I want to do; I want more’. I wanted to study Hellerwork, the modality that had been transformational for me.

I didn’t think I could afford it; I was on food stamps, with a 4 year old son, and very little support system. Everyone thought I was crazy: “you’re going to study what?” but I pulled it together with some creative hustle, luck, and debt, and spent the next 2 years in the training.

I’ve been practicing Hellerwork Structural Integration for 13 years now, and have nothing but gratitude for having made that leap. I have a thriving private practice, where my biggest problem is too many clients. I work with people from all walks of life; my clients inevitably nourish, inspire, and challenge me. I am never bored. There is always more to learn, and Hellerwork, being an educational process, is an infrastructure for my growth and change both personally and professionally. I’m recognized as a skilled and specialized healthcare provider in my community, and regularly work with doctors, lawyers, insurance companies, state agencies, athletic organizations, and therapeutic networks.

I have the luxury of choosing who I wish to work with, how I want to work, and when. If I want to take spring break off with my kids, I can. If I want to be done with work at 2 in the afternoon or work all day long only a couple days a week, I can. If I want to move, I have a skill I can employ anywhere in the world.

I make a comfortable living, own my home, set my own hours, am interested in what I do—and am appreciated for it. Pretty right on.

Ross Short

In March of 1995, I did not think that anyone could be in more pain than me. My Doctor had completed a plethora of tests in attempt to determine the cause of my debilitating pain. All tests showed negative results, consequently, my Doctor advised me that all of the pain was in my head and the only route of treatment was T3’s with codeine.

I had abused myself physically. I had played baseball at the provincial (state) level; Junior (college) football and hockey professionally in Europe, my body was beaten up. I continued to play at a provincial level in the RCMP for the next 20 years.

We started our family at 40 years old. Our first daughter was 2 and my wife was pregnant with twin girls; I was about to be surrounded by estrogen! I wanted to be a healthy Dad and be able to play with my daughters, not live the rest of my life on T3’s.

I was introduced to Hellerwork at The Victoria Pain Clinic in April of 1995. Within 10 minutes of the practitioner working with me I could feel my pain leaving my body. This was going to be my next career. I am a graduate of North West Hellerwork class of 1995.

We have raised 3 beautiful daughters from the income I have provided through Hellerwork Structural Integration. We are now empty nesters.

A huge THANK YOU to Dr. Don & Dianne St. John; Lonny Fox & Helen Jarvis (God rest); Donna Bajalis; Joseph Heller and Dan Bienenfeld to name only a few of my mentors.

My business Body-Wize, in Kelowna, British Columbia was named after Joseph Heller’s book Bodywise.

Alice Billman

Eighteen years ago, I had a headache. A kind of stomach turning, eye popping, seeing red headache. I had had it for over a week. I tried every over-the-counter medication I could find, I took some old prescription pain meds, I tried caffeine, ice, hot, alcohol, water, vitamin C, and so on. I had tried everything. So I wore sunglasses inside and outside, waiting for it to go away on its own.

One evening at a seminar, one of the participants (Jim Dohn, Hellerwork practitioner ), offered to get rid of it for me. Having nothing to lose, I showed up at his office the following morning.
Not only did the headache go away within 30 minutes, it never came back.

I proceeded to do the entire Hellerwork Series with Jim, and by the end of it, I was convinced that I had to learn how to do this magical thing myself. I spent the next two years in training studying with Joseph Heller in Mt Shasta, and Robert Scherzinger in Long Beach (other Hellerwork Practitioner).

I opened a private practice immediately following my training, and continue to see clients almost every day.

It has been a magnificent opportunity, and I have a wonderful life.

Ilona Lord

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in my early teens. My body was put in a Milwaukee brace for three years to keep the scoliosis from progressing. After being released from the brace, my body stabilized. As I reached my twenties, my back began to bother me. My muscles constantly ached. I tried different exercise routines and found Yoga helped the most. But still, every morning my back would hurt. Pain became a major part of my life. I knew there had to be something that would help. I tried Chiropractic and found some relief. But still my muscles ached. I turned to standard physical therapy when I could no longer open my garage door due to my back hurting. My strength returned from the physical therapy and some of the pain diminished, but the muscle tightness remained. Over time, even with the physical therapy exercises, the pain began to grow again.

Through a serendipitous meeting with a woman at my gym, I heard about Hellerwork. She had received the Hellerwork series and told me of the benefits she had experienced. I decided to give Hellerwork a try. As I went through the series, I was amazed at how much my body was changing. I noticed that upon awakening in the mornings I no longer had pain. I noticed flexibility returning and my body was able to move in ways that it hadn’t been able to move for years. I hadn’t realized until this time how restricted my movements had become. I found that I no longer needed the pain relievers that I had been taking every day.

