Relationships

15 Hours With Gwyneth Paltrow's Go-To Intimacy Coach

The highlight of the Sex, Love & Goop star’s day will surprise you.

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

Intimacy coach Michaela Boehm has worked with Gwyneth Paltrow, Will Smith, and couples across the world who want to improve their sex lives, but the highlight of her busy days? Shoveling horse manure at her ranch outside of Ojai, California.

That’s no shade to her celeb clients — she’s been Patlrow’s trusted intimacy teacher for years and recently starred alongside her in Netflix’s Sex, Love & Goop, and is featured in Smith’s memoir out this month. Instead, the joy Boehm finds in her morning ritual is a nod to how far she’s come.

Boehm, who grew up in Austria, always wanted a horse as a child. She spent years mucking out stables in hopes of getting a riding lesson in return. “To me, shoveling horse manure reminds me of the things I wanted that I now have, and I'm really enjoying it,” the 54-year-old tells Bustle.

Now, the renowned expert has five acres and a barnyard of her own. Since the pandemic started, her ranch has also become home to her virtual Non-Linear Movement Method classes, a somatic release approach Boehm developed.

In addition to her workshops, couples come to Boehm for private sessions — often those who want to redefine their relationships. But she squashes the notion that her work is only for those in “real trouble.” “I look at proper intimacy coaching — the way I do it — as continued education, essentially, and not, ‘Oh, sh*t. Things are wrong, I need to fix them.’" (In case you were wondering, Boehm says both Paltrow and Smith are quite proactive in their learning and skill development.)

Below, she takes us through a recent day as she teaches a class, films a promo video for Netflix, and does her least favorite part of work.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

6 a.m.: I wake up and it’s still dark out. This is actually late for me. I’m not a morning person, but I typically get up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. now. It’s not easy, but because of the pandemic, I’ve had to shift from public teaching and traveling all over the world to online teaching so I can accommodate different time zones. Every weekend, I start classes at 1 a.m. for those in the UK and Europe. I’ve had to train my body to get up early and go to bed early.

Dr. Andrew Huberman’s podcast Huberman Lab taught me how to do that. The key is to get up and get as much sunlight as soon as you can, or use a bright light if there is no sunlight. And then no light in the evening the hour before you go to sleep.

The first thing I do today is put on the kettle and take my newest dog (a one-eyed, 12-year-old rescue) outside. His name is Tashi, which means "the auspicious one" in Tibetan because he's a Lhasa Apso. I give my dogs names that correspond to where they come from. Standing barefoot in the cool air and looking up at the stars, I feel so grateful to live in nature.

6:15 a.m.: I have my first cup of tea and make notes for the day. I pull a few tarot cards. I’m not crazy about reading the future — it’s more of a reflection. I have very beautiful cards, so I look at the images mostly. I sit and watch the first light outside, just taking a few minutes before the day starts.

I love the metaphor of cleaning up the sh*t, so to speak, because it's part of life.

7:00 a.m.: Next, I start shoveling horse manure. I love the metaphor of cleaning up the sh*t, so to speak, because it's part of life. The barnyard is my happy place, and I love being outside and getting the first-morning sun. I get to really connect with my land and the animals. I have six dogs, a cat, two goats, two pigs, a donkey, and a horse, and everybody runs around and gets fed.

8:45 a.m.: I pour another cup of tea and start work for real. I’m teaching a Non-Linear Movement Method class over Zoom, which means I have to set up the computer, music, light, and get everyone settled. I love these hour-long sessions when people from Europe, the UK, and the U.S. all come together. Today we’re working on releasing pent-up tension. I prepared some of my favorite drumming music, and we are off.

Non-Linear Movement is one of those things that actually works better over Zoom because everyone’s in the privacy of their own home. They're a little less inhibited around moving their body and engaging with any emotions that are stuck. I do miss live classes, and I'm hoping they’ll happen again soon. I never thought I was going to be glued to a computer at a desk — that's not what I wanted my professional life to be. But now that we're doing it, I just have to adapt so that I can still teach.

10 a.m.: Now it’s time to tackle my least favorite part of work — emails. I get between 400-1,000 emails per day! Because I mostly do public teaching now, I only have 10 clients at any given time. They typically text me, so the emails I’m getting are often inquiries about workshops or personal check-ins. Some are about business stuff — I'm publishing another book soon. And then, of course, there are always people who want something and I have to deal with them. A lot of these emails need attention, so I have to actually think about it and be mindful of somebody's state.

11 a.m.: I start a private session with the wife of a couple I am working with. I had them answer a list of questions, and before we sit all together I go over the answers in detail and ask everything I need to know to support them. The questions were about how they want to reengage in their relationship now that their kids have grown up. It's the next chapter of their lives, individually and together.

I often give people questions so they can be clear on what they actually want — which, often, they are not. I create the questions for them, but they let me know a lot of things. In this case, for instance, they said, "We want to reconnect as a couple." But, really, they had lost themselves because they had a difficult child that they had to get into a better place. They had thought it was just the sexual part that wasn't OK. But really, they needed to first acknowledge that they’ve had it really tough for a while.

12 p.m.: I have a quick call with my office. I have an amazing office manager, Casey, who I talk with every day. Then I jump into the shower and get ready for my makeup to be done before I go to LA this afternoon to shoot a promo video for Netflix’s Sex/Life.

I learned a lot from filming Sex, Love & Goop. I'm not somebody who can deliver a black and white comment. That's not my style, because I think things are very, very nuanced, and I always want to bring that. But, of course, on camera you can't do that. I'm still learning and still practicing being a lot more headline-worthy.

1:15 p.m: I’m all ready and get into the car the network sent. I try to wear my mask in a way that doesn’t destroy my makeup. I never wear makeup, so when I need to, someone has to do it for me.

3:00 p.m.: When I arrive at the filming location, I fill out paperwork and get a temperature check. I get briefed on what’s happening and then, after a bit of light adjustment, I do my thing. They show me scenes from Sex/Life and have me comment as I watch. I’ve never seen it before and the scene they showed me was cringey. In my private life, I don't watch shows that have to do with sex, because it feels like another day in the office.

4:00 p.m.: I go back in the car. On my way home, I get a call from one of my regular clients, a rock star who’s on tour in Europe. It’s spontaneous — one of those, "Are you free? Can I check-in?” calls because he needs advice. I have a few clients like that, where I'm essentially on call. I have a very open-door policy for people. I trust them to trust me, but everyone knows that if I'm not available, I'm not available. This particular client is really cool and very lovely. I adore him, so he always gets my time. We talk for 20 minutes until reception goes out. I write a text to finish the conversation and make some notes for next time.

6:00 p.m.: Back home, I change out of my filming clothes, do another round of emails, check in with the office, field a bunch of requests, and answer some questions. Then I check on my animals and water a few plants that look dry.

6:30 p.m.: I’m done with work for the day. I pour myself a glass of red wine, start on dinner, and hang out with my dogs.

8:30 - 9:00 p.m.: I’m winding down in the bathtub. I go to bed way earlier than I’d like, as I’m teaching European events in the early morning hours on Zoom. This means I’ll take a bath, have tea, and settle into bed with aromatherapy oil and magnesium spray by 9 p.m.

My life is very full and very demanding, but also really fun because no two days ever are the same.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.