Captain, Carlton Football Club
I've been working closely with Mark McGrath since October 2007 in which time we've spent most of our time exploring more effective movement patterns. Mark's approach to maximising my body's output has been different to many of the approaches before and encompasses the body as a whole rather than taking a compartmentalised approach. I've thoroughly enjoyed my work so far with Mark and have been amazed by the increase in knowledge that I've gained about my body and where it's at. Not only do I feel that my work with Mark has improved my ability to play sport at the elite level, it's also improved my quality of life outside of my sport and has left me feeling like I have more control over my physical well being and am not being "held hostage" by the aches and pains which arrive from time to time. The mind, being part of the body, is also an area of interest for Mark, and over time I've enjoyed hearing his perspective on various issues and the importance that the mind plays in both elite sport and day to day living. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Mark into the future.
Investor / Writer
Mark and I have spent a great deal of time together over the last two years. I have eagerly looked forward to this time every week, where I have been free to explore with someone I can trust and who has helped to guide me on my journey.
Mark’s approach to life and wellness is holistic and embracing of all aspects of the individual. Mark has a profound understanding of functional movement and stability and has uncovered many timeless principles that sit at the foundation of all activity. Initially, Mark guided me for hour upon hour of how to pay attention to these dynamics in various postures, mainly using the floor and the wall for feedback to understand and develop a greater awareness of my body in space.
With an increasingly clear picture of those things to be mindful of, I have found a tremendous ease and grace with much of my movement. Together, Mark and I have explored a great number of dynamic activities, including running, tennis, surfing, soccer and golf (to name a few), which have been amazingly instructive and fun.
I have always had aches and pains and problems with my body, although having spent much time trying to take care of myself. Under Mark’s guidance, I have been pain free and thriving whilst being more active than I have ever been before.
I would describe Mark as a sincere, curious and wise individual and a man with a great sense of responsibility. Being in his care has been calming, freeing and inspiring. Mark seems to find a way of always making things fresh and interesting and I truly relish the time we spend together.
It is a great privilege to be both a pupil and friend and I look forward to continuing and strengthening our relationship into the future.
High Performance Manager, Hawthorn Football Club
My journey with Mark started in the late 90’s at the Victorian Institute of Sport. Without Mark formally knowing it, he acted as a mentor to me, and inspired me to look past the many traditional methods of athlete preparation. He was always exploring the human body and mind for more efficient ways of preparing athletes.
Mark has an in depth knowledge of human posture and understands the importance of alignment and breathing to efficient movement. His eyes and ears are a real strength. He has an ability to see the movement being undertaken, evaluate it, then use a wide range of techniques to ‘unlock’ the previous patterns. The connection between body and mind is ever present in mark’s work. Many of his techniques are aimed at breaking down patterns that are embedded into the subconscious.
Mark is currently working with a number of Hawthorn players. I have challenged Mark with some very difficult injury issues. The results for the players involved have been very powerful and they have all enjoyed being challenged by Mark’s methods. I have seen some dramatic changes in these players, both physically and mentally, since they have worked with Mark.
AFL Footballer, Hawthorn Football Club
I've come from having 2 knee reconstructions and feeling like I might not play football at the highest level again, to being in a position where I've now had 3 knee reconstructions yet I'm confident I can play at the level for a long time to come. Mark's help in getting me to that state of mind and body has been crucial.
During my time with Mark I have learnt not only to understand my body better, but my mind as well. Through his teaching I have learnt to be inquisitive, ask questions about what I am doing and look outside the box for improvement. I have no doubt this will hold me in good stead for the rest of my career and my life after football.
Student / AFL Footballer
I have been working closely with Mark McGrath for the past 4 months.
I was diagnosed by numerous physiotherapists and sports doctors with osteitis pubis when I was 15 and have been battling with my rehabilitation for two and a half years until I met Mark. Physiotherapists tended to focus on the short-term aspect of my injury rehabilitation, whereas Mark takes the long term approach, looking at the mechanics of body movement which will not only improve my football but it will also improve the efficiency of daily tasks in my everyday life.
