Mixing fitness with psychology

Susan Rudnicki Exercise PoseTaken from The Dunwoody Crier – Wednesday August, 11, 2010
By Fran Memberg

When Susan Rudnicki was teaching exercise classes at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in Dunwoody, some of her students asked her if she was also a personal trainer. Rudnicki took the hint. Already certified as a group exercise instructor, she became certified as a personal trainer in July 2009 and began seeing clients in her home in November.

To promote her new venture as a personal trainer as well as her career as a clinical health psychologist and wellness speaker, Rudnicki created a website and other marketing materials. Her entrepreneurial spirit rose to a new level in April when she opened Susan PhD.com – Mind and Body in the heart of Dunwoody, bringing her personal training business and psychology practice under one roof.

Fitness and psychological health go hand-in-hand, said Rudnicki. As a child, she was active in sports. When she was in graduate student in psychological services, she started taking exercise classes.

“Exercise is a good stress reliever,” said Rudnicki. As a clinical health psychologist, she helps patients manage and cope with health stresses related to physical conditions, such as diabetes or fibromyalgia, and emotional ills, such as depression or anxiety. She also speaks to groups about her mind-body approach to wellness.

Rudnicki’s career as a psychologist paved the way for her new business venture. Her psychology practice started in Woodstock, Ga., in 2005. A few years ago, she organized a conference for the Georgia Psychological Association about a mind-body approach to psychological health that focused on grounding oneself in the now, not the future. That experience led her to speaking engagements about her mind-body approach to wellness that adds a nutrition component to fitness and psychological health.

Combining a fitness training studio and a psychological services practice at one Dunwoody location was a natural fit for Rudnicki, a Dunwoody resident since 2000. She and her husband, Eliot, have three children who are students at Peachtree Charter Middle School and Vanderlyn Elementary School.

Dunwoody residents Rena Holland, Michelle Miller and Amy Goldstein are all sold on Rudnicki’s style of fitness teaching, which relies on full muscle integration using natural body weight while creating cardio-vascular strength. Instead of heavy weights, Rudnicki employs equipment such as the Bosu ball and gliding discs, and techniques such as Balletone Pilates and yoga fusion and the TRX Suspension Training System.

“She mixes it up,” Holland said about Rudnicki’s exercise regimen. “She makes it fun.”

Miller, a physical therapist, appreciates Rudnicki’s exercise philosophy not just for the way it’s benefitted her, but also because she has treated clients who have been injured by techniques used by other personal trainers. “She’s smart about the way she goes about strengthening,” said Miller. “She is open to collaborating [with clients] to modify exercises.”

Most other trainers don’t have the psychological expertise to keep a client on task, said Goldstein. “Susan is very motivating. That’s the psychology side. That’s what sets her apart.”

Rudnicki invites the community to a grand opening of her fitness studio today from 6 to 8 p.m. Refreshments, giveaways and free classes will be offered. Regular classes will begin on August 16. The studio is located at 1705 Mt. Vernon Road, Suite F, near Panera Bread.

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