Laura Khoudari comes across as a richly generous person, that much is certain. Generous in how she tirelessly lays out the value of workouts and the effects they conjure in unsparing but never overwhelming detail, and generous in how she centers all of these how-tos and instructional measures within a narrative-like prose that is based upon her own evolution from trauma to recovery. It’s this personalized touch that makes her new book, Lifting Heavy Things: Healing Trauma One Rep at a Time, affecting on so many distinctive levels.


There’s a sense of vulnerable creative expression in her literary abilities as much as there is a reassuringly left hemisphered, tactical step-by-step quality to how each workout regimen is introduced, and how the book’s content as a whole is divided into three distinctive parts – christened Conditions, Activation, and Recovery. In the foreword of the book, Khoudari writes about the origins of her profession and as a result her professionally-based convictions both inside and outside of the studio. But then she devotes essentially a second foreword to speak about something much deeper, and in some ways a little darker than one would expect. In a passage entitled My Trauma Story That I Will Never Tell, she talks about her own personalized challenges with its effects without ever divulging any actual details.

This also serves as something of an assurance with respect to her sharing personalized stories about some of her clientele, under pseudonyms and only out of respect for the triumphs they have had in their own personal and respective journeys to healing. “This book is, in part, an ode to feeling safe in our bodies and in the world,” Khoudari outlines. “It is also a rallying cry for us to respect one another’s humanity, agency, dignity…”

In the spirit of what she writes at the beginning of Lifting Heavy Things, Khoudari subsequently breaks the entirety of her philosophy down without sacrificing any crucial microcosms or core details. The first part of the book, Conditions, primarily focuses on the basics. Specifically facts and observations about one’s relationship with their own body, shifting aspects of said relationship that aren’t working, examining one’s ‘workout baggage’ (i.e. physical aspects of one’s self that have in the past been the cause of personal concern and/or dislike), and finally tactics for ‘orienting’ one’s workout routine and the space in which they choose to perform such physical and physiologically affecting specificities.


The second part, Activation, focuses on the more interpersonal and internal aspects of trauma and distress on the body – particularly the complications that arise from holding conflicting feelings within one’s center for an extended period of time. The third and final part of the book, Recovery, is arguably all about the aftermath. Specifically speaking, the aftermath of one implementing said physical activities into one’s schedule, and how then it may be time to mend personal relationships and certain aspects of one’s immediate environment and world outside of themselves. One of the most evocative parts of this increment is the title of the fourteenth and final chapter of the book, which MLA thesis-style sums up the entirety of its content. It is, What Moves You?

Whether you are someone suffering from acute trauma and/or someone looking for a meaningful and personalized exercise routine, there’s something for everyone in Khoudari’s new book. Do yourself a favor – check it out.

Garth Thomas