In our opening session Mark evaluated my physiological state. I was like the majority of young footballers my age (17) with a vigorous workload; training, running, weights, core stability etc. This resulted in the severe tightness and rigidity of my body.
With my old pattern, I mistakenly equated toughness with rigidity and pain with injury in an environment where I was fed the lines “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “no pain, no gain”. These lines are representative of modern western society’s belief that more is better.
My regular fortnightly sessions with Mark consist of remedial massage, control and stretching exercises. Mark has designed a series of control exercises as a way of checking in to your body. These exercises have also been shaped so that you complete the exercises while centred and co-ordinately balanced, with the objective that this balance will become imprinted in the conscious and subconscious.
Each session we make new discoveries and establish clear reasoning of why certain things are happening within my body. For example; why I am getting pain in the left side of the groin and not in the right? Then Mark sets out highly appropriate exercises to assist me in releasing tightness and/or eliminating ‘problem areas’.
Mark applies the ‘gentle touch’ in his approach to educating his patients. He fosters an environment to explore and understand his teachings, and then allows the patient to decide on its effectiveness for them. In my case, this approach to treatment has been very successful and I would highly recommend Mark’s approach to anyone who is struggling to overcome their injury woes, or just simply looking for a more efficient way to healthy living.
Mark is a highly intelligent individual whom has studied eastern ideologies in comparison to the western views of today. He has also been heavily involved with the Australian Institute of Sport and has explored the theories of balance, movement and skill along with an array of other research including martial arts. His many travels across the globe and the wealth of experience he passes onto his students is remarkable.
Since my first visit to Mark, his knowledge and coherent instruction has blown me away. This in conjunction with my personal discoveries has changed my view dramatically. No longer do I consider more as better, but rather, quality is superior. No longer do I feel down in the dumps because I am frequently getting injured or sore and I don’t know why. But now I do know why. It all makes sense and I’m starting to feel in control of my own body again. No longer do I kill myself in the gym 5 days a week (for 2 hours each session), 30+ minutes of core stability 3 times a week, 3 running/training sessions and one heart rate busting bike session per week. Instead I replace this work with quality in my control exercises, which for me, is far more satisfying and so far, far more beneficial. I feel centred, clear and ‘free’ after every daily control session that I do and, it is now a vital component of my recovery pre- and post-training and also matches.
Currently I am benefitting from the foundation that we’ve put in place over the past few months, now that I’ve returned to training and playing football. It has been a long, challenging road with my recovery, to say the least, but working with Mark has opened my eyes to whole new level of experience. I now feel confident that in the coming months I will be able to play football free of injury. Thanks Mark.
1992 Olympic Bronze Medallist - High Jump
To know Mark McGrath is to challenge the very way you see your 'self' in the world, and to begin to understand your experienc-ing...and all this from taking a single step!
Mark has picked the eyes out of the best of the East and the West and offered it up in such a way that you cannot not understand it. Inherently...all the hard work has been done, and yet in engaging with Mark it has only just begun! However, hard work has never been so intruiging, intrinsically inspiring, and effort-less...all you have to do is get out of your own way!
If you want to change your life, remove pain from your experience, or fulfill absolute potential in any field of endeavor...welcome to the one stop shop. Mark has helped open a clarity in my seeing that was bursting to emerge, a life-time of work in 7 years, a friendship that I cherish, an opportunity to blossom offered to an old athlete who could have limped and moaned through the rest of his days, reminiscing the times when it was all so easy...well, now ease is a fundamental part of each moment I live.
Cameron ‘Kanga’ McMullan
Athlete / Coach
My introduction to Mark came late in an international sporting career in the sport of Kayaking. During my time as an athlete I largely took control of my own preparation and worked as a personal trainer helping others. Meeting Mark marked a crossroad in my thinking around bodies, movement, performance and more significantly for me an approach to living that has sent me on my own path of self discovery.
