It was 11 years ago when Joe Isaac threw out his welcome mat on Park Avenue in front of a 2,000-square foot building. Other than a few spots on the street, there was room for three or four cars to park in the rear.
Inside were some exercise equipment and a few rooms to practice physical therapy.
My how things have changed.
During the past decade-plus, Isaac has been forced to a bigger location that features a 10,000-square foot building on one acre of land with a large parking lot. The physical therapy part of the business has grown along with the gym.
But there is more than just the size of the business that has grown.
“We started with physical therapy and some exercise equipment,” said Isaac. “I had a real interest and passion in sports and rehabilitation. I got with Dave (Coburn) because he was an athletic trainer and physical therapist.”
At that time, high schools were being pressured into having athletic trainers on staff. School districts didn’t have the money for a full-time trainer when they needed to worry about teachers.
Isaac and Coburn decided to offer their services — complete with therapy equipment — on a contract bases. They decided to experiment with their idea at Ironton High School.
Since that first school in 1999, Isaac said the business has blossomed. Ironton Physical Therapy — division of Tri-State Rehab Services — currently has seven schools.
After the partnership with Ironton worked, IPT talked with Coal Grove. They later added St. Joseph and Raceland, Ky. and it continued to grow.
“The next progression was to start a fitness and conditioning portion of the business,” said Coburn, one of an elite group of certified physical therapists and athletic trainers.
“Once we opened up a fitness gym, we outgrew out space. With a bigger building, we have a fitness center for people to work out and promote a healthy lifestyle.”
The new center opened in 2003 and has since added other equipment including the area’s only pool with a treadmill for hydraulic performance. It is used not only with the private customer but high school and college athletes as well.
“The new center has enabled us to expand the fitness program and develop new programs,” said Isaac.
Another feature included in their services is a free sports clinic available every Saturday morning to any area schools. Coburn said they assess injuries, offer treatment or make referrals as needed.
But the biggest change throughout the years has been the increased sports training.
“We see more and more sports training, and not just as individuals but as teams,” said Coburn. “It’s a good compliment to the weight lifting programs. It’s the next step in the progression.
Coburn developed his own training program that he dubbed the FAST program, an acronym for functional agility speed training.
“We work with 8-year-olds to college athletes. To improve speed, agility, reaction time and power,” said Coburn.
Besides Coburn’s credentials, Isaac is not only a physical therapist but also a certified strength and conditioning specialist.
“We can offer specialized services both in the clinic and on the field,” said Isaac.
The newest addition to the training center is the Vertimax, a $3,000 device that improves an athletes quickness and agility in a small area.
“Major colleges and professional teams use it,” said Coburn. “It’s a unique piece of performance equipment.”
So what does all this really mean?
“Overall, the biggest reason we got into physical training was to look at how to prevent injuries. No one wants to see injuries including us,” said Coburn.
“With all the technology now, we can help prevent more injuries or keep them from getting worse or shorten the injury period.