physiquality blog: preventing ACL injury

As one who has survived 4 knee surgeries (soon to be 5, but none ACL-related), this topic hit home with me. I particularly enjoyed talking to Dr. Susan Sigward, who has done a lot of research on the possibility of preventing ACL injuries.

We discussed at some length the psychology of injury prevention, a topic that didn’t make it into the post because of time. I had joked that I wished there was a way to prevent my surgeries, and she pointed out that many teenagers are impossible to convince that injury prevention is important, given the invincible nature of adolescence. Would I have listened to someone if I’d known the road that had been ahead of me? Who knows? But if I ever have a little girl who loves to dance, like me, I’m sure I’ll do my best to convince her that my path was pretty painful. (Whether she’d listen to me, of course, is the question for another day.)

Preventing ACL injury

As teens return to high school and start practicing varsity sports, parents sit on the sidelines and hope it’s not their child that has a serious injury like an ACL tear. Which types of athletes are at a higher risk for ACL injuries? What can athletes do to prevent them?

All of our experts agreed that female athletes were at a much higher risk for non-contact ACL injuries. Robyn Smith, a physical therapist at The Center for Physical Rehabilitation (a Physiquality network physical therapy clinic) and lecturer on ACL injuries in female athletes, says that female athletes sustain ACL injuries “anywhere from 1.5 to 4.6 times more often than males in the same sport.” A variety of intrinsic factors cause these higher rates of injury, including alignment, anatomical differences, a smaller and thinner ACL, and coordination.

The sport being played is also important to consider. Lee notes that the types of movement that lead to non-contact injuries often involve quick stops, cutting movements (when intercepting passes), and sudden changes in direction. So sports that involve such movement, like basketball, soccer, volleyball and football, will put players at a higher risk for ACL injury.

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mizzouaphi blog: boom, boom, ain’t it great to be a phi?

I have always been a performer. While my blog header is “reader, thinker, writer,” it might as well be “dancer, pianist, singer, actor.” I’ve always wished I could be on the stage, and was, in college and a little afterwards. I was happy that when I was in college, my sorority gave me the chance to sing quite a bit, during recruitment and initiation or at serenades.

It was an honor, then, to be invited to sing when we celebrated Alpha Phi’s 100th anniversary on the campus at the University of Missouri. There had been some rough times at Omicron after I left, and despite the hardships, they persevered and our chapter survived, unlike many others that are no longer on campus. The Centennial celebration included a celebration of song at A Phi throughout the decades, and with recruitment approaching, we thought it fit to show other Phis what a great song tradition Omicron has.

Boom, Boom, ain’t it great to be A Phi?

Songs have always been a large part of sorority life. As the collegiates prepare for formal recruitment, we wanted to take a look back at some of the memories Omicron alums have of the songs of Alpha Phi.

Claire Rittendale Devoto ’70 was a songleader in the era of folk songs. She says that “singing together brought our sisters together; even those who didn’t care for singing always participated in some way.” She loved the songs from initiation and still sings them to her grandchildren, just as she did with her own children.

Sidewalk songs grew in importance in the 1980s. Alpha Phis would spill out of the house, singing popular chants and songs to help potential members learn about the house and its history. Do you remember this one?

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physiquality blog: summer fitness with the family

It’s summertime and the living is easy, if you like being outside. It’s a great time to be with your entire family, and what better time to remind your kids how important fitness is for everyone?

I spoke with several of our Physiquality partners, and asked them what they would recommend for summer fitness and fun. Here’s what they had to say.

Summer fitness with the family

Summertime is a great time to remind kids how important fitness is for all the members of the family. There are lots of ways, most of them quite cheap, to stay active and involve everyone. Here are just a few of the suggestions from our contributors:

  • Walk
  • Swing at the playground
  • Go camping
  • Jump rope
  • Ride bikes
  • Play catch with a baseball or football
  • Hit tennis balls
  • Play Frisbee
  • Hike
  • Play tag
  • Swim
  • Play kickball
  • Shoot hoops
  • Play golf or putt putt

Even if the heat has been intense, Mark Salandra, CSCS, founder of (one of Physiquality’s partner programs) reminds us that “the entire family can take a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood.” Take advantage of your local parks — if your kids need a change of scenery, it’s a great place to play tag, investigate a new playground, throw the Frisbee around, or explore new trails on foot or bike.

