From A Heart Attack to a 5k - One Man's Inspiring Story


Friday, January 30, 2015
Ryan started out as a patient at our Coopersville office and he quickly became a friend. A big thank you to Ryan for sharing his inspirational journey with us.

My name is Ryan Burk and this is my story.

Would you believe that a broken ankle saved my life? On February 19, 2014 I fell on the ice at work and dislocated and broke my ankle in three places. At the hospital, I was surprised to find out that the doctors couldn't perform immediate surgery on me because of high blood pressure. But what was even more shocking were the results of my EKG - news that would change my life forever. The test showed that I'd had a previous heart attack, and I never even knew it. Maybe I wasn't in the best of health, but I wasn't even 40 years old. How could I have had a heart attack?

The events that transpired stirred a wave of emotions in me and at the end of the day the only good thing I could take from this experience was the fact that I was still alive. Bad news continued to come my way as the doctor explained that my heart was only working at 50%, and no matter what, it would never function any better than that. As I sat there in shock, I knew I only had one choice, and that was to live. I thought about my wife and three beautiful daughters - I had to be there for them. It was that moment that changed everything. I was going to get healthy, no matter what it took.

Two days after my accident the doctors were finally able to perform the necessary surgery to repair my broken ankle. I left the hospital with a few spare parts, specifically, one plate and eight screws in my ankle, and a portable defibrillator vest that I wore 24 hours a day until one could be permanently implanted, which took about two months and left me with a sling on my arm for six weeks. It was still hard for me to believe that I was literally on the verge of a life threatening situation, but I was ready to do whatever it took to get strong and move forward.

With a sore ankle, an arm that was out of commission, and a "broken" heart, I was feeling down, but not out. I clearly remember my first day at Northern Physical Therapy, just one week after my ankle surgery. My therapist actually wanted me to peddle a stationary bike. "Are you kidding me!?" I asked. My ankle was broken, there was clearly no way I could peddle a bike…was there? My therapist just smiled and told me to trust her. Next up I took to the treadmill, walking at a half mile per hour pace for 1 minute. As time went on, I really did start to trust the Northern team, and I even began to develop a few friendships.

After just a few physical therapy treatments I began to notice improvements in the way I felt. I was walking faster and had less pain in my ankle. I was also losing weight, which I attributed to slowly becoming more active, and completely changing my eating habits. My friends began to notice the difference in my appearance and the changes I'd made as well. They'd often ask how I was able to maintain such a strict diet and pass on birthday cake and junk food. It was simple really. If I want to live longer, I'd have to pass on that cake. Don't get me wrong, not every day is perfect - I still enjoy my B-Dubs chicken wings every once in a while, but I really try to watch my diet and exercise. I've already lost 40 pounds and am on track to lose 10 more.

Ryan and his daughter Jacie train for their first 5k at our RunFit run club.

As physical therapy came to a close I started exercising on my own. I initially chose cycling because it was low impact and easy on my ankle. Things progressed and this past summer I completed my goal of riding over 1,000 miles! I then told my daughter that I would run a 5k with her so we both joined the RunFit club at Northern Physical Therapy. Not that she needed it, but she runs beside me and encourages me as I train for the upcoming Outhouse 500, an annual 5k race held in Coopersville. I'm also part of the HIIT class (high intensity interval training) at Northern, which takes place outdoors at 5am. I never would've imagined that I'd be going to exercise classes at 5am with a yoga mat tucked under my arm, but here I am, and I really do enjoy it!

The last year of my life has been filled with struggle, pain, hope, and determination. It's hard to believe I went from being on the verge of another heart attack to training for a 5k. I cannot thank the Northern Physical Therapy team enough for their encouragement to get me through my rehabilitation process. Over the last year I truly realized how much my family and friends meant to me and how much they're willing to be there for me through the good times and the bad. Most importantly, I wouldn't be where I am today without the most important person in my life, my wife Hannah Burk, who is the strongest woman I know. She stood by me and played the role of wife, nurse, and driver; and she maintained the household while I was down and out. My three amazing daughters, Sam, Jacie, and Avery were so supportive and incredibly helpful in taking on the responsibilities that I couldn't accomplish. This spring I am most looking forward to seeing their faces at the finish line when I complete my first 5k. Who knows what I'll be able to accomplish in 2015…for me, this is only the beginning.