Hellerwork has enabled such a healing in my life. I thank God every day for this work, as I wake without pain. Recently I had x-rays taken of my spine, and the curves are less than when I was first removed from the brace all those years ago.

I have chosen to become a Hellerwork practitioner because of the tremendous benefits in my health and my life from having received this work. My personal growth from this work has brought me to a place of knowing myself. I want to share this gift of personal realization, growth and release of muscular tension through structural integration to others.

Hellerwork has enabled me to have a professional career doing something I love. Every day I feel blessed to be able to make such a difference in my clients lives.


Roger Golten

In 1982, at the age of 28, I suffered an acute low back problem. Never having done anything ‘alternative’ I went to the hospital for an x-ray but when they lost the pictures before I (or anyone else) saw them, I decided to see an osteopath.

Terrified, I never made it to my appointment there. I got to the door of the practice but did not enter. I was too young to have a back problem! Maybe it would go away. It didn’t.

Then a work colleague told me about Darlene. She sounded sexy. She wasn’t, but after 3 sessions I knew I had discovered my path in life.

I remortgaged my apartment in London, got on a plane, met Joseph Heller in Mill Valley and got selected onto the training. It was a magnificent combination of personal development and vocational training, which took me from zero knowledge about bodywork to being ready to start a practice.

33 years later I still absolutely love what I do, have a great career and a wonderful opportunity to make a difference with people every day!

Catherine Lefevre

In 1992, I innocently volunteered to be the demo model for a continuing education class at my massage school taught by that most beloved of bodywork magicians, Dan Bienenfeld. Little did I know how a half hour in his hands would completely shape the next twenty odd years of my life!

While I am daily grateful for a career I love that has been able to morf into whatever I’ve needed it to be through so many of life twists and turns (how many moms can set their own hours/not get fired for taking excessive time off for school plays, PT conferences, or snuggling sick kids?), Hellerwork has given me way more than a career:

I have been welcomed into a tribe of profoundly kind, brave, sincere, and goofy people, whose level of professionalism and awareness inspire me to be my best, both as a practitioner and as a human. I was never asked to conform or leave other skills or talents I had at the door — I was taught that the key to being an awesome practitioner is not perfecting someone else’s recipe, but rather discovering and honing my own (how often in life are we embraced and celebrated for being exactly who we are?).

Finally, one particular favorite fascial factoid has become a sustaining metaphor for how I want to live my life — years ago, I was taught that fascia ALWAYS has the potential to change, no matter how compressed or dehydrated or traumatized it may be, right up until the moment we take our last breath. That concept, applied to the big picture, is what allows me to stand in hope on our crazy planet.”

Sharon Butler

I completed training as a massage therapist in 1984. Even in those early days, however, I knew that I wanted to be able to do more for people than give them a pleasant massage experience. I wanted to move them, physically, emotionally, spiritually and energetically. But I didn’t know what that would entail or how I would achieve that goal.

It was early the next year that I met a Hellerwork Practitioner at a personal growth seminar. I was intrigued by his explanation of what Hellerwork is and I decided on the spot to go through the series with him. I was in awe of his skills and I loved the experience of change that it brought about in my life. I truly was different from our work together.

Then came the accident. I was rear-ended by another driver and suffered numerous injuries but the one that lasted the longest involved damage to my shoulder which no doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist or massage therapist seemed to be able to help. So, I turned to my Hellerwork practitioner to see if he could help me.

It took just three sessions to completely rid me of my pain and dysfunction. I was hooked. I realized this is what I was searching for and I signed up for the very next available Hellerwork training to begin in July of 1986.

The Hellerwork training turned out to be the most impactful, most personally moving, and most exciting experience of my life. Through this profound training, I have made connections with some of the most wonderful, genuinely caring and inspirational people, I have travelled the world, and I have helped countless people find connection, inspiration, and relief through my work. I thank God, and Joseph Heller, every day for the blessing that Hellerwork has been in my life.

Author of “Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries: A Self Care Program”

Helene Zuckerman

I was a dental assistant back in 1982 and watched how deeply a new patient was able to relax as we extracted her tooth. I had never seen anything like it, she seemed to just let go and surrender the tooth. I needed to know what she knew.

Linda Bienenfeld was a Hellerwork practitioner. I became a client. I remember walking out of my sessions, the blue sky looked so much bluer and the green grass looked greener. I was breathing. My senses were heightened. Life was more vibrant. I wanted to learn this work.

The Hellerwork training will always remain one of the highlights of my life. I began to wake up on many levels. I learned tools to increase my awareness of myself, my body, my own personal psychology, to learn to communicate honestly and deeply, to begin to see, feel and understand the human body and therefore the human being. I learned how to open and have continued this journey for the past 30 years in a heart centered way.

