I have been seeing Tom consistently since 1994. I find his work and guidance essential to my well-being.
Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Restaurant
I could use a cliché and say Tom has "magic hands" – but his fingers are more like a CAT scan. He finds the tension, the sore nodes and the spots that need attention, which he then stretches, kneads and massages out. Each visit is different, zeroing in on the most needed areas.
After a series of devastating back and neck operations, 30 years ago in my forties, I sought rehabilitative consultation with Tom Stifler. Because of somatic stretching and my work with Tom on the table, I am upright and still active throughout all these years.
Fred J. Miller MD
I took Tom's Somatic exercise classes more than 10 years ago, and I have been seeing him as a massage therapist ever since. He provides the most thorough, effective and targeted massage I have ever had. Personally, I want a bodyworker who wakes up singing! After each massage with Tom, not only are my muscles relaxed and my body more balanced, my spirit is lifted as well. It's a two-for-one every time!
Tom Stifler has been my bodyworker since 1995, and I have to say he has changed my life. Not only is his table work wonderfully effective, he has taught me somatic exercises which I have been doing on a daily basis for nearly 20 years. I am so thankful to him for helping me gain and keep a healthy body and spirit!
Chris Grampp, Oakland
As a father in my 40s, with two active young kids, I didn't realize how compromised the quality of my life was with my children until I started working with Tom. Through a combination of bodywork and somatic exercises, not only am I no longer in pain, but I'm able to play freely with my children, which is the greatest gift I could have.
Will Tams, Invisible Spark graphic design studio
Almost 10 years ago, I was suffering from intense backaches where I could not even sit for a few minutes without considerable discomfort. It seemed like I'd tried everything over the years to alleviate the pain, including extensive physical therapy. One life-changing day, someone asked me if I had tried somatic exercises and gave me Tom's phone number. Within a month of doing the exercises, I felt a reduction in pain. After a few months, the pain was totally gone! It felt like a miracle! He now has a DVD that I follow along most very day.
I knew that Tom also did bodywork, and I was thrilled when I began having consistent appointments with him. I have had massages all over the world, and none compare to his. With Tom's grounding energy, I leave his table with a completely new body, with my spine aligned and a feeling of joy!
Needless to say, Tom has changed my life by helping me to have a body free of pain. I took 13 trips last year, most of them cross country or overseas, and occasionally, I may get stiff muscles from sitting for long periods, but not the back pain. This kind of life wouldn't have been possible without Tom's exercises and bodywork! I am forever grateful to him.
The first time I sought help from Tom was because of shoulder and leg pain. I'm a composer and often sit for long hours at the piano and the computer. The pain was chronic, and I had grudgingly accepted this as the new normal. I began doing the Somatic exercises for 20 to 30 minutes every night before bed. I worked with the video at first, and soon had the sequence memorized so that I could do them on my own. My leg pain literally vanished after about a week of doing exercises! The shoulder was much more stubborn, so I made a follow up appointment with Tom. I'm very glad I did. He not only helped me get more from the exercises I was doing, but he helped me to understand the shoulder and the way in which this complex joint may have become injured. It has been some work, but I'm happy to report that it is now pain-free – no steroids and no costly and invasive "procedures".
These days, the exercises have become like a wonderful evening ritual for me. I take my time with the movements and find the experience to be an almost meditative unwinding from the day. I fall asleep faster, and sleep sounder as a result. I honestly look forward to doing them, which is very different than most exercises I have done! We put our bodies through a lot in these modern times, and I am empowered knowing that I will always have these exercises to keep my body flexible and pain-free. I am ever grateful for Tom and the Somatic exercises. What a gift!
Tom is my well-being touchstone. About four years ago, after driving many hours, I got out of the car, and could barely stand up. My cousin had planted the seed about how helpful Tom's Somatic exercise class was for back pain. I called for a one-on-one consultation; took Tom's classes, and learned, through a series of simple of movements, how to mitigate pain by increasing flexibility in the body. Now, Tom is part of my routine. Each time I see him I receive a nugget of healthy truth delivered with skill and humor.
In 2003 I completed a triathlon on Treasure Island, and the next morning I woke up with a screaming pain from my neck, across my shoulder, and all the way down my right arm. I was in unrelenting pain for six weeks. I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, and told I might have to have my vertebrae fused in order to find relief. Instead, I went to an acupuncturist, and after a few weeks I started to feel some relief. However, she recommended that I take Tom's Somatic Exercise class, and told me I wouldn't need her anymore if I did. I followed her advice and took the class. When I started I could not lay on my back without significant pain and electric buzzing down my arm. When I finished, and as I followed the exercise program and bodywork with Tom in the years to come, I have been pain-free. I completed an Olympic length triathlon this year and I'm training for a 70.3 Ironman next year. This is as close to a miracle as I have experienced in my life!
Since the advent of Tom, I can now sit for hours on plane flights and through boring musical performances without pain. I have often, especially after a particularly egregious long-winded improv concert where the audience is relegated to metal folding chairs, sent him an email, thanking him profusely for my new found body awareness.
After learning how to do somatic exercises with Tom, my body, especially my hamstrings and lower back, are stronger and more flexible today at 50 than when I was 40. It took me a long time to realize that I needed something like this, and now I can't live without it. It's the most important part of my exercise routine.
David Grant D.V.M.