Winter Workout Tips and HIIT Mini Session


Thursday, January 29, 2015
Winter can be a tough time of year for those who enjoy getting out and exercising. It's so easy to find excuses when you look outside and see blustery conditions and piles of snow. For those of us that live in Michigan, cold weather is a reality, but it doesn't have to stop us from getting up, working out, and feeling great. Here are some tips for winter workouts.

Embrace Winter
- Don't limit yourself to staying indoors…it's only cold for a minute, well, maybe 2. But don't hang up your running shoes just because of winter weather.
- Dress for the conditions, about 20-25 degrees warmer than the actual temperature.
- Layer your clothes so its easier to adjust when you start to warm up.
- Cover your ears and hands, find shoes or traction cleats to reduce your chances of slipping, and remember a reflective vest with an LED light.

Your runs might be shorter and a bit slower, but it sure will feel nice to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Occasional outdoor workouts will help balance some interesting indoor workouts. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Winter Workout Special :: HIIT Mini Session
Join our HIIT (high intensity interval training) class now for only $30. We've got 5 sessions remaining and this is a great time to jump in and test out the class. Classes take place outside at our Coopersville location on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 5:00-5:30am. We also take walk-ins at $7 per session, but if you sign up for all 5 right now you'll get the $30 discounted price. Click here to join the class.

Meet Susan Kloosterhouse :: Marketing & Business Development


Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Meeting new people and getting out in the community is what I love most about working at Northern. Over the last 8+ years I've transitioned from a PCS (Patient Care Specialist) to handling our marketing/business development and accounts payable. I also put my certification in massage therapy to good use the first few years I was with Northern. I've since transitioned out of that role and spend a majority of my time at our Coopersville office, when I'm not out networking throughout our 6 communities. Those that know me well, know I love to chat so getting out and promoting all the great things Northern has to offer is a great role for me.

I’ve been married to my husband Blair for 10 years and we have two sons, Trenton who is 7, and Wyatt who is 4. We love doing all kinds of activities together as a family, and especially enjoy spending time outdoors by hunting, fishing, camping together. 

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Healthy Now


Monday, January 26, 2015
You know that going to the gym or waking up before the kids for an early morning run will help you burn calories and get in shape, but sometimes it really is hard to find the time. But, there are so many unconventional ways to get in shape, you just have to get a little creative. Even when your schedule is packed, you can still sneak in a little fitness each day. Here are 5 quick tips you can use right now to get on your way.

Get up and move
Go ahead, try it right now. Even if its just briefly, jogging in place or doing 20 jumping jacks will stop your stress response dead in its tracks, get your blood flowing, and relieve that mid day slump.
Wear an activity tracker
Whether it's a Fitbit, a Garmin, or your iPhone, studies have show that people who wear a device that tracks the number of steps they've taken will actually move around more than those who don't. See our take on whether they really work here.

Get outside
Fresh air is full of negative ions, which may boost oxygen flow to the brain and decrease anxiety. Take 5 minutes outside and go for a quick walk - the additional activity will boosts your endorphins and energy.
Make the most of family time
Make physical activity a family affair. Today's kids (and most adults) are more dependent on technology and devices than ever before. Disconnecting from the computer and smart phone is important for the health of your entire family. Instead try playing hide and seek, go for a walk to the park, ride your bikes to the grocery store. Teaching your kids to lead an active lifestyle starts at home.

Diet right - no fads
Dieting can be easy, but the idea is to create a lifestyle change, not an 8 week binge of eliminating sugar or cutting out fats. All you need to do is make small changes in your meals. Eat a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar, switch out the creamer in your coffee for milk, switch to brown rice instead of white, or choose whole grain bread over white. By eating wholesome foods and making healthier substitutions, you'll consume fewer calories and be less hungry, which could equal a workout every day.

Being healthy doesn't have to mean drastically changing your entire lifestyle. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple changes. Some quick-and-easy tweaks to your daily health regimen can make a big difference in the way you feel.

