Tiffany Stone’s Integrative Health Approach: Forget the Broccoli and Apples!

REGION – Tiffany Stone's personal training business reaches far outside her home turf of Traverse City. Her client list carries some weight – it includes celebrities. And these well-known athletes and authors are talking about her, happily spreading the word.

Why Stone? What is she doing differently? Why is she the buzz on the circuit? Forget the usual spiel on exercising more and eating right. Stone will tell you to set those two aside for now, because that isn't where it's at.

Her business, Tiffany Stone Integrative Health, approaches health from a much broader scope.

"The integrative health approach is more than the two dimensions of nutrition and exercise," she says. "It's a lifestyle approach that includes emotional, psychological and spiritual factors too."

Stone works with clients on things like chronic conditions and stress management, and offers them support through transitions like grief, divorce, end of life assistance, relocation and retirement.

"I can't sit down and talk about broccoli and apples when there's something much bigger going on, like a divorce," she says. "It's those things that motivate behavior. You have to come from that space first."

Stone has been in the health field for 13 years and credits her growth to the power of what a physical transformation looks and feels like.

"Luckily I'm in a career with very tangible results," she says. "When people see someone go through a radical change, they want to know more. On the flip side, people who feel good physically want to go out into the world and give that to others, to share it."

The Internet and the proliferation of health magazines like Shape have changed the face of personal training, according to Stone.

"This isn't about how much water you have to drink," she says. "I'm not here to regurgitate information you can find anywhere. Instead I like to work inside a person's experience, how they respond to things and work from their emotional experience."

One of the most common problems she sees is that people design a life that is inflexible, one where the "shoulds" and "have tos" are setting the pace.

"People take on a lot and do whatever needs to be done to build a career," she says. "I look at their schedule and ask, how would you even do it inside this lifestyle? At 3 a.m.? And how's that going to feel?"

Stone helps her clients step back and reconsider what they are doing with their time. She offers an objective point of view. Something, she says, that can be hard to do on your own.

"People think their life is how it is and how it has to be," she says. "They think I can't not be at work at 7 a.m. But I put words to that idea, I ask What if? My job is unwiring their thinking patterns and asking what is really true."

This trend has spurred an offshoot to Stone's business. She is currently developing a corporate wellness program. She hopes to bring the integrative health approach to businesses and schools where people can reach their fitness goals inside the confines of their workaday lifestyle.

"Employers often look at a wellness program as a way to save time and productivity lost due to illness," Stone says. "But I look at it as a quality-of-life experience. We spend more time with coworkers than our family. It can be an uplifting and supportive community, where everyone is creating optimal health, where there's a gym on site and no cupcakes in the break room, where the energy is up and the support is there to do it together."

Stone, whose background also includes being a nutritional counselor and R.N., offers training in-home, in businesses, gyms and her private office.

"It's not knowing what to do, it's doing it!" she says. "You have to find the way to create joy and feel good." BN