Tips From Greg Vanvakaris, DC, CSCS
Actress Annie Potts has had a long and successful career with credits under her belt that include the Lifetime series Any Day Now, and Designing Women. This feisty red head has been a health advocate for years, and since she nearly broke every bone in her body below the waist in a car accident at age 21, she has been experimenting with a number of treatments to keep her in shape and capable of handling her demanding acting career.
That's where fitness trainer and chiropractor, Dr. Greg Vanvakaris comes in. His expertise in both areas has made all the difference for Annie and other celebrities who need rehabilitation as well as regular exercise.
We asked "Dr. Greg" — as he is affectionately called — to share his unusual background and some tips on how he keeps Annie on the road to recovery:
Q: When you started out as a chiropractor did you have the intention of working with celebrities as a trainer as well, and if not, how did that come about?
A: I began my career as a personal trainer working with athletes and celebrities, gradually incorporating rehabilitation into their regimen.
I also worked in Adaptive Therapy (for stroke, Parkinson's, Muscular Dystrophy and Spinal Joint injury patients) and Cardiac Rehab and this sparked my desire to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.
As time went on, I applied knowledge from my Doctorate program to my clients, many of whom were celebrities. Celebrities not only have to look fantastic but must endure many physical stresses on the job — some being as simple as sitting in a make-up chair for 4 hours (try just fifteen minutes with your head tilted and you'll see how much tension develops) to very long dance rehearsals and multiple stunts over and over until the director gets the shot.
Having already established a trustful relationship with them, a natural evolution of private training client to chiropractic patient developed.
Q: How hard was it initially for Annie to get back in shape after the accident?
A: After her initial accident and injuries (which were suffered years and years ago), she did a lot of Physical Therapy, yoga and swimming until she got to a point in her life where she felt she could do strength training.
It's always best to find someone whose knowledge and experience you trust, that way working together as a team with a common goal, a lot of the trepidation and fear will go away.
Annie was an excellent candidate for chiropractic and has maintained her state of health and fitness with a committed regimen of exercise, proper nutrition and chiropractic care.
Q: What is Annie's daily nutrition regimen?
A: Annie eats 4-5 small meals a day that are balanced with the proper ratio (for her body) of carbohydrates to protein to fat.
Q: How did you come to treat Annie Potts?
A: Annie was a training client of mine for years before I got my Doctorate degree, so when I started practicing, she became my patient as well.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in training her?
A: The biggest challenge occurs when Annie has an acute flair-up in her arthritic ankle. They usually last between 2 and 7 days and can be extremely debilitating and painful for her.
A cross-training weight routine (which keeps stress off her ankles), along with swimming (for cardiovascular and respiratory fitness) works very well for her.
Annie does not let her pain override her will to stay healthy and fit.
Q: How important is exercise when having chiropractic treatment?
A: It's always important, but if you are undergoing chiropractic treatment for an injury (as opposed to treatment for prevention), the type of exercise will vary from simple to complex movements.
Exercise restores tissue strength and integrity and prevents new injuries from occurring. In the treatment process, muscular balance is extremely important in order for adjustments to hold longer and for all the joints to be safer.
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