My childhood was pretty average.

I was born in 1984 in Lancaster, PA. In addition to my mother and father, I also have an older brother. My family moved up to the mountains, Pine Creek Valley is Northeast of State College about 70 miles when I was two. It is within this rural area I learned to coexist with nature which helped shape me into the conservationist I am today. I began playing organized baseball at age 6. Sports was a way for me to get out of the mountains and interact with other kids my age. There were few kids where I lived so getting out of the town periodically was very important to my growth mentally, intellectually, and socially.

During high school I was a four sport athlete during certain years. I played baseball, basketball, football, and track and field. I eventually had to stop basketball because my ankles kept spraining and causing a lot of pain. I stopped playing baseball because I had to choose between it and track. I had a passion for track because I accelerated in the sport and was competitive at the national level at an early age. Furthermore, I estimated the odds were in my favor. I could receive a scholarship due to my above average track record. On the track team at my high school, Jersey Shore, I threw the javelin. Consequently, I was a pitcher on a baseball team and a quarterback on the football team. By the summer of my senior year I was sustaining severe problems which caused excruciating pain in my right arm. My arm injuries were in addition to a genetic problem I’ve been battling since birth, Spina Bifida. Furthermore, my joints are very flexible and it is challenging to build muscle tissue with my inherited body type. Those two factors along with how intense my sport was made the risk for injury very high.

As a Division I athlete at PSU I was afforded many advantages. To this day I continue to consider myself blessed despite the injuries I’ve sustained. Those injuries have given me great insight and empathy which has been invaluable. By the beginning of my college career my arm had sustained a lot of injury. I honestly wasn’t certain to what level I would regain use of it, let alone participate in throwing javelin. That year my arm required an additional surgery forcing me to redshirt, which meant I didn’t participate but didn’t lose eligibility for the season. Sophomore year was a repeat of my freshman year, another surgery another year spent redshirting. Consequently, I anticipated finally participating my junior year in track at Penn State. My arm felt and functioned the best it had in years even though I wasn’t able to really throw competitively until the winter of that year. Therefore I only competed in 2 or 3 home meets, frustrated because I didn’t come close to achieving my previous personal best. A return visit to the doctor and another MRI showed 40% of my largest rotator cuff muscle was missing due to a severe tear. This diagnosis took me from having the potential to be an Olympic hopeful to the reality of having a career ending surgery after my junior year of college.

I had such a deep passion for the sport I couldn’t just walk away, so I began coaching. First as a volunteer, then I was able to do an internship with the track team allowing me to receive credits for coaching. I did that all of my senior year. Subsequently, in my fifth year of college I volunteered to coach again. Those coaching opportunities helped me overcome my despair of my own track career ending abruptly and way too early.

After coaching for a few years I realized I didn’t have the tools to help people as much as I wanted. I started studying to become a personal trainer so I could help people: 1) prevent and avoid injuries, 2) recover better and quicker if they did get hurt, and 3) understand what’s going on within the body and why it is acting the way it is.

At that point I sold almost everything I had so I could pay for rent for an entire year. Throughout the year I studied 40 plus hours a week and practiced everything I learned on myself. I remember I couldn’t stand up tall or walk very far because my back hurt so badly. Consequently I would study most of the day and then train personally to alleviate muscular imbalances and inefficiencies. Amazingly, I went from being bent over with constant pain to an active person with somewhat normal activity in just over a year. Although I wasn’t satisfied and wanted to be more active, so I kept working and to date I can do just about anything I want including golf, snowboarding, skydiving, basketball, etc.

In summary, I was seen by many doctors, I’ve followed various pain management regimes and had several surgeries. My condition was at a level where a fusion surgery at three levels of vertebrae was needed. However, surgeons wouldn’t perform the operation because I was too young. Typically that surgery would only be done on patients 50 years or older, I was 22. However, doctors said they would go ahead with the procedure, as a last option if the pain level was that severe. I’m happy to report I didn’t have to have the surgery and my back pain is under control for the most part. Fortunately I don’t have to live my life around the pain for the most part. After doing that for myself, I figured, for a living I could help people with back pain since back injuries are so prevalent. Since then I’ve been working and studying to attain certifications in order to be the best and most relevant trainer I can be. I’m currently at the point where I have every certification I want. Now, it’s time to make my own impact on the industry.

Besides sports I have a great passion for nature and conserving what we have. I love being outside especially if I can be active or playing with my dog, Penny, short for, “Penn State.” My ultimate goal in life is to live off the power grid and grow all my own food. Professionally, I am currently working on an online training program which can be used by anyone at anytime. Quality of my service is the most important priority I have. Therefore, my online training program will be individualized. I will still screen the person so I know how to write up a customized workout someone can do at home with very little equipment. The workout is designed for only one person and is not made to be effective for anyone else. After personal training and coaching for as long as I have I have seen so many different bodies. I’ve never seen two alike, they are like snowflakes. Consequently I disagree with the method of writing up a workout and letting someone do it without knowing the designated individual’s complete story. I think it’s dangerous to do group exercise for the most part. One must move well first, then move often. I also empathize with people liking to stay home and exercise. The gym can be an intimidating place. I am currently writing a book where I dedicate a section about working and being a member of different gyms. Having options is one of the best way to keep our activity level high and make as a lifestyle.

I am an easy going individual and enjoy talking to and working with people. It gives me joy and satisfaction when I am able to help people. I also consider myself to be a “life long learner”. That along with my enjoyment of engaging with people and getting to know my clients has prompted me to further develop my communication skills. It is very important I have the tools to determine when I can help an individual and when I should sent the person to see another professional for help.

I believe all the systems in the body work together and should be treated that way. The clients I have who see multiple professionals always make more progress falling in line with a total physical, emotional, psychological, nutritional, and relaxed state. Consistent with my personal experiences, likes and belief systems, I am happy to announce one of my largest goals in my personal and professional life is becoming a reality. My colleagues and I are opening an integrated wellness center as of December 2019. Along with all the other wellness professionals in our business, we are happy to say, “Ampersand Integrative Wellness welcomes you and is here to serve you”.

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