How I chose Physical Therapy

By the time I entered high school I had already been lifting weights for four years. When I was 10, my best buddy and I had a club, where the initiation was to lift 80# overhead. It was just the two of us in the club, and when initiation day came around, we both did it! You’re thinking, “Wow, 10 year-old’s shoulder pressing 80#, that’s pretty impressive!” We thought so too, but I smile at that now, knowing that even though we did train for the day, we likely just got the math wrong.

But I was on to something. I was intrigued with how my body changed, and how the strength gains came slowly, and it became important to me to learn more about how the body gets stronger. That Christmas, my parents got me a subscription to Muscle and Fitness magazine, a bodybuilding periodical that had pictures of huge, muscle-y men working out at gyms, and competing in contests. More important to me were the articles. It was in these pages where I was first introduced to the specificity of exercise, and the tenets of a good strengthening program.

By the time I got to high school, and began working out with other kids, I functioned as the group’s trainer. We’d meet before school at a local gym, and there, while trying my best to get a good workout in for myself, I’d field all the questions: “Hey Keith, how many reps did I do on this last time?” “What else can I do to work on my back muscles?” “Should I do these two exercises in the same work-out?” I loved every minute of it!

It was the summer between my Junior and Senior year of high school when I learned I could make a living doing what I already knew I loved. My mother was pressing me hard about figuring out what I might like to study in college, and getting nowhere with me, she gave me three weeks to give her some ideas. In typical teenage boy fashion, I did nothing. Three weeks later, when she questioned me about my ideas, I’d totally forgotten the conversation. “What ideas?” I said. “Whatever you thought you were doing today, you’re not.” my mom replied. “We’re going to library to figure out what you’re going to do for a living!”

So I spent that morning paging through reference books about different professions, and after a while struck gold! I’m so grateful that my mom harangued me into going to the library that day. The job of a physical therapist embodies just the perfect mix of my skills and passions, and is just as interesting and fulfilling today as when I started in the profession 30 years ago.

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