The very first time I picked up a weight was at the age of 12. By the age of 13 I had fallen in love with fitness (more specifically, bodybuilding). I remember it like it was yesterday (1998). By 1999, I had become so “obsessed” with training that I refused to go try out for the high school football team. I refused to go out for the team because I felt it would take time away from my training. Now I know that sounds silly, but that was who I became. I don’t know many 13 year olds that would have come up with that reasoning. I recall being in the gym for 3-4 hours a day (overtraining), but obsessed with learning from the older crowd. I loved bodybuilding and everything about it. I loved the “pump” specifically as you may have heard Arnold talk about it. I loved that my destiny was in my own hands and that knowing the work I put in (which didn’t seem like work to me because I loved it) was for a greater good. Whether that be molding my body into what I wanted it to look like (the product) or just feeling the rush of endorphins and euphoria it gave me (the process). I had my first experience with orthopedic doctors and physical therapy in 10th grade (age 15) for a nagging shoulder injury which they deemed to be tendonitis of course. Fast forward 7 years and I had 5 cortisone injections and experienced the worst standard of care in my life at this point. Physical therapy for 3 months at 3 times a week and my shoulder feels worse? This can’t be right, there has to be a better way. Well there wasn’t. I went on to have a shoulder surgery at the age of 23 (average age for this surgery is 48, I was told by my orthopedic doctor. I knew that having had 3 cortisone shots in an 18 month period and trying physical therapy had failed me. It was the logical thing to do. I had a bone spur that was providing me with impingement at the A.C joint. They shaved down the clavicle via an orthoscopic surgery. I was told the rehab would be 6-8 weeks; it took 6-8 months. I began to lose faith in the health care industry, but what was I to do? These people are incredibly intelligent human beings; they are DOCTORS; they have been in school forever, who am I (Just a gym teacher) to say their approach did not work.
Fast forward to the age of 24 (2010) when I began seeing my first chiropractor. He told me I had flat feet, (which I did) he put my feet in a mold and I gladly paid the $300 for orthotics. It made sense what he was saying; again who am I to criticize this man with all of his education. This is his job. He seemed like a good guy, why would he lie to me. I drank the kool aid for 3 years with him. They had me going in 2-3 times a week religiously for adjustments and occasionally some graston work and A.R.T (Active release technique). Things were good for a few years. I figured my insurance accepts this, and if I am going to continue to train like an athlete, this makes sense that I “take care of my body”.
By 2013, I started feeling “off”. I would squat and noticed I had to kick my right leg out more. I would walk and feel as if one leg was longer than the other. I began to ask others (veterans like myself) in the gym that I trained at if they ever felt this. Nobody felt it. I began to get what I thought was a knot in back of my right shoulder blade. I was training hard but smart during this time (13 years of experience). I began to get a massage once a month, it seemed to alleviate the symptoms, for a good 5 months. Then my body officially failed me after getting in the best shape of my life in 2013 August. This is when I sought out the help of a rolfer in Westport, CT. I gladly paid $150 a session, and saw him once a week. After 12 weeks, I was feeling good again. I was so happy to be back in the gym at the age of 27 (2014) and doing what I love!
By 2015, the unthinkable happened. The New England Patriots (America’s Team and my team) had just won the Super Bowl. I went to the parade and celebrated with my people. Two days later, my body had failed me once again. I was depressed to say the least. This is where the STORY truly begins.
I was determined to seek out help once and for all to figure out what was “wrong” with me. I saw 2 neurologists, 3 orthopedic doctors (one celebrity doctor, ) 4 physical therapists (one out of pocket), 5 chiropractors, 3 massage therapists, a rolfer, an acupuncturist, a dry needling specialist, a rheumatologist and a liver doctor at NYU. I had an emg done, a liver biopsy, more blood work than you can imagine. I even saw a quack that told me I had adrenal fatigue. When I tell you I tried everything under the sun, I mean it. I recall being envious of cancer patients during this time. I was jealous because they had an answer. I was praying for an issue with my liver or an autoimmune disease. All I needed was an answer, so that I could proceed with the process of recovery. I was 28 and physically I felt like I was 80. Over 25 health care PROFESSIONALS had failed me miserably. I had facet joint injections, even more cortisone injections and then began to seek out the help of a psychiatrist. Nobody understood what I was going through. My friends, colleagues and some family members began to view me as a hypochondriac. Many of the doctors and chiropractors I felt viewed me the same. I knew I wasn’t crazy and I knew my body. After 15 years of training, you develop a heightened level of body awareness. I had to try everything so I said “maybe they are right, maybe this is in my head. The psychiatrist was convinced that this was due to anxiety and depression. I had to hear him out. While I did not agree, I had to be logical. Unfortunately, but fortunately the psychiatrist was WRONG.
