Meet Marie Heintges, a location-independent online coach focusing on body awareness and living in Bali. Welcome to “Life by design”. This Discovery Sessions interview series probes prominent voices for their life design, entrepreneurship and travel ideas to inspire readers just like you.
Rosie Bell: Where are you from or where do you feel local to?
Marie Heintges: Germany is where I was born, where I grew up and where I lived until my late 20’s. Now I live in Bali for most of the year which really much feels like home to me.
Honestly, it’s hard to tell which country I feel more local to at the moment. Germany is where I have my roots and my family whereas Bali is where my heart is. I’d say it’s the place that I belong to right now.
RB: How did you become an online body awareness coach?
MH: Ironically, I found my passion, my purpose, and what I do now through my own suffering from chronic back pain and stress a few years ago. Back then, I was living the corporate ‘9-5’ life in Germany.
I was caught in a life that I thought was meant to be for me. I was living a fast-paced urban life, working an office job that didn’t fulfil me, buying into a lifestyle that I thought would make me happy and I lost sight of my own health and well-being.
For many years, I ignored the signs that my body was giving me because I wanted to function and become what I thought was being successful. That’s why I also started studying in the evening alongside my full-time job which gave me even less time to rest and take care of myself.
After carrying on that way for a few years, I felt energy-depleted and tension had built up everywhere in my body. I had back pain every single day and I had the first signs of burnout.
That’s when I told myself I had to stop and that something needed to change. I got obsessed with holistic ways of healing, learning about the body and about the root causes why we develop pain, tension, chronic stress and disease – and how to reverse them.
I found healing modalities like hands-on bodywork, body-oriented trauma work and the approaches of ancient Chinese medicine that truly resonated with me. I felt such a strong passion for these methods and I knew that this was what I wanted to learn and offer to people in future.
Now I help people who suffer from chronic pain, stress and tension and show them how to let go of this and come back into their bodies so that they can move through life in a natural, relaxed and upright way while still feeling grounded and safe in themselves.
RB: What advice would you give someone looking to become an online body awareness coach?
MH: Know WHY you want to change then start with curiosity, openness and willpower so strong that nothing can hold you back.
To let go of the fear to get started with big changes, this little visualization helped me a lot: if you zoom out and look at earth from above, how tiny does everything look for you now from above? How important (or unimportant) do your everyday life routines and struggles now look for you?
Look at the big picture. We’re all on this planet together, and we have this one life and one chance to choose what we want to do with it. Either we can keep going and living a life that leaves us unfulfilled and unhappy, or we can take the leap and dare to try something new where there is a big chance that at least it won’t be worse than what we already do, and at best, it might be the best decision you ever took.
RB: What does a typical day in the life look like for you (if you have one)?
MH: The benefit of working remotely is that you are free to structure your day the way that works best for you. It took some time to figure out what that meant for me. As much as I love having the flexibility to design my days, I’ve realised how good it feels to have at least a little bit of structure each day.
I’m a big fan of morning routines. This sets a nice foundation for the rest of the day. I have yoga practice most mornings combined with a short meditation or breathwork. I also love journaling in the morning to keep track of things that are important to me, of what I’m grateful for and to set my goals for the day. In Bali, you can get all these fresh tropical fruits so I usually have a big colourful smoothie bowl for breakfast that I make at home or I get at one of the cafes around where I live.
On a typical day, work time is from 12 – 5 pm. I recently signed up to a coworking space because that’s where I get most of my work done. I used to work from cafes a lot because I love taking in all the positive vibes that those places have, but the busyness can be a great hindrance when it comes to focusing.
After a few years of working from my laptop, I learned that in order to be more productive – and also to maintain good posture while at my at desk – quiet places with ergonomic chairs are the work environments that work best for me now. Having client calls or shooting videos, that’s another thing, of course. That usually takes place at home or out in nature.
In Bali, a day just has to end with a coconut, the beach and meeting friends. Sunsets at the beach in Bali are stunning and this is where everybody meets. I’m grateful to have Bali as my new home. Cruising along the rice fields during the day with my scooter and having the wind blowing through my hair feels like freedom to me. This is where I feel truly alive and happy.
RB: What’s the biggest challenge of life as an online coach?
MH: I have to face a lot of my own fears and work on old patterns that don’t serve me anymore in order to grow both personally and in business. The journey never ends; it’s constant learning and challenging yourself in order to grow and thrive.
RB: What’s the biggest reward of life as an online coach?
MH: As a health coach and online entrepreneur, I have the freedom to create a life that is in line with my values, my passions and my deeper purpose. This means there are challenges involved, of course, but also fulfilment, deep gratitude and constant growth.
RB: How do you measure success?
MH: Success for me is when you’ve overcome a challenge, hindrance or fear and through that process, accomplished something that you’ve longed for; something that leaves you feeling fulfilled or satisfied.
RB: What habits, principles or ideas have served you the most in your life?
MH: To stay curious, to honour my softness, and to follow my intuition; my inner voice.
RB: What do you wish you did differently (in work or life)?
MH: Sometimes I forget about all I have achieved. I need to remind myself of these things when I judge myself and be kinder to myself. Other than that, there’s not much that I regret. Everything is a learning process and, in my opinion, you need to make your own mistakes and have your own personal struggles in order to learn and grow.
RB: Which adventure has had the greatest impact on you?
MH: After I quit my job back in 2016 I decided to travel to Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia – the countries that are located the farthest from my home country, Germany. From everything I witnessed, it’s hard to pick one single adventure because there were so many that had a huge impact on me.
Exploring the most breathtaking New Zealand nature with a campervan, swimming in a cave in the Philippines, camping on the beach on an Australian island, exploring the island of Bali on a scooter on my own, diving the Great Barrier Reef, delving deeper into different healing modalities, yoga and breathwork while in Bali, and most importantly, getting to know the world, the people in it, and myself better.
RB: Please share one of your most treasured travel memories.
MH: Everyone who has travelled before, knows there are many stunning places and amazing people that you meet along the road and that everything leaves an imprint on you. But for me, I was most touched by simple moments during my travels.
I was on a bus ride through Australia in 2016 looking out of the window seeing the landscapes passing by, and out of nowhere, tears ran down my face because I felt such deep gratitude for being able to do this; to see these beautiful countries, to go on adventures, to have those experiences, and to experience pure freedom.