Simple Exercises to Reduce Back Pain


Thursday, January 22, 2015
Simple back exercises can really keep you feeling comfortable and reduce back pain that can be caused from sitting, or overextending your back. Arching your back is a great way to reverse the curve and it can be done anywhere.
On a recent snowmobiling trip, Julie Blodgett, a physical therapist at our Sparta clinic, showed Frosty just how beneficial simple back exercises can be in reducing aches and pains.

If you're not lucky enough to be enjoying the fresh air, you can still do simple exercises indoors to reduce pain. We're showing you how to reduce fatigue, back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain caused by sitting in a chair all day - check out our video below. These simple stretches are easy to do at your desk, with your office chair, or anywhere you sit for long periods of time.

A Pain Free New Year :: Avoiding Sports and Fitness Injuries


Wednesday, January 21, 2015
While your holiday season is filled with festivities, an abundance of sugar cookies, and a few champagne toasts, the New Year and it’s always present resolution list will be lingering in the back of your mind. If you’re like 38% of Americans, your plan for 2015 involves losing weight and getting in shape. But, if it’s been a while since your last trip to the gym, it’s not a bad idea to brush off the rust and talk with your  physical therapist about ways to stay safe and avoid an injury while getting fit.
Visit any gym in January and you’ll be sure to find a bevy of ambitious fitness fanatics tackling the treadmills and lifting weights. By February, a lot of those go getters are singing a different tune. Did the ambition die off? Maybe. But a great deal of people actually lay off the program because they’ve developed a nagging pain, a sprained ankle, or a torn muscle. Approximately 460,000 injuries are caused by exercise and exercise equipment each year in the U.S. That’s more than double the entire population of Grand Rapids. Before you hop on the treadmill or attempt your first spinning class, you should exercise caution to avoid injury.

It’s ideal to come in before you begin a new fitness program in order to start out on the right foot and avoid injury. While we’re always here to provide excellent rehabilitation treatment, it’s better for everyone if we can assess, educate, and instruct you before you end up in pain.
A consultation with a physical therapist before starting a fitness program can help you to:
- Set realistic goals to see faster results, and so you don’t overextend yourself
- Become more mobile, flexible and stronger so you are able to tolerate exercise, thus allowing you to do more
- Look for any imbalance issues
- Learn the correct way to stretch, move, warm up; and know when to quit
- Provide treatment options for existing pain that could worsen with exercise, such as issues in the low back or knees

We plan our New Year’s Resolutions with the best of intentions but an unexpected injury can quickly halt not only our resolution, but life in general. With a focus on wellness, prevention and overall health, we’re helping you achieve your personal fitness goals in the safest and most effective way possible.

Since we're already in to 2015 and direct access is in full effect, we will not require a physician’s referral and we welcome anyone interested in learning more about how to have a healthy, safe and injury free start to the new year.

Talking About Womens Health with eightWest


Tuesday, January 20, 2015
WOOD TV's eightWest welcomed us back once again and this time around we talked about women's health. 

Imagine you’re out with your girlfriends having a great time, enjoying a glass of wine, you get to laughing, when “oops, I think I just peed a little!” Laughter can quickly turn to embarrassment when its accompanied by a little urinary leakage.

It may have started happening after you had your baby, as you got older, or after surgery. But the important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Urinary incontinence affects millions of women of all ages, not just the elderly. Its an embarrassing topic to talk about, but there is a solution and the sooner you can get it looked at, the better your chances of making a full recovery.

Keeping these issues to yourself because you’re embarrassed or because you think it’s normal is really only doing more harm. Its not uncommon for women to have leakage after childbirth, with sporting activities, or as we age; however this is something that shouldn’t be labelled as normal.

Check out our full interview with WOOD TV, and eightWest and Rachael Ruiz below, and if you have any questions on women's health, bladder issues, or incontinence, give us a call at 616.997.6172.



See our previous eightWest segment with Jordan Carson where we talked about direct access and how it effects healthcare and physical therapy in Michigan.

A New Workout :: Tabata


Monday, January 12, 2015
Tabata (also known as High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT) is one of our favorite workouts and it can usually be done indoors or outdoors. This 20 minute, highly intense workout will boost your strength and get your heart rate elevated. It can also help improve your running speed when you incorporate a treadmill interval. In a typical tabata workout there are 5 circuits that include 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes. The 10 second rest period gives you just enough time to catch your breath, then you're off again. Our favorite combination of circuits includes burpees, lunge jumps, treadmill (run at the highest pace you can tolerate for 20 seconds then step your feet off to the side for 10 seconds), push ups, and mountain climbers.