Physically Mark has opened up my thinking on movement in general and what it is to truly move well. The idea of preferred patterns of movement is significant. The manner in which we use our bodies physically in turn shapes our physiology and influences what becomes possible from a performance perspective has been the single biggest marker in the path Mark’s influence has set me on. How we stand, sit, walk and breathe does influence the way I move a kayak along the water. I no longer see the typical training week as time lifting weights a bit of cross training and 12 sessions in the boat as optimal. Spending time developing an efficient motor system, developing balance, working on breathing optimally will pay dividends in living generally and from a performance perspective.
Athletes mention quality rather than quantity in the context of training. This generally has meant physical intensity ie working harder/faster. My time with Mark has lead to this concept of quality changing to include awareness and developing an awareness of what my body is actually doing and integrating awareness into the quality equation. By training towards being fully aware of each movement and finding the ease and rhythm inherent in every movement your training session will be of the highest quality. Training can become a form of moving meditation.
This approach changes physical preparation totally; there is no separation between the person whilst training, sitting around at work or socialising, the way we use our body is the way we use our body. Significantly for me this approach takes the ceiling off possibility in terms of performance. Add in the notion of optimal health and what that brings to performance and living and training becomes an all-encompassing joy, your training becomes a way of learning more about yourself and a lifelong journey of discovery.
Marks influence on my development and understanding of myself continues to be significant. In terms of training optimal movement patterns, breathing mechanics, rehabilitation from injuries understanding your true nature and living well. Mark is a pioneer.
International Athlete: Shot Put
I have been working with Mark for the past 8 months. My initial intent when we commenced was solely to improve my Athletic performance through a different avenue of physical conditioning, to ‘plug the gaps’ I was not getting in my gym and event-specific training. This is the reason I came to Mark, but not the reason I stayed.
Having achieved what could be termed some ‘success’ in my sporting pursuits prior to meeting Mark, I knew that I was doing the right things to keep improving and reach higher. 8 months on, I can say that I was wrong.
Like most athletes, I had minor injury concerns. Certainly nothing that would stop me doing what I loved, just constant niggles. Sore lower back, inflamed knee tendons, shin soreness, tight groin. I passed these symptoms off as simply part of the daily training process, and treated with Ice, rest and Anti-inflammatories. I believed that weighing 125kg’s combined with training at a very high intensity simply meant that I was bound to have a few issues. Wrong again.
Seeing Mark once per week, I was initially confused as to how the activities we did fitted in to helping me throw the shot further. Nonetheless, I was willing to ‘put up with’ the breathing and awareness-based exercises because they were quite interesting. I did not realise at the time, but I had started to unpick the tangled ball of string that was my body.
Slowly, I began to integrate the practices of breathing and body-awareness into my daily living. This was when I really entered a period of fascination, as a 23year old male I was amazed to find the basic things I could not do. I had not sat comfortably with my legs crossed since I was in primary school- “why would I want to do that anyway? I’ve got a couch.” Mark’s patience and experience had given me the chance to understand the symptoms that my body was presenting, and a means to work on them without my own ego getting in the way. Gradually the time I would spend after training with ice strapped to my continually sore shins and knees gave way to time sitting on the ground with my legs crossed. I have not had 1 minute of interrupted training due to knee or shin soreness since.
I am now working with Mark fortnightly. The sessions are still challenging, I still struggle to interpret all of the information he presents; but every session I walk out with more energy than when I came in.
Mark’s approach is unparalleled in most sporting climates. His unbelievable care for his clients is fuelled by his own intrigue and passion for the global human. He truly lives and loves his craft. Unlike most modern practices, and with the true characteristic of wisdom, Mark’s understandings are built upon decades of experience in both Eastern and Western methodologies. The work is constantly evolving to suit the present situation and is (refreshingly) not based upon assumptions of knowledge or power.
It is not uncommon to receive an excited call or text message from him, delighting in his latest experience or idea.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is explaining to others what it is that Mark does, everyone wants the ‘one-liner’ to encapsulate his practice. Having my experiences thus far and understanding the profoundness of the guidance Mark provides, I can only say that… it works.