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mizzouaphi blog: meet Jessica Josendale

As a sorority girl, I quickly realized that your house or chapter needs constant attention. Despite the hoopla surrounding recruitment — and yes, getting new members was vital — those new members, as well as the existing ones, had to continue to be as happy to be an Alpha Phi as the day they accepted their bid to become a member.

This was why I was so committed to what they call “internal marketing,” or marketing to your members. As a senior, I created sisterhood events, published a bimonthly newsletter reminding everyone of our wonderful members, and tried to keep all members aware of why we had joined the house in the first place. (This is part of my job at PTPN today, creating publications and blog entries to remind dues-paying members what they gain as part of our network.)

So I’m happy to continue to show Alpha Phis, both current students at Mizzou and alumnae, what Alpha Phis from our chapter have been doing after graduation, how their time as an Alpha Phi affected who they are 5, 10, even 20 years after graduation. As Jessica points out, if you can rush a girl that doesn’t want to talk during recruitment, you’ll do great in any face-to-face interview.

Fabulous Alum of the Month: Jessica Josendale

Jessica Josendale, ’00, beams with all of the happy memories of her days as an Alpha Phi at Mizzou — studying at Memorial Union, living in the house her sophomore and junior years, Harpo’s on Thursday nights — but her favorite memory is winning Greek Week in 2004, her senior year. She says, “I still remember cheering at the steps of Jesse Hall. Our chapter had come SO far in the four years I had been there and I couldn’t have been more proud.”

Sisterhood became a family affair when her sister, Cathy, joined Alpha Phi in 2006. Jessica continued to participate in chapter events like recruitment and Mom’s and Dad’s Weekend, even though she had graduated and started her career in PR and advertising. While she grew up in Iowa, she thinks of Columbia, Missouri as her hometown, since she has spent more time in Columbia than in any other place. Plus, she notes, with two parents that are active Mizzou alumni, “Mizzou is more to all of us than just where we went to college. I still take pride in seeing the house at 906 S. Providence every time I drive by.”

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mizzouaphi blog: the forget me not fund

I have a confession to make. I’m a sorority girl. Not the drunken, passive, I-joined-so-I-always-had-a-party-to-go-to sorority girl. The kind that wanted to have a true sisterhood of women, the kind that ended up finding friends for life, i.e., even 15 years after graduating from college.

Going back to my campus last fall and seeing so many old friends rekindled friendships that I’ve been nurturing on Facebook and brought me back to the cameraderie of our college years. You’re reminded frequently as a student that you’re an Alpha Phi for life. Not just those 4 years.

One thing I’ve always liked about our philanthropy, the Alpha Phi Foundation, is that it includes a special fund for sisters in need, the Forget Me Not Fund. If you hit difficult times — the sudden death of a parent or spouse, a difficult and expensive treatment for illness, a natural disaster — you can apply to the fund for a one-time grant. Because Alpha Phi, and your sisters, will always be there for you, as a collegiate or an alum. I’ve always like that part of our Foundation, and when I found out that there’s been so much demands for grants that they ran out of funds last year, I offered to help promote the fund to my fellow Phis through the latest blog I’ve agreed to write for, the Mizzou A Phi blog.

The Forget Me Not Fund

We get bombarded by a lot of requests for donations these days. The phone rings with requests from a variety of organizations, and even within Alpha Phi, there are requests for helping Omicron, paying your International dues, and donating to the Alpha Phi Foundation. So why should this request — to donate to the Forget Me Not Fund — be any different?

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physiquality blog: exercising while pregnant

As a woman who exercises frequently, I’ve seen prenatal yoga and Pilates classes available at a variety of gyms and studios. So when we added the Dancing thru Pregnancy program to the list of Physiquality vendors, I was curious to see the research about staying active through dance.

I’ve danced my entire life, minus some time out for rehab post-surgeries, so I’m well aware of the health benefits and enjoyment one gets while moving to music. But I also know that pregnancy completely changes your center of gravity, which is why I’ve been so impressed to watch my modern dance instructor, who’s currently 5 months pregnant with her second child, continue to move with agility and grace, even if her alignment is different than when I began studying with her.

