I started having immune problems as a child at the age of 3. I flipped over my Bigwheel and smashing my head on the sidewalk. That day they put 6 stitches in my head. Shortly after that time, I started having swelling in my throat. My tonsils came out next… the surgery du jour. Life seemed to go on after that.
I was in my first-grade class when I first started having trouble breathing. It was springtime and the trees and grasses were in full bloom in California. I told my teacher I needed to call my mom and she said I needed to sit down, and that school would be out soon. In those days I walked a mile to my home. When I walked through the front door, my mom took one look at me and rushed to get me help to open my lungs, as she listened to me with a railing wheeze. That day I had 2 shots of adrenaline to open my lungs.
Shortly after that day I had scratch tests and started allergy shots. I was told I was allergic to grasses trees and mold ( whos not?), and that I would need to use an inhaler when I couldn’t breathe. I had nights I was so congested and had labored breathing. I would sit in the hot shower and if that didn’t work it was off to the emergency room for more adrenaline.
This went on until my mid-teens with allergy shots, inhalers, decongestants, and other nasty meds. Along the way, I discovered that I also had a deviated nasal septum which prevented me from breathing correctly through my nose.
Growing up I was physically active but would find myself on the side of the soccer field wheezing at practice. I was getting tired of all the medical doctors throwing drugs at me. They weren’t helping except for in the moment sometimes.
Never once did anybody suggest that my food may have had something to do with what was going on in my body. How about the quality of my breathing or how I was managing my stress? I remember as a child, driving past a sign which said “CHIROPRACTOR”. Every day we drove past this sign but I didn’t know what it meant and I didn’t ask.
I later found out that my mom had fears and biases against chiropractic. Since then she and my sister were the first to go to a chiropractor but never said anything to me.
I went off to college after high school and was still immune-stressed. The school “Health” center was there for me to start.
I decided to start taking yoga because my roommate was doing it. Turns out the instructor was a well-known yoga teacher named Bobbe Norisse. I also signed up for Tai Chi and autogenic training that semester. I explored meditation, herbs, and eastern healing traditions. I had some amazing teachers that helped give direction to my healing journey.
At one point I decided to book a massage at a local university. I found an incredible bodyworker named Marina Alyea. She was the first person who ever used their hands on me. I had experienced acupuncture but this was different. I booked some sessions with Marina every couple of weeks for many months. I really love the feeling of being worked on.
While in a conversation with a friend, she mentioned she was studying bodywork and suggested maybe I should consider it too. I decided to enroll in Bodywork/Massage school that summer.
I was hanging out with this girl from my bodywork class who asked me if I wanted to come to meet her friends who were both Chiropractors. At that point in my life, I said yes to almost anything that had to do with health and the human body and jumped at the opportunity.
My first chiropractor’s name was with Dr. Alan Lazar who currently still practices in southern California. He and Dr. Jennifer Gardner explained chiropractic to me. It was literally… bone, nerve, subluxation. Made sense to me.
At the time I cared way less about subluxations and more about how amazing my body felt after being adjusted. Up until this point, my body was healing but I still had work to do. I felt good, but not great and I thought I should feel great. Or at least I wanted to feel great.
Bodywork school catapulted my knowledge, helping me understand my body through different mediums. Massage, Structural Bodywork, Breathwork, Hypnosis, and more… The director of the school, Jocelyn Olivier is a master bodyworker. She’s a super-skilled healer with amazing hands.
I went searching for Chiropractors in my area and visited several. I settled on Dr. Michael Defino who had recently changed the direction of his practice to pursue NSA.
At that point, my experience with chiropractic was all structural. NSA was amazing! I was receiving NSA, bodywork, and breathwork while learning to practice and teach.
Around this time I got involved in breathwork with Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks who are pioneers in body-centered breathing. I continued to try different methods and techniques to improve my health. During a breathing session with another breathwork therapist, I torqued a rib head which started causing me severe pain between my shoulder blades.
I started looking for anything I could do to get relief. Chiropractic, Massage, bodywork, ice, heat… nothing was working. I felt pain every day. Fell asleep and woke up with it. Chiropractic adjustments and massage would help for about a day.
I discovered Tony Robbins in 1988
It was there that I woke up. I began to learn how to be at cause in my life. To be self-determined and to go after my dreams. Take action, fear into power, and commit.
While attending a Tony Robbins event, somebody suggested I go see Mark to have him work on my painful rib head. My pain had continued to persist for 9 months. Mark Lamm was a genius ( RIP). He was Tony Robbins’ bodyworker. What he did to me that day took about 15 minutes and the rib head pain never returned.
I learned a very important lesson that day, that not all bodyworkers, chiropractors, etc are the same. Mark was exceptional. Far more skilled than any bodyworker I’ve experienced since. I have a very high standard for anybody to work on my body.
As the saying goes, “cream rises to the top!”
In the summer of 1991, I attended a two-week Tony Robbins program in Hawaii as a trainer, where I met my wife, Lauren, the love of my life.
My life has been a wild ride; Cross country relocation from California to Maryland, chiropractic school, marriage, 2 home-birthed kids – no shots, chiropractic practice, moving to a new state after 16 ½ years of practice …
My then-girlfriend, and I, decided we were going to go to chiropractic school together.
