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Press Articles


 (Evening Advertiser 6th April 1994)

Julie Nicholls knows all about the stresses and strains of running a business.
Her business is to help others overcome these problems. Called Natural Therapy,
the potential of her firm has already been recognised by Livewire, the business organisation
for young people sponsored by Shell. Livewire has presented Julie, 25, with an award for the
best new business in North Wiltshire.

Julie, a registered general nurse launched the business last autumn under the wing of Great
Western enterprise- the Swindon-based small business help organisation.
She saw a gap in the market for remedial massage and realised many people
needed help overcoming the pressures of modern business life, from stress to
repetitive strain injury. So far she has worked mainly on an individual basis but
hopes soon to sign up with local firms to help employees. She is also going to
work soon from the chiropractic clinic in Swindon Road, Stratton St. Margaret soon.

Belgian-born Julie had to submit her business plan to the Livewire judges before being
entered for the award. Remedial Massage, she says, has long been ignored as a way
of relieving stress and helping conditions such as arthritis and back pain- as well as relaxing
stressed-out business people.

Anyone wishing to find out more can contact Julie on 01793 495551
(Evening Advertiser 10-2-95)

Natural therapist Julie Nicholls has come up with an alternative gift for Valentines day,
guaranteed to relax the most stressed-out person.

Julie has teamed-up with Swindon-based graphic design firm The Drawing Room, to produce
gift vouchers which can be used for Remedial Massage to treat arthritis, back pain,
sport injuries, repetitive strain injuries or stress. The vouchers, priced £17, are for sale in
Holland & Barrett, Pulse and the Swindon Chiropractic Clinic, in Stratton St Margaret.

They can be exchanged for a one-hour treatment and Julie, a former registered general nurse,
who has worked in Swindon for two years, believes they are a good introduction to
Natural Therapy. “I’ve treated people aged between 19 and 85 and it is really beneficial,”
said Julie, who works from the Chiropractic Clinic and from home. “I’m launching these in
time for Valentines day because what could be more beneficial than helping someone get
rid of their tension.”

She approached Alan Read and Charlotte Devulder who run The Drawing Room and asked
them to design some cards. They came up with a number of ideas from which she chose
six designs.
(Swindon Business - business news - July 1996)

Enterprising Julie Nicholls is well on the way to achieving her goal in life.

This 28-year old has already made her mark on the business world by being the North
Wiltshire winner of the 1994 Live-Wire Business Start-Up Awards and more recently a
finalist in the Wiltshire Business of the Year awards organised by the Evening Advertiser.

Julie set up and runs the Natural Therapy Centre at the Bentley Centre, Stratton Road,

She is qualified in remedial massage, which is recognised to help back and sciatic pain,
arthritis, sport injuries and stress. Julie is also a qualified nurse but decided that working
in the health service was not for her because she wanted her own business.

She began working for herself at the Chiropractic Clinic in Swindon ,before last year
moving into the Bentley Centre and finding 12 other alternative therapists to
join her. Now, she alone has a 135-strong client list which is growing all the time.

She said: “My long term ambition is to find suitable premises that can be turned into a
devoted centre for alternative therapies. We have just completed our first year here and the
best thing that has happened is that we are now becoming known. My aim is to win
a new client every week and so far I have managed to achieve that.”

The two therapy rooms that Julie rents at The Bentley Centre are shared between
all the therapists who have been allocated time slots to use them.

Julie is keen to develop her business with companies in Swindon by taking the
Centre’s services to them, instead of the client coming to the centre. She also
offers clients a mail order service for orthopaedic aids, herbal products and food
supplements as well as gift vouchers for any of the therapies available.

Trager Approach techniques used today were created and developed over a period of
65 years by Milton Trager, who himself continued practising until he was 89.

They combine gentle, relaxing manipulation called tablework, with self-care exercises
called Mentastics. In tablework the person receiving the treatment lies comfortably on a
special padded table wearing loose clothes.

Each person brings with them an individual history. Their body is unique.The qualified Trager
practitioner is aware of this and will treat a person according to what they find. Using graceful
and gentle manipulation of limbs and joints the practitioner works through natural paths of

No attempt is made to put strain or fore on the receiver's body and the movements induce
deep relaxation, increased physical mobility and mental clarity.

The aim of the tablework session is to promote a state of mental and physical well-being
in the person receiving the treatment by releasing built up patterns
of tension in the joints and muscles of the body.
 (Evening Advertiser Health Matters).

Mental Gymnastics promotes good health Singers Neil Sedaka and Linda Ronstadt have

more than finely tuned voices in common. Their bodies also sing from the same song sheet
thanks to a little know relaxation technique. The Trager Approach aims to relieve pain
by correcting he cause of problems, rather than treating the symptoms.