The below article may be full of research proving that exercise is beneficial for both mother and child (if one takes into account the few positions to avoid); watching Rachel move as her pregnancy advances has been proof enough to me that dancing through pregnancy is a great way to stay healthy and happy.

Exercising while pregnant

Pregnancy is an exciting and challenging time for a woman. Along with her partner, she’s anticipating the addition of her child to her family. She’s reading constantly, trying to discern what advice to listen to and what to dismiss. She’s much more aware of her body, what she’s eating and how she takes care of it. Which often leads to the question: Should I exercise while I’m pregnant?

Women’s fitness expert Ann Cowlin and physical therapist Michael Fahmy say the answer is a definite yes — exercising while pregnant has been shown to benefit both mother and child.

According to Michael, babies born to women that exercised while pregnant have lower instances of “heart rate abnormalities, cord enlargement, and the presence of meconium and erythropoietin levels (all signs of hypoxia, or fetal distress).” Studies have also shown that exercise-exposed babies have healthier hearts and improved breathing movements in utero. Exercise enriches and enlarges the placenta, increasing the exchange of nutrients, oxygen and carbon dioxide with the fetus. And studies have shown that exercise during pregnancy leads to lower — and healthier — birth weights.

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physiquality blog: fitness for older adults and seniors

Physiquality has been looking a lot at fitness programs and products for older adults, so I suggested writing about the topic. I’ve been especially interested in this since my grandmother had a stroke last year and, more recently, fell and broke her wrist. I know that breaking your arm and wrist is the “gateway break” for hips and other, more devastating, injuries, so I’m always curious to know more about how to help her stay fit. (Thankfully, she’s an unusual senior; she typically walks a few miles every day and I’ve never seen her eat an egg yolk. Very health conscious.)

This was one of my more fortunate topics for information gathering — four of the five people to whom I sent questions replied, making the writing quite easy. I lined up their replies and got some great tips to pass along to Grandma.

Fitness for older adults and seniors

As we age, regular exercise is incredibly important for staying healthy. It reduces weight gain that would put additional strain on weakening bones. It helps to maintain your sense of balance, reducing the risk of falls and broken bones. And it also keeps your mind active; one study has even shown that higher levels of physical activity correlate to a lower risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

So why do so many older adults and seniors remain sedentary? One challenge is that the older you get, the more difficult it is to change your habits. Joyce Klee, a physical therapist in the Physiquality network of experts, says, “Seniors can be resistant to change. They like being comfortable and knowing what to expect.” And if they have never exercised in the past, some feel that it’s pointless to start in their 60s or beyond. This is why Mark Salandra, founder of, likes to remind his older clients that it’s never too late to get into shape, and that without strength or flexibility, they could easily lose their independence.

Older adults also frequently face a variety of health problems, some minor, some severe, that can feel like road blocks on the way to a healthier life. Stefania Della Pia, program director of education for STOTT PILATES®, points out that instructors “are often presented with a number of concurrent concerns that each have their own programming criteria.” The challenge for those working with older populations is to be prepared for a variety of these issues and to have a wide range of adaptations that will allow seniors to exercise, despite such challenges.

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case study: DOZZINO

My husband often laments the dearth of quality restaurants in our neighborhood (lots of cooks, but not many chefs), so we were excited to see a new place open up on our block steps away from our front door last November.

Every time we go in, we’re impressed by their branding and marketing. (Disclosure: While we’re both in marketing, neither of us has had anything to do with their work. Except eating their product with some frequency.) After our last visit, I was inspired to use them as an example for several things every company should do in their marketing/branding.

Spare design is good design. From the moment you walk in, this is apparent. The space is simply decorated, with rough hewn wood tables and a granite bar countertop. Nothing fancy, nothing unnecessary. The same goes for their website and menu — no unnecessary clip art; no long, overdone food descriptions (granted, at a pizza place, this is a little easier to do). Even their small kitchen maximizes space; clutter is impossible.

