Mollie Ponce

FP Practitioner HF1

I realize that I’ve been passionate about biomechanics for a very long time.

 For 28 years, I operated and managed our family-owned Martial Arts studio. During this time I developed a true passion for teaching, developing curriculum, and dissecting and improving self-defense techniques to make them more functional.  My main goal was to inspire our students to be confident leaders by exemplifying self-discipline, honor, focus and respect. 

My martial arts journey began in 1995, when I started training under my father. In 1997 I earned my 1st Black Belt and continued this journey all the way to my 5th Black Belt in 2013. After earning my first Black Belt I took a liking to competitive sparring and we soon developed a team of fighters who enjoyed competing and traveling all over the U.S., attending NBL and AMAPA Tournaments. After two years of intense competition, I earned the AMAPA Women’s Grand Champion. I then went on to earn my 2nd degree in 2000 and 3rd degree 2004.

During these years of training and competing, my lower back and hips were aching and sore most of the time.  At the time I was conditioned to think that this was normal, and to just deal with the pain, pop a pill, stay strong, and push through. To help alleviate my pain I would continue to stretch, but not just passively stretch.  I would use a stretching machine commonly used in the martial arts world to force a full side and front-split in order to gain kick-height.  I would also see a chiropractor two to three times per week, which helped momentarily, but the same pain and discomfort would always return by the next day. Over-the-counter pain medication became my best friend and I continued down that rabbit hole from the time I was 13 years old, into my late 20’s, not knowing that I was wrecking my gut and setting myself up for other injuries. I also allowed myself to get out of shape, yet continued to do the same aerial movements that I had always done. 

One particular evening changed my life forever, and started my journey to where I am today. I did a 360 jump spin and didn’t feel anything unusual until I sat down later that evening. When I tried to get up, there was an electric shock that went up and down my spine, leaving me breathless. I was in so much pain that I could barely stand up, and when I did I had to get up like a woman that was 9 months pregnant or the pain would shoot up my spine. This pain went on for five weeks!  The chiropractor was afraid to work on me.  Kaiser Hospital wasn’t sure why I was in so much pain because “it was just a little bulge in my disk.”  After week three I started to feel a tiny bit better but then re-injured myself and went back to square one. I finally went to a massage therapist who was very gentle and kind but left me on the table in one spot for far too long. At the end of the massage I couldn’t even bend over to get myself dressed and had to ask for help. That was my breaking point. I had been an athlete for so long and thought I was doing everything right, so this was scary and frustrating, and I felt like we had tried everything to get me “back on track.” 

The following week I was referred to Luis Ponce Sr. at Mind Body Motion, where I was educated and guided to make some life-altering changes. Sr. not only helped alleviate my pain with body-work but he guided me through a functional exercise program designed to increase spine stability and strengthen my core muscles. He also taught me how to reduce inflammation through nutrition, hydration, and whole food herbal supplementation. His approach was unlike anything that I had ever experienced, and I knew in my heart that I was on the right path to a healthier lifestyle. 

This experience was definitely humbling in many ways. I had considered myself to be on the healthier side (Subway is healthier than McDonalds, right?!).  I realized that everything that I had once thought was healthy and correct in working out was definitely not the most optimal way. Through this journey I acquired  knowledge that inspired me to want to learn more, get my health back, and inspire others to do the same. As a result, I was also able to get through my 4th degree test in 2010 without severe pain. Although I was in much less pain, I still experienced minor flare ups which reduced my confidence in my body’s ability to kick high and execute aerial kicks without re-injuring myself. 

From that moment on, I was highly motivated to incorporate functional movements into our martial arts curriculum, in the hope to reduce the rate of injuries and get our students stronger. I gradually enhanced our warmups by slowly eliminating traditional exercises, started a fitness class, and inserted nutritional pieces into our fitness camps. In short order I witnessed some amazing results in my student’s health, biomechanics and performance, which quickly enhanced my passion for this path.

As my healing stages continued I developed a greater bond with the MBM Team and in 2010 met my now-husband Luis Ponce Jr., who at the time was also working at MBM. A big part of why I was drawn to him was his passion and drive to learn and figure things out for himself. At the time I thought he was amazing at getting people out of pain but his desire to want even better results unfolded over the years.

In 2013 we found out that we would be welcoming a baby boy to our family. I was so grateful to have a fairly smooth pregnancy as far as back pain goes, but after pregnancy was a different story. Along with the emotional aspect, I again felt very unstable throughout my lower back and hips. I remember walking up a hill and feeling like my hips were going to break. Nine months later I took the opportunity to test for my 5th degree black belt but even though it was a wonderful experience with my partner, I was nervous the entire time that I would re-injure myself. 

Fast forward to 2016. My husband became “entry level certified” with Functional Patterns, an exercise system catering specifically to our genetic traits. He was very impressed by the concept and application of the techniques. At that time, he was experiencing chronic low back pain of his own. He was excited but also humbled by the experience during his time at the FP course. The results he felt after leaving the course had such a profound effect on him that he transitioned his training approach to 100% FP. 

In 2019 we decided to open Functional Patterns South Bay, and I am honored to represent this revolutionary exercise system created by Naudi Aguilar. I continue to be educated and humbled as I continue to travel down the rabbit hole of correcting my deeply ingrained biomechanical dysfunctions. I have learned that there is no quick fix to the traumas our bodies incur over the years from childhood through to old age. It is a process that requires a patient mindset and one with foresight. Day by day I continue to chip away and unravel soft tissue distortions that allow me to move, strengthen and stabilize in ways I never thought I could. 

Recently I decided to switch careers and not take over our family martial arts studio, so that I can devote 100% of my career to our clients at FP South Bay.

 My objective is to continue to educate and inspire through my experiences, lead by example, and help others to improve their biomechanics and move pain-free.