October 5, 2020


#131 – Beth Lewis: The Art of Stability: Learning about pain, mitigating injury, and moving better through life

“The only time it’s bad posture is when you don’t have another option.” —Beth Lewis

Read Time 18 minutes

Check out more content with movement specialist, Beth Lewis:

Beth Lewis is a former professional dancer and a self-described “educator of movement” who has an unmatched ability to assimilate information and customize training plans from multiple training systems. In this episode, Beth takes us through how she identifies problematic movement patterns and postures to help individuals relieve pain, avoid injury, and move better within all types of exercise. She explains how movement is in fact a trainable skill and provides suggestions for what people can add to their exercise routine to benefit their health and longevity. 

Note: In addition to the extensive show notes, for this episode Drive members also get a collection of 9 instructive exercise videos where Peter & Beth demonstrate several of the exercises and assessments discussed during the episode. If you’re a subscriber, you can now view these videos at the bottom of this page (make sure you are logged in). If you are not a member, you can learn more about the member benefits here.


We discuss:

  • Beth’s “way of no way” training philosophy [4:45]
  • Beth’s background in dancing and how she ended up in New York City [7:30]
  • Beth’s transition to fitness coaching and how her training philosophy has evolved [12:45];
  • Functional Range Conditioning and scapular mobility [21:50];
  • An overview of Postural Restoration Institute, and Peter’s squat assessment [35:30];
  • The important connection between the ribs and breathing [39:45];
  • The role of sitting and external stress in chronic muscular tension [42:30];
  • The important role of your toes, minimalist footwear, and toe yoga [44:30];
  • Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) [48:30];
  • A different view on knee valgus [52:45];
  • Is there such a thing as “bad posture”? [56:30];
  • How Beth identifies an issue, addresses it, and keeps clients motivated [58:45];
  • Lifting weights, the Centenarian Decathlon, and dancing into old age [1:11:00];
  • The importance of the hamstrings versus abs [1:21:15];
  • Benefits of rowing, and why everyone should add it to their exercise regimen [1:27:15]
  • Different roles of concentric versus eccentric strength [1:35:15];
  • Flexibility and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) [1:39:40];
  • Training versus playing sports, and the best type of activity for kids [1:43:00]; and
  • More.


Beth’s “way of no way” training philosophy [4:45]

Resemblance of Beth’s approach to Bruce Lee’s approach to martial arts


Beth’s background in dancing and how she ended up in New York City [7:30]

Beth’s dancing career

  • She participated in a variety of activities as a kid, including gymnastics, martial arts, soccer, and swimming
  • After switching majors her junior year of college, she earned a degree in dance performance
  • She danced professionally for four years with a dance company named Pilobolus
    • This dance company is known for creating an athletic style of dance referred to as weight shifting 
    • The dance technique was “actually quite similar to the way I teach to lift weights. It’s about sharing the load and working with the weight.”
    • See this article for more about Pilobolus and the weight-sharing dance technique they developed
  • Beth did not like the frequent travel associated with professional dancing, which is what led her to change professions

Figure 1. Pilobolus dance theatre. Image credit: pilobolus.org


Beth’s transition to fitness coaching and how her training philosophy has evolved [12:45]

Transition to training

  • Beth was a fitness trainer prior to becoming a professional dancer
  • Broadway didn’t appeal to her, so she decided to return to fitness training
  • She split her time training clients between a few modes:
    • Private 1 on 1 in general strength and conditioning
    • Group classes 
    • And then she got into rowing and started teaching classes at CITYROW

Evolution in her philosophy on exercise training

{end of show notes preview}

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Beth Lewis

Beth is a former professional dancer and a self-described “educator of movement” who has an unmatched ability to assimilate information and customize training plans from multiple training systems. She grew up in a small town in South Georgia where she was a competitive gymnast, swimmer, dancer, soccer player and martial artist. Beth received her undergraduate degree in Dance Performance from The University of Georgia and then joined with Pilobolus where she spent 4 years touring the world dancing. After retiring from dance, Beth moved to NYC to really dive into health and wellness, and has worked with a variety of gyms, including being the Programming Director of CityRow.  Her continuing education in Functional Range Conditioning, Postural Restoration, Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, and applied neurology has turned her into a strength coach with non-traditional methods.

Instagram: @bethlewisfit

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.


  1. H Peter and Beth, so enjoyed this podcast..

    Longevity is my training “thing” as I am a 60 year old dancer and have dancing on my agenda until 100.. so everything,( yes everything) in this video I am teaching also . I am also agnostic pulling from all I have done and learned from: ballet , acrobatics with Cirque du Soleil for 22 years, ballroom dance, yoga, pilates, martial arts.

    I work in a Pilates studio owned by young dancers who look at me and say they want to be looking and doing what I am doing at 60 and beyond.It is a continual learning experience for me. I feel I have discovered some “clues” to manufacturing good movement most of the time. ( I too , have my strategies:) The discussion about conscious and subconsciousness movement was great. I talk about that with my students.

