Zachary Segal, 33, of Germantown, is a fitness instructor at East Falls Fitness. He was certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Zachary Segal, 33, of Germantown, is a fitness instructor at East Falls Fitness. He was certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

by Sally Cohen

Stephen Segal of Mt. Airy has been an avid tennis player since the age of 10, which was 57 years ago. He played all sports as a kid, but tennis was always his favorite and is the only sport he does seriously now. For the last 30 years, he has played two or three times a week at Germantown Cricket Club, including a regular twice-a-week 25-year game with his buddy and former Mt. Airy resident, Doug Frenkel, in addition to assorted tournaments and league play.

With it all, Segal has had his share of injuries, resulting in four knee surgeries, including three meniscus repairs and one ACL replacement. With each surgery came the joy of returning to his sport but also the loss of cartilage and the gradual onset of advanced arthritis.

(Segal owned a company called Family Partners, Inc., from 1985 to 2005, which produced promotional and retail magnetic memo boards for various major companies. That company is no longer in business. Currently, Segal is chairman of eReadia LLC, a mobile app publishing company {ereadia.com}. He is also president of the board of the Treatment Advocacy Center of Arlington, VA.)

When his second ACL went last June, Segal’s sports medicine doctors told him that his knee could not withstand another operation. Either he try to rehab it and do injection therapy or get a knee replacement. Tennis and Israeli dancing (another pleasure) were out, and according to Segal, “Even going down the stairs was often an unpredictable and frequently painful challenge.”

Rehab and training was Stephen’s clear preference, and as luck would have it, he knew quite well a movement specialist and had already begun training with him. That person was his son Zachary, 33, of Germantown, who had in the prior year redirected his own interests in movement, fitness and dance to become a fitness instructor certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. (Zach graduated from Penn Charter High School and Arcadia University. He also attended graduate school in Movement and Dance Therapy at Drexel U. for 1.5 years but then decided it was “not the right focus.”)

After two months of physical therapy, the elder Segal went all in with his offspring, working together three times a week at East Falls Fitness, where Zach’s practice has been based since June of 2013.

In November, outfitted with a customized knee brace, Stephen started playing again with Doug twice a week. He was pleased to be back but was frustrated as well. His stroke was there, but often he wasn’t where the ball was. Doug started to dominate, and while he enjoyed winning, he didn’t want it to come too easily.

The balance of power that had “kept the peace” and the fun for so many years was upset. The changeovers became longer, and conversation turned to existential issues. What lies ahead? Death? Doubles? Dark humor prevailed.

Stephen Segal, 67, of Mt. Airy has been an avid tennis player for 57 years. He has had to endure four knee surgeries, including three meniscus repairs and one ACL replacement, but he’s back to normal now, thanks to a source close to home. (Photo by Douglas Frenkel)

Stephen Segal, 67, of Mt. Airy has been an avid tennis player for 57 years. He has had to endure four knee surgeries, including three meniscus repairs and one ACL replacement, but he’s back to normal now, thanks to a source close to home. (Photo by Douglas Frenkel)

Until February. Then the scale started to tip back. Order was seemingly returning to their world on the court. Now they are back to being even in the score, even as they battle like two dogs on one bone. Stephen has dropped the brace and feels stronger and faster than he has in years, and he is nearly always pain-free. He is also back to dancing and frequently does both activities on the same day. Ask Stephen how he feels about what Zach has done with him, and all he can say is “astonished.”

As for Zach, he is now certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a master trainer, with additional certifications in senior fitness, corrective exercise, speed agility and quickness, kettle bells, sports performance enhancement and youth fitness. Zach has developed an exercise system called Thread Movement for balance, flexibility and stability.

He teaches Thread at Mt. Airy Learning Tree and at East Falls Fitness, and trains people both at their homes and at the gym. He has also written a book on the subject, edited by local Pilates instructor, Phylinda Moore. Zach expects the book to be available this summer.

Stephen’s wife of 45 years, Patty, is a Ph.D psychologist but in recent years has become a Pilates and gyrotonic instructor and works at Vitality Studio in Mt. Airy. The couple have two other children, Adina Shapiro, 39, and Noah, 37. Adina is married, lives in the Art Museum area and works part-time teaching photography and poetry to kids in Dream Camp at Girard College. Noah is a physics teacher at the Trinity School in New York City.

For more information about Zachary, call 215-688-6241 or visit www.threadmovement.com.

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