BAR HARBOR — There is a new exercise studio in town for those who want to explore connections between body and mind, and learn to exercise “from the nervous system’s point of view,” as Jacques Newell Taylor puts it.
The facility, called Exercise Design Lab, opened in July in the old Pleasant Street Pilates building. Newell Taylor works with individuals one-on-one and in small groups, designing exercise programs to fit the individual. The unique system is called “neuro-logic exercise,” a term Newell Taylor coined.
“There’s this promise of exercise,” Newell Taylor explained, “[that] very few people actually experience. They quit; they can’t stand it. How do you deliver on this promise of exercise?”
The answer, Newell Taylor said, is to create an individualized exercise program that fits the persona, and is sustainable. One of his goals as a trainer, he said, is “creating an exercise where they can succeed rather than watching them struggle. I absolutely love getting people excited about moving their bodies and finding things that feel good.”
The studio lends itself to an individualized approach to exercise. It is a large open space with a variety of weights, mats, exercise bikes, and other equipment.
One state-of-the-art weight machine is pneumatic, Newell Taylor explained, and can be adjusted by one-tenth of a pound at a time.
It’s important to bring awareness to movement, Newell Taylor said.
“You are training your mind when you train your body. When things get tough,” he helps clients learn to say to themselves: “I find solutions rather than quit.”
That’s not to say Newell Taylor has a “no pain, no gain” mentality. In fact, neuro-logic exercise focuses on “appreciation” for the body and what it can do, rather than “aggression,” he said.
“We’re trying to get away from the boot camp mentality, toward a more constructive mind flow. Sometimes maintenance is progress.
“If I got no stronger but remain where I am, I win,” he continued. “That’s an interesting concept to explore sometimes.”
So far, Newell Taylor has gotten most of his clients through referrals and word of mouth. He works with people who have been in physical therapy and finished that treatment, but want some guidance in how to continue exercising, when working out still hurts.
Newell Taylor has electromyography sensing devises he uses to observe how muscles are working, and help advise the client about how to move without pain.
Often, he said, this involves teaching the brain to differentiate muscles again, after compensating for an injury.
This is where understanding the nervous system comes in handy.
“By considering what the nervous system is doing,” he said, “we can make things more comfortable, create situations to work on.”
In addition to working with clients, Newell Taylor also offers workshops for exercise professionals about connecting body and mind.
He said he has been “captivated by the nervous system” ever since he worked in a research lab his freshman year in high school. He attended Oberlin College, where he majored in neuro-science, and took jazz studies as well.
Deciding not to pursue medicine, Newell Taylor trained with Tom Purvis, whom he described as “a brilliant physical therapist.” He ran a small exercise studio in Los Angeles, where he lived for 15 years.
Newell Taylor has also written articles for Huffpost and Medium.
Moving to Mount Desert Island was a family decision he made with his wife Alex, just before having their first child. Alex had spent summers on MDI. “We love the community that we feel up here,” Newell Taylor said.
This article was updated on 9/16/19 to correct the name of the prior business: Pleasant Street Pilates (paragraph 2), and clarify that Jazz Studies was not a double major (paragraph 18).