Laurie Rauch

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Ep 94 Performance under pressure with Dr. Laurie Rauch

Knocked off his bicycle by a drunken container truck driver Laurie sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, a broken neck & an amputated right leg. At the time he was in the final year of a PhD in Exercise Science that focused on muscle metabolism and feedback to the brain, the same systems that were now severely disrupted. Laurie’s subsequent research emerged from his personal struggles in regaining his own health and wellbeing. His focus changed to researching the brain-body link with a particular interest in optimising bodily stress reactivity (composure) when performing under pressure.

Nervous system training entails using correct body posture, slow conscious movements and heightened awareness to undo the mental interference which prevents our bodily systems from working harmoniously. This enables us to tap into the 3 motivated behaviours programmed in our deeply subconscious reptilian brain.

‘Motivated’ behaviours, are naturally done without thinking PLUS they release energy into the body. When these do not occur naturally (mostly due to mental interference) the release of energy is inhibited and we feel tension in the body.

Ian and Laurie discuss;

  • Laurie’s Background
  • The accident
  • Free Rock Climbing Incident
  • Discovering to relax the body and focus the mind
  • Learning to walk again
  • Trusting the body
  • Achieving that state of mind
  • Dopamine and the reward system
  • Movement is generated from the spine
  • Serotonin and thinking
  • Stay relaxed, or cortisol and adrenaline kick in
  • Serotonin shuts off the pain response
  • Minimise the stress, the thinking and let the body heal itself
  • Your body and your heart have to buy into it
  • Experimenting with exercise and scanning the brain
  • The effects of Dopamine using Ritalin
  • The link with Dopamine and Obesity
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Exercise
  • The heart healthy ‘Rest & Digest’ system
  • Resting heart rates
  • Drew from the Pop-Up Gym shares his journey
  • Drew’s recovery in the US
  • The lack of rehab/recovery facilities in the UK
  • The Pop-Up Gym facilities
  • Specialised training for wheelchair users

Drew Graham - Pop-up Gym

Drew, 33, was an athlete specializing in middle distance running, namely the 1500m.

During his late teenage years and early twenties, Drew experienced a lot of success on the track, winning several northern championships and competing at the British Olympic trials following which Drew was awarded a sports scholarship to Adams State University in Colorado, USA where he studied human performance and physical education with a minor in business alongside competing in the National Collegiate Athletics Association.

Whilst in America Drew won several NCAA titles at both 1500m and 1 mile and in both individual and team capacities.

Following graduation Drew moved to Texas to become a running coach at Abeline Christian University where worked for several years, however this all came to an abrupt end whilst on a visit to see his girlfriend in Colorado when Drew was training for a triathlon and went for a swim in a nearby lake.

Unfortunately, a sand bar had formed so as he dove into the lake he broke his neck and crushed his spinal cord, resulting in paralysis from the chest down.

Following a year attending a of state of the art rehabilitation in the USA, Drew returned to the UK to find access and opportunities to use similar equipment severely lacking, with those that were available being extremely expensive.  Thus the idea for Pop-Up Gym was born and after two years of fundraising and establishing Pop-Up Gym as a charity, it was finally opened on the 15th January 2018.

We now have over 30 members using the gym  regularly, and plan to take it out on the road around the North of England to help  those who are unable to travel to Gateshead.


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“It took me four months to make a fist in my left hand“ -Dr. Laurie Rauch