Health and life coach Ewa Burak
By Lindsay Hogeboom
“In 1989, Ewa and The Rhythm Hot Shots formed the Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden, the biggest swing dance festival in the world, where they taught, and continue to teach today, swing dances, including Lindy Hop…” states an August 2019 Warrenton Lifestyle article. The Lindy Hop, a dance that almost became obsolete, was revived thanks in large part to Ewa Burak — Sweden native and Orlean resident — who, with guidance and support from elderly swing dancers such as Lindy Hop ambassador Frankie Manning, was instrumental in creating a resurgence of interest in the dance. Many people would agree that Ewa’s accomplishments to date are enough to celebrate for a lifetime. However, for Ewa, her past endeavors have led to the start of an entirely new undertaking — one as a health and life coach.
“I have always been a coach, so it was kind of [a] natural [transition],” says Ewa. Prior to her career in dance, she was a gymnast — both roles that each embody a spirit of holistic wellness by encouraging physical health and dexterity, as well as the mental fortitude to push limits and tackle new challenges. As a dance instructor and gymnastics coach, these were values Ewa imparted on her students. “As I was invited to teach dance, I often found opportunities off of the dance floor to help and coach the organizers beyond where they were, so [health coaching] fell into my lap a little bit,” she says.
As COVID-19 brought many aspects of our lives — including in-person interactions — to a halt, Ewa considered beginning a new venture as a health and life coach, and thought, “maybe this is the time.” Not only did she now have more time to invest and more ways to connect due to the swift transition to virtual communication, but also, she felt that “with so much uncertainty and so many struggles, people might need coaching now more than ever.”
Fast forward to today, and Ewa is now a certified health and life coach, helping others navigate through psychological roadblocks and assisting with nutrition and other health concerns to help clients reach their goals and become the best version of themselves — physically, mentally, and spiritually. She earned her dual certification through The Health Coach Institute via its online program that includes training on behavioral psychology, neuroscience, intuitive listening, habit change, and healthy lifestyle design, according to the institute’s website (healthcoachinstitute.com). “This past year, the situation in the world has surely served as a sober reminder about just how important overall health is and to support our immune system to do its job,” she says. “When we take care of our body and mind, the body takes care of us.”
Ewa goes on to explain, “Health coaching is very much about habit change. It’s about all aspects of life, really — taking small shifts to find out what makes the difference to move forward in a more desired direction.” She also states that the job of a health and life coach is to help clients reframe the conversations they are having with themselves to come from a place of optimistic curiosity rather than self-doubt. “Instead of coming down on ourselves, we can be curious and think, ‘Huh, that’s interesting. I wonder what I can do instead to get options,’” she says. “And, to find power in [knowing], ‘I actually have a choice here. This is not the only way.’ Then you feel empowered [to] make the small shifts.”
For new clients, Ewa brings them through a 90-day program during which they meet for an hour once a week. Each session begins with celebrating what went well during the past week, followed by a discussion about what didn’t go so well. “The listening part is so powerful,” says Ewa. “When people feel safe and seen and heard, they take their time to also hear themselves [and] listen to their inner voice that we often forget how to listen to, trust and take seriously.” Prior to ending the meeting, Ewa gives the client an action step to work on during the upcoming week that serves to bring them one step closer to their goal.
Ewa stresses the importance of taking the time for this type of introspection, stating, “Self-care is not selfish. When you’re connected to you and your truth, then you’re connected to the world. Then, we are our best selves so we can go out and connect with what’s around us and make a difference in our small groups and in our family, in our community, and the world at large — and everyone is going to gain from it.”
Being on the leading side of these conversations, Ewa says she’s careful to always remember that the goal is not to provide answers, but rather for her clients to make progress by working through mental barriers. “In my eagerness to help it can sometimes be challenging to not follow the urge to quickly present a solution, but rather step back, stay curious, keep digging, and find the right questions that help to uncover what’s true for my client, which will let the right path forward present itself.”
“I think my strength is that I really believe in people,” says Ewa. “As a coach, I really hold that space for them. It’s like, ‘You might not believe in yourself yet, but I know you’re capable,’ and people get fuel from that.” Ultimately, she says, “Despite all our struggles we have to face and overcome, I choose to believe it’s a kind world,” and “I love to be a lighthouse for hope and possibility.”