    Beth, you used some terms that I use also,(uncanny!) the 3D breath for example.Finding elegance and finesse in the movements is also my thing.. pulling back from the workout to find this finesse..

    It was so inspiring for me to hear this. I think sometimes I am alone, and yes it is a hard sell to tell athletes to pull back in order to go forward in a more efficient way.

    I love how you talked about rowing and how you are and have been doing it every day ( almost!) for a long time. Using your body as a petri dish requires us to be careful and not exaggerate or we would lose this ability to use our body to experiment with movement principles.

    I will stay connected with you as you are so very inspiring for me. Thank-you Peter for bringing her to my attention. Gratitude to you both!
    Keep on doing what you are doing.

  2. Peter you should have Todd Hargrove on your show. Both of his books are tremendous works which synthesize science from multiple branches into a sensible way to approach movement. His philosophy was the first thing that came to my mind when listening to Beth.

  3. The videos were Amazing! I loved them , I understand its more time intensive to produce vs podcast alone and it was very useful . I’m going to incorporate some of these into my workout today.

  4. To your question about whether you should have video episodes? Heretofore, I use these podcasts when video would be difficult to process, eg. walking and driving. The exception? Clearly an episode with movement examples. Otherwise, the excellent show notes generally provide the visual context I need. I listen to most podcasts and vlogs at 2x speed. While we live in a video mediated culture, much of the value I derive from these podcasts is from the followup questions. Video would not generally improve that. Hence, my vote would be to make video the exception rather than the rule.

  5. Peter & Beth,
    Fascinating stuff! I think there is great value in adding in the video segments. I will certainly look to add some of this into my routine, but what really interests me is getting my son some exposure to this. He has been athletically active from a very young age – always “playing” and involved in multiple sports year around. Now, as a senior in HS he is a one sport guy immersed in baseball and looking forward to moving on to a D1 school here in SoCal next year. As you can imagine, the push now is to get “bigger and stronger”. He has always been very stiff and inflexible, which has ultimately caused a lot of injuries over the years. He can’t touch his toes without bending his knees substantially. To this day he cannot squat down in a catcher’s position…you get the idea.
    Getting to my point, all of these trainers, athletic coaches and strength coaches he has been exposed to are ALL keenly focused on strength and endurance. No one talks much about stretching and flexibility, and it is certainly never incorporated as a part of a training regimen. I see it being ignored right up through the college level, even at the biggest and best D1 programs in the country.
    He has been through countless hours of physical therapy over the years and stretching and flexibility almost never comes up in a meaningful way.
    All sorts of lights came on for me as I was listening to this podcast and then watching the very instructive videos. I would love to make contact with Beth and see about an assessment for our son.
    Thanks for all the great information.

  6. I & many prefer AUDIO downloadable podcast format, even if incomplete compared to video.

    ESPECIALLY for themes of movement, posture, too much chair sitting in our culture – youtube is a prime offender for bad posture in our society.

    Downloadable audio encourages listening while moving out in nature, away from wifi & cell tethers.

    Please do downloadable audio.


  7. Hi Peter and Beth, really loved this podcast. As I just completed my 60th whirl around the Sun I am definitely thinking more about the centenarian olympics! Is there a way I can sign up with Beth for 1-1 training?

    Also, Peter, you asked at the beginning of the podcast if video would be helpful. I listen to most of your podcasts on audio while doing my long hikes so audio works just fine for those. However, for podcasts like this one, video makes a lot of sense. My $0.02..

  8. GREAT podcast!! I listened on iTunes, but can’t wait to go back and look at the videos. Lots of great content on your Insta also Beth, just followed you (mikeronin1359).

  9. Good afternoon Peter and Beth – excellent information and well articulated! I am a Pilates, fitness and movement professional in California. I have studied some of the same modalities as Beth. There is a cutting edge neuromuscular retaining method called PDTR from Dr. Jose Palomar that you may want to check out. PDTR – Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex therapy works directly with neuromuscular receptors to rest them and restore full range of motion and function as well as resolve idiopathic pain. Think of it as neuro hacking to affect mechanoreceptors, nociceptors and other neurological receptors directly and then using exercise to reinforce the neuromuscular changes. I think you would find it mind-blowing to say the least. This is one of the most comprehensive, informative and educational podcast I have found. Thank you again and sharing.

  10. vids good for this subject (really good, i’m obsessed), could have been good for 128 as well as some others. probably no need to watch a video of matthew walker sleeping though 😉

  11. Hey Peter, long time listener of podcast. Speaking for myself, most of the time I just prefer audio over video. After thinking about it, it seems that I find it easier to focus on the conversation with less distractions. This episode is an obvious exception. Many of the exercises or concepts becomes more clear after I saw the image or video. Thanks to you and Beth again for this amazing discussion.

  12. Hi, I am a physical therapist who has been working in outpatient orthopedic PT for 19 years. I just have to comment that what Beth is talking about – these are all principles of physical therapy! This is not new information in our world, but it may be new or unknown to a lot of trainers – as we see a lot of injuries from trainers!