Therapist Julie Nicholls, who practises the technique at The Bentley Centre,
in Stratton Road, Swindon, helps her clients regain physical, mental and
emotional harmony. Neil Sedaka says in a testimonial on the Trager website:
“I am most enthusiastic about Mentastics , I am always left with a feeling of
lightness and freedom of movement.
” While Linda Ronstadt says: “Trager works is an invaluable aid for all singers.
It relaxes the throat muscles and positions the larynx for extended range
and better breath support. I rely on it.”

Whether you are trying to improve your karaoke skills or to alleviate aches and pains
the unusual technique is worth experiencing. There are two aspects of Trager- one where
the client is passive and the other in which they are active. The passive aspect is usually
referred to as the tablework, and the active aspect is called Mentastics.

The technique was the brainchild of Milton Trager, who, in spite of being born with a
congenital spinal deformity in Chicago 1908, achieved the athletic, graceful body of a
dancer and gymnast. He discovered the approach while he was training to be a boxer in
his late teens and began practising on thousands of people. It sounds strange that a
soft touch, almost like a stroking action, can ease back pain just as well as a good,
deep massage. But as Julie explained, the client has more to do in her sessions than
just lying back on the massage couch.

Julie, who trained as a nurse but became a Trager therapist nine years ago,
said: “Mentastics is like mental gymnastics and is an important part.
I ask the client to think of their pain, for example in their back, and recognise
the way it feels when there is no pain". It sounds simple but it really helps.
If the client can explain how it feels they are on the right track to
finding out the cause and correcting it.” After the Mentastics segment of the
treatment,  the client relaxes on the massage couch where Julie starts to work her
magic. It feels as though she is literally stroking away the pain, coaxing the body to
relax completely.

“Forget about no pain, no gain.” Julie said. “Trager is more about no pain, more gain.
We have to learn to take pauses in life. You can lose track of the goals
if you don’t take a step back every now and then. ” After one side of the body has
been worked on, Julie holdsup a mirror asking the client to see how they look.
It may seem odd, but when you know what she is talking about you realise that
the relaxed side is visibly lengthened, as though the bones and muscles are able to
breathe again. After the session, which costs £20 per half an hour, you are left with
an almost floating feeling- and seemingly about three inches taller.

For more information call Julie on 01793 495551

(Evening Advertiser Tuesday 28th July 1998)

Gentle Legacy of a Boxing Doctor

In 1925 a young boxer began developing a more gentle massage system.

SHIRLEY MATHIAS meets one of the UK’s 14 practitioners: -

It’s called “psychophysical integration” and it
was devised by a Chicago boxer who later
became a doctor.

Former nurse Julie Nicholls, of the Natural Therapy Centre in Shrivenham Road, Swindon,
is one of only
14 people in Britain who are qualified to do it professionally. Actually it’s muscle
movement and hands-on therapy named after Dr Milton Trager, who discovered it by accident
and intuition when he was
an 18-year-old fighter in training to be a professional in the ring. 

Dr. Trager, who spent most of his life developing and teaching his touch therapy alongside
this medical practice, died a year ago at the age of 90. His system uses light, rhythmical
hand contact and gentle manipulation instead of the heavy pressure of other massage
systems. The aim is to influence and
interrupt deep-seated psychological and emotional
patterns which can cause bad posture, distortion of muscles and joints and eventually
physical pain.
The therapy also improves posture.

Julie, 30, is planning a series of introductory and training courses to introduce the unique
therapy to Swindon people. She has helped to sort out
everything from bad backs and bad
temper. She
hopes other people will be interested in becoming Trager practitioners.
 Julie is the only one in Wiltshire,  “and there’s more work in this area than I can do,”
she said. Julie, who was born in Belgium and has worked in Switzerland, came to
Swindon five years
ago to be with her boyfriend Chris Brown, who is now her husband.
Treatment sessions last for at least 90 minutes. Her first introduction to Trager course
is on Saturday, from 9.30am until 5pm.

More information from Julie Nicholls, Natural Therapy Centre, The Bentley Centre,
Stratton Road, Swindon (01793 495551)
or visit


The Trager system aims to release tight muscles, locked joints and even taut emotions
by manipulating the body within a pain-free range of movement. No massage oils are used
and the client doesn’t even
need to undress completely. Besides the gentle massage,
clients are taught Mentastics – Trager’s
word for mental gymnastics, a system of
effortless movement sequences designed to maintain and enhance the improvements
which are produced on
the massage table.   “It’s more of a lesson than a treatment,”
said Julie. “Pain is the last symptom
which appears and the first to disappear. 
You might well be left with injured muscles, even though you
aren’t feeling any
more pain, so it is important to know how to maintain the benefits of the treatment.”