In 2015, June, I had come across a unique individual in Queens, New York. I remember the very first day meeting him for a consult like it was yesterday. He was an out of pocket PT, charging good money that I was more than happy to pay. I was desperate. I had told him that day, that if he got me back to training IN 5 YEARS and feeling “normal” again I would pay him $200,000. I WOULD SELL MY HOUSE TO GET MY LIFE BACK. He laughed, and replied “I see this all the time, man”. Now I had heard this far too often at this point, but again, I had to TRY everything. I had told him if this didn’t work, I would be flying to California to seek out the help of another specialist. Long story short, my case was a challenging one. Throughout the first 3-4 months we made little to any progress. He had been fairly new to this using this new modality called “POSTURAL RESTORATION” (PRI). I began to ask him if this was “in my head” like the others wanted me to believe because of their incompetence. He got upset with me, and promised me that it was not in my head and that what I was experiencing was very REAL, based on his assessments. Some big names in the industry were notified of my case, by him; one of them being the creator of PRI. We took pictures of my pallet and posture and sent them out. He studied my case relentlessly as he saw it as a challenge. He was hungry, he was passionate… HE CARED….
Once we got the correct assessment, I began to notice changes in my body almost immediately. I would drive an hour and 15 minutes once every 2-3 weeks to NY, to be reassessed and receive a new prescription. It was not your typical prescription written on paper for drugs. It was a prescription of UNIQUE CORRECTIVE EXERCISES. I would complete the exercises with him during our session and it was on ME to do them every day. I did them everyday, and the rest is history.
I would come back to him with notes on top of notes recorded on my cell phone with questions that I had as well as feedback to provide him in hopes of helping him HELP ME. Towards the approach of the 4th quarter of my rehab I was about 75 % better. I was finally training again. He felt I was passionate about this stuff, the truth is I wasn’t. I was DESPERATE. He recommended I take an introductory course. At the time, nobody was really doing this type rehab and it had extreme value. It seemed to be this secret that all PRI clinicians and practitioners didn’t really talk about. Perhaps, they felt they had an edge over the market. Perhaps they knew that everyone else was stuck in 1960s while they were onto cutting edge, state of the art CARE. When he recommended I pursue this, I looked at him like he was crazy. I replied, “The only reason I am bringing you all of this information is to desperately help myself. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. He saw a PATIENT that would go on to be one of the best and most honest PRACTITIONERS.
By the end of my rehab June 2016, I went on to pursue it. In the back of my mind, I pursued it SELFISHLY. I went on to get 5 PRI certifications and my cscs all in a 9 month time frame. I did it because I knew this man was going to blow up and be a success. He had something the others didn’t. He had a product that actually worked, and the passion to fuel it. I did it, so I wouldn’t have to ever put my TRUST in the healthcare industry. An industry, that failed me time after time. I have 190 college credits (with a masters degree), that respectfully does not mean a whole lot to me. I have learned more in the last 3 years than I ever have in my life.
In June of 2017, I retired from teaching. I left a safe and secure job as a high school teacher and coach. I would have been vested in just 3 more years, but I knew I wasn’t good enough to keep my teaching job and do this on the side. I knew that if I was going to set out to change the industry, one human being at a time that I had to devote my LIFE to it. The sad thing is, I would have been considered a good trainer 5-6 years ago. Not great, but very good. It is what it is, we have a lot of trainers out there. There are celebrity trainers, that are incompetent and feeding clients LIES. With that being said, my issue is not with them. My issue is with the fraudulent Chiropractors that see 6 patients in an hour. My issue is with the basic orthopedic physical therapists that are working in a mill operated and owned by ORTHOPEDIC DOCTORS. My issue is with massage therapists and manual therapists claiming to truly SOLVE PROBLEMS. With what we know today, we know that manual therapy alone is a JOKE. Manual therapy can be an excellent aid or tool. If you are expecting a magic bullet, we do not have one.. yet. I have dedicated my life to searching for what is BEST PRACTICE. Postural Restoration is an integrative approach to rehab that is far superior to anything else in the industry. Are all chiropractors bad? NO. Are you wasting your time with one? That depends. The adjustments are a joke alone. There is no professional out there that should have to see you 3 times a week for the rest of your life for 10 minutes. The physical therapists in those mills that accept insurance are fraudulent to say the least when it comes to chronic pain conditions. This is not completely there fault, however. The insurance companies are a big part to blame. How can you go to PT and come out worse? Why are they treating you and 3 others at the same time? Why is your session only 15 minutes after you deduct the time for the heat they put on you when you get there, the stupid warm up on the bike, and the ice at the end. I am a firm believer in EXERCISE and GOOD QUALITY MOVEMENT. I will continue to search for a magic bullet that is better than what I have to offer at the moment. For now, what we do at UNSHAKEN PERFORMANCE, is the best we have to offer. I have seen 46 rehab clients since January 2017. My goal is always to LOSE THE CLIENT. From my experiences thus far, I have lost clients in anywhere from 2-12 sessions. Shouldn’t that be the goal? To lose them? To make them WELL again…
If you are someone that thinks they have tried everything, I want you to know that you haven’t yet. I know that Unshaken Performance is the new standard when it comes to Rehab & Performance. You will see others just like us in the near future begin to come forth. We are the future.