    You really need to have an Physical Therapist on ….. and we could talk about anything and everything from injury prevention to how to rehab an injury and when to seek help from a P.T.. Our profession is rehab!
    Jane Hodges MPT

    love your podcasts by the way!

  13. Peter narrowly averted a particularly treacherous rabbit hole when he asked, ‘What is it about posture?’ Beth replies, ‘There is no bad posture’. Peter dug a little deeper and asked, ‘…for example, don’t we know that too much looking down is going to create unbelievable cervical strain?” Fortunately, Beth acknowledged that she was out of her element, and she said “I honestly don’t know if I can answer that.” Kudos to her.

    The fact of the matter is that there is a huge amount of scholarly research, especially in the last ten years, about the adverse health consequences of bad posture and about the postural exercises can alleviate these adverse consequences. In particular, the bad posture that is of contemporary concern is forward head translation in young populations and, in older populations, hyperkyphosis. This literature is extensive. At the bottom of this letter I reference a couple papers, but there are hundreds more where that came from. Unfortunately, this is a messy field of research, because quite a few of studies have found null results, which muddies that waters. Nonetheless, the overall trend of the research is clear. Also, much of this research is coming from outside the US – countries such as Korea. It may be that we Americans are dismissing the research because it is not coming from our home field.

    I’m not going to claim I’m competent in this research, because as I mentioned, field of research is not tied up with a pretty bow. However, the idea that there is no bad posture is certainly not correct.

    Let me go a bit further. I believe that when Beth says that there is no bad posture, she is channeling a man named Greg Lehman. Lehman has had an absolutely huge influence in the fitness and wellness fields, even if you have never heard his name. In a video I reference below, Lehman says “If you want to have different postures, go ahead. You can sit anyway you like. I like to encourage people to think that there is nothing off limits. So, I don’t want to make a big deal about posture, or anything for that matter. I know people who can adapt to any posture that they get in, if they desensitize to it. So I don’t make a big deal about any posture. It’s just easier that way.”

    I won’t try to make sense of this rambling. In my opinion, Lehman mixes new age mysticism in with science. It is not my cup of tea. The point is that the intellectual antecendents of Beth’s statement about posture can be traced back to Lehman.

    On forward head posture, from Iran:

    On posture correction exercises, from Korea:

    Greg Lehman and posture:

    • Peter, thank you for providing the content. I have noticed from your past episodes that you are having individuals steeped in the body movement world on the show. Seems that in your quest for longevity, you are currently laser focused on the centenarian Olympics piece. You should have Jay Dicharry on the podcast. He is a physical therapist and research biomechanist based out of Bend, Oregon. He is an expert in running injuries. He has written two books, Anatomy for Runners & Running Rewired. I think he would be right up your alley.

  14. Great podcast guys
    Beth is a rockstar, I’m a selfish guy, so the voice only podcast dominates my 90min commute. This podcast was the exception, I watched it again and all the associated videos as soon as I got home. Great demos, great explainations, warm++ interaction. More Beth!!! I would love to hear some more basic explainations of DNS, FRC and PRI (i am not a medical professional), really what i need is remedial Peter Attia podcast (The Drive for Dummies)
    I am married to a Doctor and she is completely feed up with answering my 20+ questions that each podcast generate. FYI I only ask her after I’ve listen to a podcast 2 times.
    Sidenote– My questions after the Thomas Daysprings 5 podcasts on lipids almost caused a divorce, because her lipid classes in the late 90’s didn’t include the terms i was asking about.

    Can’t wait to see more Beth, and you too Peter.

    Collingwood, ON

  15. I’m extremely grateful for these. Everything I was doing was wrong: back breathing? Of course not. Cat cow? Like a chump. Scapula CARs were exactly what the Dr ordered as I have been locked up for over a week and after one day of CARs I started noticing a difference. So thanks so much! and Beth you are like Bruce Li!
    Oh and like most I prefer audio but of course movement training needs the vids. I also love when Peter white boards so for those exceptional times do the vids. But I don’t speak for the plebs…perhaps vids like Rogan does would improve viewership.

  16. Hi, I am interested in the virtual evaluation and training with Beth. Please let us know how can this be done. Thanks

  17. OK, the end of the deadlift video was terrific. Thanks for not putting that moment on the cutting-room floor. The look on Peter’s face when she lifted that diamond bar was priceless. When you can take the pea out of my hand… grasshopper.

  18. Peter,

    You asked for feedback on video. The videos demonstrating techniques are invaluable for this sort of content, and I appreciate them all. The video of you guys chatting is very well produced but does not add as much value over audio.

    In fact, if I had to choose, rather than have a video of you two talking, I’d much prefer having only audio of you guys chatting but with better linking to the relevant demo videos (maybe by adding timestamps to the page with the videos, or by in-page hyperlinks in the podcast notes?)

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