We toured different chiropractic schools and decided on Logan College in St Louis. We spent a year finishing prerequisite and moved to St. Louis.
I didn’t understand at the time that schools lean and teach based on their chiropractic philosophy. So being the nonconformist that I am, I pledged Delta Sigma Chi. I quickly identified with being a straight chiropractor in a so-called “ middle of the road” chiropractic school philosophically ( which Logan is not!).
The Delts, as people would call us, set up all of the chiropractic seminars. Reggie Gold, Jim Sigafoose, Kent and Gentempo, Fred Barge… At first, Logan allowed them to speak on campus. This lasted about 6 months.
Then they made it clear that they would not allow any chiropractic philosophy on Logan Campus.
So what did we do? we adapted!
We ran seminars and events for the students off-campus. It was amazing! I took leadership roles and implemented new programs during those years.
I attended chiropractic philosophy seminars outside of Logan. Within the school, we were only taught chiropractic philosophy from Joseph Strauss’s blue book in Tri 2. That was it.
In between classes, I would take trips to the Chiropractic Archive to visit Vi Nickson. She was from the first graduating class at Logan. She was somewhere in her 90’s. I would speak with her about chiropractic and she would show me her vintage Green Books.
Lauren and I graduated from Chiropractic School in Dec. 1996 and we moved back to the Washington DC area to live near family
Full of energy and passion, we started our first practice in Tysons Corner, Virginia.
We had a great time at that office. I would say it was a family practice. We saw people of all ages. Newborn babies, teens, adults, seniors, accidents, and everything else.
As a musician, we hosted several chiropractic music nights where patients would come dance, sing, play music, and other talents, and I would play a music set with some of my patients.
About this time, a friend of mine from California started helping Kenny Loggins. We were invited to adjust the band at a local venue where they were playing near my office.
It was super exciting and I began to put my attention on contacting rock bands to offer Chiropractic. Over the years we have taken care of some great musicians and performers including Prince, The Eagles, Aerosmith, Sara Mclachlan, Justin Bieber, and many others.
We also had the opportunity to provide chiropractic care for the Cirque Du Soleil performers when they set up their tent near my office for a couple of years.
One of the funniest lines I ever heard a musician say about chiropractic was when Glen Frye peaked his head in the adjusting room and said, “ I see you’re doing a little Thoracic Park!”
For marketing, we mostly did spinal screenings and health talks. I joined several practice management groups. For several years I was mentored by Ben Altadonna and was doing direct response marketing with snail mail to promote DRX9000. This strategy was successful until it wasn’t. We changed the size of ads, headline copy, day ads ran but eventually, this stopped working for us all together and the cost per lead was just too steep.
During this time in practice, I discovered the DRX9000, DRX9000C, and Axial Decompression. At this point in my practice, the journey led me to start helping people avoid spinal surgery. I still promoted healthy living and chiropractic family care but realized I needed to find a way to help people heal non surgically from severe spinal injuries. Chiropractic is amazing at helping people in so many ways but I found that sometimes this technology was way more effective in the beginning. I would then transition them back to a more regular chiropractic schedule.
After the market crash of 2008, we struggled in practice for several years. My wife was raising our kids and doing chiropractic part-time. Marketing and outreach weren’t working as well as it did in the past. Eventually, we decided to relocate to live closer to her brother.
We left Washington DC and headed to Charlotte North Carolina in 2013.
Honestly, we were just ready to get out of Washington DC
With renewed energy and passion we set out to make a splash in Charlotte.
We were invited to open a chiropractic office inside of Innovation Park which is a 2 million square foot facility just north of uptown Charlotte. It’s about the size of a large mall. We were sold on the idea of having a captive audience. At the time, there were about 7000 people who came to work every day.
What we failed to realize was that the same process of getting to know the community doesn’t change no matter where you are. Excited about chiropractic or not, people still had to know, like, and trust us. So instead of taking off like a rocket, it’s been something else.
We have an excellent reputation now but it has taken some time. Currently, we offer chiropractic, functional medicine, axial decompression, nonsurgical treatment to help people with scoliosis, custom orthotics, and lifestyle training.
I started to work on a side hustle a few years ago called LivingMaxHealth. Medical care is not health care and chiropractic should be at the head of the health table. I have continued to make new content and share my vision to Transform World Health.
I believe people deserve better health care. It’s time for chiropractors to raise the bar!
We moved into a gorgeous new space in April 2019 and this is where we are right now. Charlotte is an amazing place to live. The weather is spectacular and the people are great. I’ve had way more first-time chiropractic patients in Charlotte than in 16+ years of practice in Virginia.
Covid has been a challenge for us being that we’re inside of this building with no tenants present. Currently, there are about 100 people in the building. We never closed the entire time this drama has been going on. People didn’t leave their homes for many months. Surprisingly enough our 2020 revenue was virtually the same as 2019. We have avoided wearing masks in the office with the exception of a few patients that ask us to do so.
We continue to push the envelope and train harder.
Thank GD, my family and I are healthy and strong. Innovation Health, our current practice continues to grow.
I’m so thankful for chiropractic.
Here’s to our next chapter… BOOM!