(Evening advertiser August 2002)

Shape Up Without the Strain

While many of us risk strains or even pulled muscles with punishing sessions in the gym,
there is a therapy in Swindon that offers increased physical and mental well-being without
the burn. Trager and Mentastics are innovative therapies, originally from America, which
combine gentle relaxing manipulation of the body-Trager, with self-care mental

Key benefits of Trager and Mentastics include reduced stress and anxiety, increased
suppleness, deep relaxation, increased energy levels and recovery from injury. Students
of the therapies and people just wishing to find out more about them gathered at Lainsmead
Primary School in Eastern Avenue for a day-long workshop, organised by local Swindon
therapist Julie Nicholls, 34.

The workshop was led by the Austrian Trager and Mentastics instructor Hadi Stieg-Breuss,
who helped the students explore movements of their arms, hands, back and heads.
Ms. Nicholls, who practises as a therapist in the Bentley Centre in Stratton Road,
said the workshop was a success.

“I’ve run several of these workshops since 1997. They’re a lot of fun, very relaxing and people who
have not done Trager or Mentatics before, say that
the day really puts them in contact with their bodies.

“Trager and Mentastics look at the individual’s body,” she continues, “If the person is suffering
any pain, it seeks to help them change the ways in which their bodies work for them. It’s about
moving so you feel effortless.

“The principles of Trager study weight, space, breathing, pauses and movement. It’s about
how to get into positions without having to force them. If a person has pain, they hold on to
that muscle, tense it, stress about it, even get depressed and that pain can rule their lives.

“We help them to look at what’s happening in their bodies and ways in which moving
differently may help - if you move more freely, life can feel wonderful. Julie plans to hold
another workshop in November and would like to hear from anyone who would like
to take part. The session will be open to everyone, children included, although they
must be old enough to follow movement directions.

For more information contact Julie on 01793 495551

 (Evening Advertiser 1st August 2006)

No Need To Suffer

Do you put up with pain because you think it’s just part of life? There is an alternative,
reports Graham Carter. Have you heard the one about the 90 year old woman who went to the
doctor’s complaining of a sore knee.

The doctor told her that it was only expected that such an old lady should have aches and pains.
“Well, that can’t be right,” said the old lady. “because I’ve had my other knee 90 years as well
- and that’s perfectly all right.”

Julie Nicholls doesn’t tell her clients this story to get a laugh. She tells them to make a point
about the alternative treatments she offers which go under the umbrella of ‘Natural Therapy.’ 
And the message is that you don’t have to suffer. Julie says that many of the problems people
have are a result of stress, or something that has occurred in their past - what you call a hang-up.
And this can manifest itself in may different ways, from seemingly unconnected niggly ailments
to major emotional and psychological problems.

But Natural Therapy is all about treating causes, not symptoms. Take neck and shoulders.
“People think it’s only natural that the stress they have ends up in their neck and shoulders,”
said Julie. “If you look at people, you can often see them walking about, all hunched up as
if they are carrying burden of their problems on their shoulders.

“But if you relax your shoulders and raise your head, it’s possible to make the stress slip
away and disappear. “It’s wrong to think that it has to end up somewhere in your body.”
Julie’s therapy is based on the technique she trained in originally, called Trager, although
she has now added various other strings to her bow by applying what she has learned from
treating people with more complex problems, such as post traumatic stress disorder.

Listening skills, a common sense approach and a gift for ‘reading’ her clients’ situations
are just as important. Other techniques she can use include Eye Movement
Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), in which clients follow the movement
of her fingers with their eyes. This is believed to help by alternatively engaging the
left and right sides of the brain.

All these approaches are straightforward and stress-free but the main thing
they have in common is they turn the idea of ‘no pain, no gain’ completely
on its head. They tackle problems not by meeting them head-on in an unpleasant
way but by extracting positives and building on them.

Expect an ultimately enjoyable experience. Whether you are trying to address
a physical or emotional problem, the treatment often involves gentle manipulation
of joints and muscles.

Julie holds a limb, tells the patient to let her take the weight, and encourages them
to relax. This seems easy. but Julie is extremely adept at ’reading’ your level of
relaxation-and just when you think you’ve “let go” she shows you that you haven’t.
Eventually, by making you more and more relaxed, you reach a feeling of much
greater calm.

After this the trick is to “capture” this feeling Julie trains her clients to reproduce it at will,
although it may take some practice and might require a few sessions. The technique can
even be used for people who are faced with specific problems, such as job interviews or
having to make a speech.

In the end, Julie’s approach succeeds because it addresses situations, sympathetically,
practically and logically. without requiring that leap of faith that is necessary in other
‘alternative’ therapies. Natural Therapy can take the weight off your shoulders - and in
more ways than one.

To find out more phone Julie Nicholls on 01793 495551or visit



Julie Nicholls


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