The DOZZINO menu

Branding = consistency. They chose a large, bold font (from searching through My Fonts, I think it’s Twelve Oaks) and use it in about 95% of their marketing: On the menu. On the website. On their t‑shirts. Last weekend, we saw that they even used it in an in-house video that ran on the TVs. The font (and the spare copy) was how we knew it was a video about DOZZINO, rather than local TV.

Always pick quality over quantity. The menu is short: 7 types of pizza, and salads and desserts are posted on their specials board. They don’t have a lot of drink choices (soda, water, espresso — and, like a lot of places in the Boken, it’s BYOB). But they’ve invested wisely. A wood-burning oven means they’re the crispiest pizzas in town. And the top-of-the-line espresso maker means (some of) the best espresso in Hoboken. And those are the things that will keep bringing customers like us back.

Social media doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. They keep an active blog (55 posts in April, 52 posts in May), but many of the posts are simply photos of the restaurant. The Twitter feed is mostly populated by pics of their specials board, so followers are getting the daily specials, along with information about hours and restaurant events. Everything informs the customer about the location and product, without taking up too much time they’d rather spend baking pies.

A sense of humor is always a good thing. Their copy may be spare, but it’s to the point. Who doesn’t want a pizza made with “fresh dough, a wood fire and love?” The video uses repetition to remind viewers about what they offer: “We gots fresh dough daily… We gots crisp produce… We gots a hot oven.” Is it grammatically correct? No. Do I really care? No. They’ve gotten their point across in a quick and humorous way, and given that everything (including lovely words like mozzarella, sopressata and prosciutto) is spelled correctly, it’s pretty clear that it has been done on purpose.

So that’s a few things that DOZZINO has done well. Combine that with a great product and a nice patio overlooking a bocce court, and I’d say they’re going to do very well indeed.

physiquality blog: why you should give suspension training a try

One of the companies I work with, Physiquality, has been building an impressive array of wellness partners over the last few years. They’ve added several fitness programs since our launch in 2008, and I’ve often taken the chance to try out these new classes in order to get a sense of the program before I write the copy.

After researching our new partner, Serius Strap from Railyard Fitness, I’m dying to try out this type of fitness. The dancer in me is keen to sample the balance exercises, and (as with most women), I’d always love to chisel off a little bit more of my midsection. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any classes in Hoboken, so I’ll have to settle for writing about suspension training until then.

Why you should give suspension training a try

Suspension training has been a big buzz word lately. Infomercials abound, singing its praises. Military men brag about the added strength they build with it. Celebrities endorse it in the pages of magazines and on TV shows. So what is it?

A suspension training device is essentially a very strong strap with handles on the ends that can be secured to something overhead, like over a door or to a beam. The beauty of the systems is that you can do literally hundreds of different exercises with them.

Whether you’ve seen one before or not, here are some good reasons you should give suspension training a chance.

  1. Suspension training strengthens your core.

Your core, or postural, muscles stabilize your body. While they are a small portion of your entire body, strong muscles around your trunk and pelvis enable balance and stability and make other physical activity much easier.

Suspension trainers effectively make your core muscles turn on and work. By increasing your instability, suspension trainers make you work harder to complete exercises. David Berman, PT, who worked with Railyard Fitness to create the Serius Strap, uses the following example: “It’s like the difference between sitting on a standard chair, where the chair provides all of the stability, and sitting on a fitness ball, where your body has to work a bit to keep you from falling off.”

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Interview with Ryan MacPherson

Since part of our MizzouNYC website is publishing a quarterly newsletter about our events and members, I’m always looking for new people to profile and promote within our group. I had known Ryan in my last year at the University of Missouri — we did West Side Story together (he was Tony, I was a random Jet girl gutter slut) and later worked together at the Gap in Columbia. I’ve followed his career as an opera singer from a distance, and when I’d moved to New York, we’d reconnected a little online as he gave me advice for what to do around town.

He’d disappeared more recently, but when my close friend Andi did a production of La Traviata with him in Tampa, I saw a chance to contact him and profile him for our newsletter. He happily accepted and answered my questions promptly, in between rehearsals in Vienna for another production.

It’s always easy to write when you have plenty of material, and Ryan’s been busy traveling the globe as an opera singer now for 15 years. You can read his profile on the website at