by Len Lear
In May of this year we wrote about Stephen Segal of Mt. Airy, an athletic 67-year-old who has played tennis two or three times a week at the Germantown Cricket Club for the past three decades in addition to assorted tournaments and league play. Segal, who is chairman of eReadia LLC, a mobile app publishing company (ereadia.com), has had numerous injuries, however, resulting in four knee surgeries, including three meniscus repairs and one anterior cruciate ligament (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.
When his second ACL went in June of 2013, Segal ‘s sports medicine doctors told him that his knee could not withstand another operation. Either he would have to 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.”
Fortunately for Segal, his own son, Zachary, 33, of Germantown, had in the previous 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. (Zach does personal training at East Falls Fitness and teaches a “Thread” class — a movement system — at East Falls Fitness as well as a class for Mt. Airy Learning Tree.)
Thanks to the workouts with his son and outfitted with a customized knee brace, Stephen started playing tennis again twice a week after a few months. After a few more months, Stephen dropped the knee brace and felt stronger and faster than he had in years, and he is nearly always pain free. He is also back to dancing and frequently engages in both activities on the same day.
Asked about what Zach did with him, the elder Segal insisted he 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 has also written a book on the subject, “Thread: Exercise, Body Orientation, Coordination and Methods Through Rotational Movement,” edited by local Pilates instructor, Phylinda Moore, and published earlier this month by Thread Publishing (ISBN: 978-0-9904970-1-1). Thread is a movement system that bridges the divide between art and exercise, according to Zach. Potential benefits include increase in overall power, balance, core strength, improved posture and pain relief.
“I developed this method,” he explained, “as I experimented with rehabilitating my own body from pain. I was looking for something that wasn’t as taxing as a traditional workout and wouldn’t create more wear and tear in my body but was interesting enough to meet my creative needs for movement. And I wanted a method that could be adapted to all age groups.” (The Segal family is a virtual fitness role model. Zach’s mother, Patty, is a Ph.D psychologist who is also a Pilates and gyrotonic instructor at Vitality Studio in Mt. Airy.)
One of Zach’s Thread clients, Mt. Airy resident Jennifer Dally, commented, “I’m addicted. Since working with Zach using the Thread method, I’ve noticed improvements in my balance, focus and overall body awareness. The poses are extremely challenging, and I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I master a particular sequence.”
Another client, Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, declared, “Zach has managed to convert me from someone who avoids exercising to eagerly looking forward to our twice-weekly sessions … My husband, who is in far better shape than I, has found Zach to be a terrific trainer on a professional and personal level … By the way, I asked him if I could write this testimonial – not the other way around!”
For more information about Zachary or his book, visit www.threadmovement.com.