As a strength trainer, Lisa Ciaravella has worked with many well-known professional athletes, such as basketball great Sandy Brondello and National Football League standouts Randy Moss and Cris Carter.
For the seventh year in a row, Ciaravella is also the strength and conditioning coach for the two-time Womenâ€™s National Basketball Associationâ€™s Eastern Conference champions Connecticut Suns.
Now sheâ€™s also a business owner, recently opening Phoenix Physical Therapy and Sports Performance Center on N.C. 16 in Denver, across from Turbyfill True-Value Hardware.
The public will get to check out Ciaravellaâ€™s center 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
â€œI thought thereâ€™s no reason that someone canâ€™t provide the same services to the general public that are provided to professional athletes,â€ said Ciaravella.
When she wasnâ€™t with the Suns, her off-season home was in Charlotte.
â€œI wanted someplace I could drive to,â€ said Ciaravella. â€œThrough my market research, Denver was a growing area with nothing like Phoenix close by.â€
Competition is no stranger to Ciaravella when it comes to her business or being a strength and conditioning coach for a highly successful WNBA team.
â€œMy primary job is to make sure everyone on the team is healthy,â€ she said. â€œHealthy is not just feeling good, itâ€™s feeling great.â€
As with her clients at Phoenix, Ciaravella takes a proactive approach with injury.
â€œWeâ€™re one of the best teams in the WNBA,â€ she said. â€œWeâ€™re the team to beat.â€
Ciaravella added that with the start of the seventh season, she is the longest-serving strength training coach in the WNBA with â€œa team thatâ€™s the most in-shape and competitive.â€
Ciaravella said she knew what kind of competition she was up against when she opened her business about two weeks ago.
â€œThey include area doctors through their medical offices,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s not about medicine, itâ€™s about living better as well as teaching people about how their body works. Itâ€™s about preventing injury in the future and how to be better and stronger.â€
Instead of being a medical-type practice, Ciaravella wants her clients to feel inspired.
â€œWeâ€™re using the same equipment that the professional athletes use,â€ said Ciaravella. â€œPeople are also using the trainer that these athletes use as well.â€
Ciaravella added her goal is to get her clients to live on their own better.
â€œItâ€™s an opportunity to give Denver something special,â€ said Ciaravella. â€œThis is something that has been very elite in the past, but Iâ€™m trying to provide services for people who can really use them.â€
Those services include physical therapy, massage and workout equipment.
One piece of equipment â€“ a machine called MRM or Muscle Recovery Machine â€“ gently osculates muscle tissue and helps to milk the muscles, getting toxins back into the blood flow and out of muscles according to Ciaravella.
â€œWeâ€™re the first facility in the nation to have an MRM,â€ said Ciaravella. â€œWhile this machine is widely used in Europe, itâ€™s just now coming to the United States. It helps to relax the nervous system.â€
Several items at Phoenix Physical Therapy and Sports Performance Center are donated by professional sports teams.
One is the two lateral 36-foot rock walls that cover an entire wall of the 3,050-square-foot facility.
â€œThe wall is from the Phoenix Suns,â€ said Ciaravella. â€œKids love it and itâ€™s a great teaching technique for balance, which is the backbone of everything we do.â€
The Miami Dolphins also gave Ciaravella an Olympic lifting platform as well.
While not available for the interview, business partner Amy Nelson is Phoenixâ€™s golf specialist.
â€œSheâ€™s certified, along with about 50 other people nationwide that deals with golf injuries,â€ said Ciaravella, who added another reason for picking Denver was the proximity to 88 golf courses within a 30 mile radius.
Proximity to NASCAR teams is another reason Ciaravella chose Denver. She hopes to garner clients from that sport as well.
â€œWeâ€™re a perfect facility for NASCAR pit crew teams,â€ said Ciaravella. â€œWeâ€™re located a mile up the road from six teams.â€
Along with Wilson, Mary Guinard serves as media relations manager for Phoenix and Tatum Robinson, who handles physical therapy.
â€œResponse has been good so far,â€ said Robinson. â€œEveryone thatâ€™s come in has been impressed and excited. Itâ€™s something very different from what is around.â€
The open house will be 5:30 – 8 p.m. Thursday and will feature an appearance by three-time Olympic medalist Sandy Brondello, as well as free chair massages, food and drink and live demonstrations. For more information call (704) 483-0777.
by Jon Mayhew