If you're looking for an organized Tabata style workout, we start new sessions of our HIIT class every few weeks and drop ins are welcome! Check our classes page to see when the next session starts.

Burpees - build muscle and endurance
1. Start standing then drop down to a squat
2. Kick your feet out behind you so you are in a push up stance
3. Do a push up
4. Pull your feet back in so you are in a squatting position
5. Jump up as high as you can

Lunge Jumps
1. Begin in a lunge position
2. Jump up and quickly swap your leg positions in mid-air, but remember to keep your torso straight
3. Raise your hands to gain additional height
4. Land in the lunge position bending your knees to absorb the impact
5. Go straight into the next jump, switching your feet once more, and landing in your original lunge position

Mountain Climbers
1. Begin in a pushup position on your hands and toes
2. Bring your right knee in towards your chest, resting your foot on the floor
3. Jump up and switch your feet in the air, bringing your left foot in and sending your right foot back
4. Continue to quickly alternate your feet
5. To modify, rest your hands on a step

Quick & Healthy Snacks


Thursday, January 08, 2015
We've rounded up a selection of quick and healthy snacks that are really tasty, and not-so-typical. We wanted to come up with options that used standard ingredients, took less than 5 minutes to make, and were good for you. 
Watermelon with a twist
Cut 2 cups of watermelon into bite-sized chunks and toss with 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice and ½ teaspoon of grated lime zest. For a spicy effect, sprinkle a pinch of cayenne pepper and 2 teaspoons of chopped unsalted roasted pistachios.
126 calories / 2 g fiber / 3 g protein / 3 g fat

Banana, Kale, and Almond Milk Smoothie
In a blender, puree 1 banana, 1 cup chopped kale, and 1 cup almond milk until smooth.
201 calories / 5 g fiber / 5 g protein / 4 g fat

Cherry Tomatoes & Goat Cheese
Cut cherry tomatoes in half and top with fresh goat cheese. For an added twist, sprinkle with chopped herbs like chives, basil, or parsley.
98 calories / 1 g fiber / 6 g protein / 7 g fat

Celery Sticks, Hummus, Olives
Coat celery sticks with 3 hummus and sliced olives (kalamata are a good choice).
129 calories / 5 g fiber / 5 g protein / 8 g fat

Dark Chocolate and Nut Clusters
This one is higher in fat and sugar, so eat it in moderation. But, it is a perfect choice when you're looking for something sweet. Mix together ¼ cup of your choice of nuts with 1 ounce of melted dark chocolate (go for something with a higher percentage of cocoa). Put the clusters on wax paper and refrigerate until the harden.
195 calories / 3 g fiber / 4 g protein / 14 g fat

Freebies. Fitness. Food. Wayland Community Fitness Center


Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Don't miss the open house on January 20 from 6-8pm!

The Wayland Community Fitness Center will be hosting a family friendly open house on Tuesday, January 20, from 6-8 pm that includes exciting opportunities for all ages! Professional Triathletes Abby Geurink & Samantha Kennedy will be on hand to meet and greet, sign autographs and take pictures. Several local wellness vendors will be available with free samples of their products and making them available at discounted prices. Quality, local companies such as Northern Physical Therapy, Rich Vitality Superfoods, Inbalance Health Protein Bars and PHitnow. Jennifer Smits, personal trainer/group fitness instructor/chef, will be on hand signing and selling her cookbook “Simple and Delicious Gluten Free Dishes.”
Visit the fitness center during the open house for your chance to win special fitness center memberships, a free 1 hour massage and other free stuff. Tour the facility, learn about upcoming programs like personal training, group fitness classes & swim lessons and receive FREE fitness advice from expert staff.

The fitness center is equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes for cardio. There are pin-selectorized equipment, plate-loaded machines, dumb-bells, and fully loaded platform racks to experience a total body workout. The fitness center is located on the far west side of the WUS High School Building at 870 E. Superior, Wayland MI 49348. To contact the Fitness Center Director, email Jason Smits, or call 269-792-0011.