They say injury can be a great teacher: When Texas Ballet Theater dancer Carolyn Judson was sidelined with a back injury in 2007, her interest in health piqued. “I wondered how I could heal myself, so I began to research and read," she says. “I was amazed at what I found. I turned to food that reduced pain and inflammation." She credits the dietary changes she made, in addition to getting introduced to Gyrotonic, with helping her recover more quickly.
As time went on, Judson decided to expand her education. She enrolled in an online health coach training program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, graduating in 2013. “I would come home from rehearsal and go right to class. The program also covered how to start up a business." Judson has since built her own website, which features many of her popular recipes.
Today, when she's not dazzling North Texas audiences, Judson works as a health coach and Gyrotonic teacher. Her first coaching client was someone in her close circle, but it didn't take long to branch out. “I realized the magic of social media," she says. “I've had contacts from people all over the country this way!"
Judson began teaching Gyrotonic under an apprentice certification last year, and recently became fully certified. She teaches about five Gyro classes a week, and works with a few coaching clients at a time, meeting with them twice a month for six months. She talks with them in person, on the phone or via Skype.
Judson's services go beyond nutrition counseling as she searches for the underlying habits of health issues. She'll teach clients breathing techniques to help with stress management, give them recipes that coordinate with their time restraints and dietary goals, and help them with a sustainable exercise plan. “It's about living a happier, healthier life," she says. “I look at the big picture." She also regularly gives health talks at dance studios.
Judson trained at Deane Dance Center in Sacramento, California, before attending Houston Ballet Academy at 17. There, she met then-director Ben Stevenson, and decided to audition for TBT when he moved to Fort Worth to helm the company.
Now in her 14th season, Judson is TBT's reigning star, conjuring a young Grace Kelly with her Hollywood good looks, pristine technique and magnetic stage persona. She has danced leads in all of Stevenson's big ballets.
Although being a full-time ballerina is still her primary job, Judson considers her work as a health coach a transition into her next chapter. She hopes to continue dancing as long as it makes sense for her body and family, which is growing (she is expecting a baby in September).
Judson sees her paths in dance and health as linked. “Whether I'm dancing or talking about health, I am sharing something I am passionate about," she says. “And I get to learn about my own body. It all works together."