Laura Khoudari
Trauma-Informed Strength Coach

What is Trauma

  1. Defined

Trauma is an often misunderstood concept. One common misconception is that trauma only refers to a physical trauma such as a gunshot wound, or concussion. Another common misconception is that only something truly catastrophic, such as a natural disaster or a war, can be a trauma. This view of trauma is narrow and inadequate. A trauma is anything your brain perceives as life threatening or completely overwhelming.

Some examples of potential traumas are natural disasters, assaults, rape, prolonged emotional neglect, abuse, car accidents, surgeries, injuries, loss of a loved one, and combat service. As Peter Levine notes in many of his books, even falling off a bike and skinning your knee can be traumatic to a child.

It is important to remember that each person and their circumstances are different. The circumstances before and after a potentially traumatizing event are factors in whether on not you will experience something potentially traumatizing as a trauma. This is why we aren’t all walking around in a traumatized state all of the time.

2. Symptoms

There are many possible symptoms. They start from the brain and the nervous system and work their way down into the body in symptoms that can be seen as physiological AND emotional.

      • Hyperarousal - anxiety, insomnia, jumpiness, avoidance behaviors, more easily overstimulated
      • Hypoarousal - depressive behaviors, loss of interest in things previously life affirming, guilt, loneliness, dissociation
      • Collapse -  physical immobilization, numbness
      • Chronic pain - All of the above are physiological and will affect posture, muscles, and fascia and therefore the kinetic chain

It is important to remember traumas big and small can have physiological ramifications. Sometimes these physiological ramifications lead to actual injury and chronic pain.

Here is the upside though. There are many different ways to treat trauma. Combining treatments such as conventional talk therapy, with a somatic practice to work with physiological trauma symptoms from the body is a powerful combination.


Strength Training as Self Care

PTSD conditions can make the limbic system overactive and can affect posture and proprioception. Strength training can help, when approached in a trauma-informed manner, and in a supportive environment. Additionally, smart, safe, and supportive strength training can

    1. Restore a lost sense of resilience
    2. Reopen the window of tolerance for nervous system activation
    3. Provide a community to an individual who may be feeling isolated
    4. Provide a truly healthy (not self-indulgent) means of self-care


What I Offer

Training for women living with PTSD, anxiety, depression, or chronic pain who want to get strong supervised by someone that understands how mental health can affect performance. 

Clients can expect to work with me twice a week for an hour-long session. Each workout will be designed with knowledge of how living with trauma, anxiety, depression, or chronic pain can affect the nervous system outside of the gym and therefore on any given workout.

Clients will not be required to share personal information (past or present) that they are not comfortable sharing. While information about health history is helpful in designing an effective training program no one has to share anything they do not feel comfortable sharing. Setting boundaries and adhering to them is crucial to healing from trauma and that always comes first.


Why I do what I do

I have firsthand experience seeing the affect of trauma on women whether it be in the gym or in their lives. Also I am living with PTSD. In the winter of 2014-2015 I designed a holistic program to move my treatment forward when I began to struggle with chronic pain, injury cycle, and other physiological symptoms of trauma. Rather than use strength training to hide from my pain and fear, I trained in a way that accounted for how trauma impacted my posture, proprioception, nervous system, and mindset. I knew this would make me feel better on a daily basis.

This approach didn't just make me feel better. Along with traditional talk therapy, it helped me to restore balance to my nervous system, allowed me to reconnect with others, and enabled me to safely experience how resilient I am. This created a positive feedback loop and broke me out of my injury cycle.

As I pieced together a program suitable for me, I found that practitioners who worked with the body (doctors, massage therapists, meditation teachers, and PTs) often did not fully understand how trauma impacted their clients. But a handful were willing to learn alongside me. I read quite a bit on my own and then began to seek out teachers, trainings, and certifications on somatic approaches to healing trauma. I kept applying what I was learning and I did not just feel better, I thrived.

Helping myself was not enough for me. I was frustrated that there was not enough trauma-informed coaching out there. I decided to solve this problem by taking action and becoming a trauma-informed strength coach.

In 2018, Laura will be offering sliding-scale training through the WSC.

About Laura Khoudari



My mission is to increase access to somatic-based treatment for women and genderqueer individuals living with trauma, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, in order to help them restore a healthy nervous system, get in touch with their innate resilience, restore their quality of life, and begin to thrive.

Laura Khoudari has a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College and her MPA with a focus on Nonprofit Management from American University. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and an Assistant Strength Coach at JDI Barbell in Long Island City. Her additional certifications and courses include:

  • American Red Cross Certified CPR and AED
  • JDI Barbell Internship Program
  • Movement For Trauma 1 and 2 - Jane Clapp
  • Pelvic Floor and Core - Susi Hately at Functional Synergy
  • Professional Somatic Experiencing Training and Certification (in progress) Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute
  • Resilient Movement Foundations - Resilient Performance Physical Therapy
  • Sound Body - Sound Mind - Tony Gentilcore and Lisa Lewis
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