My work to create the ICA Conference with Arnold Schwarzenegger: 

A vision for Fitness as "Part II” of healthcare.

Jack Barnathan, B.B.A., D.C.,  C.F.T., M.F.S, M.S.S., S.S.N., S.E.T (ISSA)

I am not afraid to say out loud and to all who can hear that Chiropractic had a miraculous impact on my entire life.

But it was not just the care I received and healing that occurred.  It was the motivating goals my D.C. set before me to become stronger than ever before.

An asthma attack brought me to my D.C. and his work dramatically changed what was happening to my nervous system.  But he was also concerned with the fact that my family M.D. took me out of gym when I was 12 because of my asthma.  For a kid growing into his teens and being forced to sit on the sidelines and watch was just devastating.  

He had some remarkable advice for me: instead of obsessing on what you can’t do, lets figure out what your strengths are and build from there.

He referred me to a friend of his who was an M.D. to see if I could get back to gym class, and become an active kid again.  He asked “when does the asthma bother you?” I replied: “when I over-do it in sports, especially when it’s very cold.”  He then replied, “well, don’t over do it in sports when it’s very cold, and here’s a note saying you should get back to that gym class.”

That advice ignited me and became the direction for my life.  I started training with weights, cycling, swimming and more.  Carefully, building step by step, but there was never a trace of asthma to be found in my body again.  And this all began with my Doctor of Chiropractic. 

When I graduated from Chiropractic college (NYCC 84’) fitness was not universally accepted as important for health, or health care.  People who were enthusiastic about training were called “health nuts.”  I was actually warned by my insurance company they would not cover me for unnecessary risks (advising patients to walk around the block in the evening and perhaps, join a gym.)   Yes, they were dark times, and I was something of a rebel.

Because strength training had such a profound impact on my growth and health it was natural that I was drawn to study it as a science as well as art.  I realized that although in the 1980’s it was still largely mis-understood, this resource seemed to be a perfect complement to chiropractic care.

In other words, I was determined to make “Fitness” and “Physical Activity” the “Part II” of Health Care.  Have the Doctor of Chiropractic (or what ever kind of doctor) diagnose, and specifically correct the problem (subluxation, etc) and then help the client learn how to create a biomechanics support system from their muscular structure.  Begin the process in the office, and next refer to a certified fitness trainer.  Help the patient learn to develop both strength and flexibility.  Incorporate a meal design program that supported energy, growth and renewal.  

And at the same time, I knew Chiropractic had something to teach the Fitness world, which seemed to have an enthusiastic respect for our profession, but didn’t fully understand how it actually achieved its results.

I was determined to do something about it.

Volunteer work at disabled sports events (the forerunner of the Disabled Olympics) led me to meet a strength athlete trying to make a comeback in his 40’s, after a devastating injury left him near dead 10 years before (at the height of his competitive journey).  He consulted with me and we began working together with great results, and then training in the gym after hours.  It was a remarkable eduction for me, and in a few months he asked if I would consider traveling with him to the competition he was going to “retire” after.  He said his old roommate Arnold was running it in Columbus, Ohio and I was excited to be a part.   He told me a week later Arnold asked if I would be the D.C. on call for the event and again was honored, and only then learned that “Arnold” was Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This was 6 months after I graduated Chiropractic College and Arnold was on his way to becoming the #1 box-office star in the world.  I worked his and other events for 5 years, earning Arnold's respect and that of other leaders in the sports and fitness world.  It was then that I had the idea for a conference to be held in Columbus, Ohio during the weekend of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness Festival (which would grow to become the largest sports expo and event in the United States).

I asked Arnold backstage if he would consider appearing, speaking and taking pictures at a conference of Doctors of Chiropractic during his festival.  In exchange, we would purchase a block of VIP tickets, and be a big support to the vendors at his growing expo.  I also secured Chiropractic’s support of their drug fighting effort, and work to become recognized as an Olympic sport, which I was very active in promoting as a vehicle to drive the drugs from the sport.

Arnold agreed with a 15 minute conversation.  But convincing the Chiropractic profession took almost a year.  As remarkable as it sounds, I was having Chiropractic leaders say that I should “move it” from Columbus to their home town for convenience.  One actually said “ask Arnold if he’ll come to my backyard for a bar-b-q and we’ll pay him $100 for each autographed picture!   Needless to say I was frustrated, and embarrassed.

Finally I approached the leadership at the ICA which saw how powerful it would be to have the endorsement of the #1 box-office star in the world, considering he is an enthusiastic Chiropractic patient and his best friend is his D.C.   From there we developed the conference into the National Symposium on Natural Fitness, and I’m proud of the impact it has had on both doctors and athletes.  The ICA Council on Fitness and Sports Health Sciences was born, and I served as its first President.  In recent years I used my influence as a leader in the Personal Training arena to garner the support of organizations like the International Sports Sciences Association and others to create a broader audience, and teaching panel including experts in Fitness and Performance.

And today the mission and vision of the ICA Council on Fitness and Sports Health Sciences echoes my own many years ago; to help the world learn of the benefits of Chiropractic care and respect for the science driving our art.  And, a knowledge of and respect for physical activity, meal design and “fitness” as the “Part II” that can be a vital support to Chiropractic, and the patients we serve.

About the Author:   Dr. Jack Barnathan was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the President of the United States for his deep commitment to community fitness.  He was for 26 years an acclaimed, multi-award-winning sports doctor serving athletes from virtually every known sport and the performing arts.  He currently serves as a peak achievement consultant for individuals and businesses offering specific strategies for specialized branding and marketing, through his company, NYStrength, and serves as a Board Member for numerous charitable organizations.  After over 30 years of work as a leader and innovator in the sports and fitness arena, he firmly believes the future of “fitness” belongs as part of a broader “life-style-design” consulting profession, with professionals from many, varied backgrounds offering unique support to create an environment that drives a profound experience.
Dr. Barnathan considers this work, “the art of transformational design,” both the starting point of all lasting achievement, and his own, lifelong passion.



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