Hellerwork has given me a career where I am my own boss, where I get to help other people open, understand themselves, feel good in their bodies, increase their awareness and capacity for fun and joy. I make a good living, have a lot of freedom and am grateful to be part of this group of like-minded people.

Christine Troples

In 1970, fresh off the farm, wet behind the ears and 19 years young, I became a Stewardess, now known as a Flight Attendant. Yes, pillbox hat, wrist length white gloves, high heels (wish they were sneakers) and had never been to the ‘big city’ in my life! I LOVED it and thought I’d never quit! I flew until 2005 when I retired at the youthful age of 55. : )

Lets back up here just a bit…
In 1989 after having been to a Rolfer, Evelyn Leiner and experienced her magic, I took my mother. She had lost both breasts to cancer and 6 inches of the base of her spine to degenerative arthritis. The results of her Rolfing sessions were, to say the least, astonishing! The whole story can be read on my web site: www.findingwings.com

Several years later, a friend treated me to a Hellerwork session. Some of you may have heard of or know this guy…Dan Bienenfeld.

I loved his work, his integrative movement. He invited me to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the initial intensive in 1996 and that was ‘all she wrote!’ All I knew was how incredible I felt after each session and wanted everyone to feel this great!

While still flying, I ‘integrated’ my training and practice into my flying schedule and eventually, reduced my flying.

Throughout the years I have gone to several Hellerwork CEW’s to dip back into the juice. However, as I was so hungry to know more and more about this fabulous work that I attended many classes. I studied with The Guild For Structural Integration, a Rolfing teacher Liz Gaggini, an oncology massage teacher from Brazil, Sherri Iwaschuk from Thomas Myers’ Anatomy Training and others.

Since 2002 I have had the pleasure of living and working in the Central Coast of California. I have combined my practice of Hellerwork with Visceral Manipulation and Energetics. I love my clients/friends….can’t separate most of them! I love my life and the freedom my rewarding and abundant practice has afforded me. Miss working as a Sky Goddess…? Not one moment! Having tried working out of several offices, I prefer working out of my home. My sanctuary gives me the greatest pleasure and comfort.

My clients love their results in their bodies and love my authenticity. To quote a teacher, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That pretty much defines my practice, and who I am.

To take care of my own body, I practice yoga daily in Pismo Beach at Harmony House Yoga and I get two types of bodywork (in trade) two to three times a month. It’s critical with this level of body work.

Since the tail end of 2014 I have stepped up to gratefully serve as Hellerwork’s Treasurer and am presently one of the organizers for the 2015 Continuing Education Workshop.

Many blessings and much love to all.

Alina Faye

My first career was professional ballet. I was hired by American Ballet Theater when I was seventeen, and excitedly whisked out of Northern California for the big city. About 4 years later, my body and mind were a total wreck. I had a bulging disc, and an anxiety problem that was seriously affecting my quality of life. There was talk of surgery with my back, but I decided quit my job instead.

Now I was really at a loss of what to do, and, even more importantly, I was at a loss of who I was. Serendipitously, I got a gift certificate for a Hellerwork session within that year of turmoil. I had actually heard of Hellerwork before, but knew nothing about it. I didn’t know about the series, I didn’t know that Hellerwork addresses your mind with your body, but I do know that something magical happened during that first session. When I left, something was different. I felt better, a little lighter. I had a sense of heightened well-being. I just had to keep going with this work. I didn’t even know why, but on some level I knew it was exactly what I needed.

Right around the middle of my series things really started to click. First all, I was out of pain. My back “injury” that had kept me in bed for months was simply gone. I had let go, and it had melted away. Really, I was just starting to let go, and it felt amazing.

My Practitioner, Aimee Kolsby, asked me if I wanted to be her student and join the next Hellerwork training, which was going to be one of the last trainings Joseph Heller was going to do. I had another moment of visceral confidence that this was exactly what I needed to do next in my life. I’d left the ballet world and I was looking for so much more out of my life experience. And I mean that in an emotional, spiritual, and physical way.

I couldn’t be more grateful or in awe of what the Hellerwork Training has done for me, and continues to do for me, in my life. It’s an expansion experience like nothing else. Your body, mind, and soul can, and will, transform and grow in exponential ways that ripple into every part of the rest of your life, and the universe as a whole.

I love my Hellerwork practice. In a way Hellerwork is a whole way of being, parallel to a yoga practice, it’s a different way to be in your body and in the world. It’s the opportunity to live differently, with more choices. Taking people through this transformational experience is so rewarding and exciting. Watching change in the world, one human at a time, is inspirational. Seeing relief of pain is magical.

If everyone could be so fortunate and ready to receive the Hellerwork Series, the world truly would be a different place.