Simple Not Easy: Building An Injury Rehab Empire For Endurance Athletes With Chris Johnson

 

Being an entrepreneur is a challenge that not everyone is up to. As the saying goes, it’s “Simple, not easy.” This is especially true when you’re building yourself up as an authority in such a clearly-defined niche as injury rehab for endurance athletes. Chris Johnson joins Aaron LeBauer to discuss some of the specific challenges he has encountered along this journey. Together, they discuss the challenge of translating high-level information into something more accessible for the masses; the difficulty of putting a pin on what physical therapy actually means; the challenge of putting out content online; and more. There is a lot of good information to pick up from this conversation. Stick around.

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Simple Not Easy: Building An Injury Rehab Empire For Endurance Athletes With Chris Johnson

My special guest is Christopher Johnson. Chris is a special guest of mine. I’ve been watching Chris’s videos. He’s probably pumped out more videos than me and everyone I know combined. Chris has educated people on running and drills. I’ve used some of his stuff to help my own patients. It’s been long enough that I had a great visit with Chris out in Seattle a few years ago and he’s a gracious host. Chris, thanks for coming back on the show. We did that interview a few years ago, and I wanted to catch up with you. I’m stoked for now.

I appreciate you having me on and it’s nice to break up the day. I finished a run on the treadmill after coming out of a deep, dark obese from the second vaccine. I feel I have some life in me. Your timing is impeccable.

I want to catch people up a little bit, but I don’t want to spend too much time on it because you can go check that. We did the CashPT Cribs episode where we were just hanging out and I started interviewing you. Can you give people a little overview of what do you do? Who do you help with t now? What you’re most passionate about?

I suppose I’m a washed-up master’s athlete at this point but I am a husband to my incredible wife, Mimi who makes all this stuff possible. I have two young kiddos and there are 2 and 5 and they’re our trip. They keep us busy these days. I’m an entrepreneur like so many people. I’m a licensed physical therapist and I dabble in a bunch of stuff. I grew up on the East Coast in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Western PA, and did my undergrad at the University of Delaware and stayed there. I was playing tennis throughout that time, dealing with multiple injuries and surgeries. That was my calling and I stayed in Delaware for PT school. From there, migrated North to the Big Apple in New York City. I spent roughly 11 or 12 years there. I met my wife, Mimi and we relocated to Seattle where she’s originally from.

Are you still treating patients, or are you primarily working through your online programs or with other therapists?

I have a bunch of irons in the fire. I do a lot of consultations. Sometimes that requires me to see people and follow up but a great example, a guy called and it was funny. He called my Google voice and I picked up. I was on the treadmill and that may sound strange that I would take that call. This is a guy who is a runner and a triathlete who’s dealing with an Achilles tendinopathy. That gives him confirmation like, “I’m talking to the right person.” This guy’s running as he’s speaking to me. He’s someone who is working with a physician and a PT in the area.

He’s spinning his wheels and he doesn’t want to go onto more invasive procedures or injectables. He said, “Do you help people like me?” I laughed. I said, “That’s all I do.” He, sure enough, made an appointment right away. He’s the classic patient that I see someone who is driven that running or triathloning is a passion of theirs. He doesn’t have a lot of time to fool around. I got the sense that this is a busy guy and he wants to connect with someone that he knows and trusts. He is going to have confidence in helping him address this problem.

Where did most of those people find you or someone referred them to you or are they looking you up on Google?

This person got to me through word of mouth, through someone that he knows, through a tri-group that he’s either a part of or it was affiliated with someone in the group. That person had a good experience, so I don’t do a lot of marketing outside of trying to create an unmatched experience when someone connects with me and to take care of them with white gloves. That was instilled in me during my time in New York City because I was working with a lot of high-profile people, but I try to apply that approach across the board. As long as someone is trusting me to help them, I’m going to run through a brick wall and make sure that they have a good experience along the way.

What I want to know is do you know your YouTube stats, because you’ve been making YouTube videos for a long time? I wonder, how many videos do you have? Are people finding you from them or are these resources you’re able to create for people these days?

TCLHP 170 | Injury Rehab

Injury Rehab: The challenge that we all face in putting out content is how to get people to stop scrolling. And if you get them to stop, you better deliver.

 

I’m sitting here, laughing and almost crying because I haven’t posted a video on YouTube for a few years. I started taking everything to Vimeo and that was a big mistake because I had 6,000 subscribers screwing around and putting videos up as a resource for people, especially patients and athletes who are trusting their needs to me. Maybe it appealed to folks, maybe they thought some of these exercises were a creative spin on things. I started doing everything on Vimeo, but I’m going to go back and start focusing on YouTube for a variety of reasons. I don’t think Vimeo gets the same viewership, but the quality of the videos are good and you can protect them in certain ways.

You put together some courses over on Vimeo, I think.

I’ve put together some courses. In the life of an entrepreneur, you try things, see what works, see what gains traction, and move on.

What’s been the thing that’s worked best for you over the years?

Consistency, it’s the same thing, whether it’s training, whether it’s physical therapy, just being consistent in auditing, and reflecting on what you’re doing. That people are rushing from one thing to the next and we don’t take enough time to reflect on things. If you don’t, you’re bound to repeat mistakes that you’ve made or to waste energy. I’ve been a student of movement in the research and trying to reconcile those things. What I see in the clinic versus what I read in the research, they don’t always line up one-to-one. In the research, a lot of the time by its nature will lag. That’s not good or bad, it’s a thing. Trying to say, “Why am I seeing what I’m seeing?” Is there a way to better manage this? It’s time-consuming and a lot of these journal articles are boring as hell but it’s important to read through them and try to digest them. You may not understand everything some of this stuff like a foreign language to me but the more I read it, the more I start to become proficient with reading and making sense of it.

You’ve been great at that over the years, digesting the research and being able to disseminated out to the physical therapy public. I’ve gotten a lot of benefit from some of the posts you’ve made in your group because I don’t have time to go research and think about how to do it, but I trust Chris. If he’s like, you should be doing these things, or this is what it’s saying and it’s inconclusive. I’m like, “It’s good. I appreciate that.” Is that something that you decided to start doing one day or how’d you figure it out like that?

We have all of these brilliant researchers and folks who are pumping out these studies. I feel because they’re technical in nature. It’s tough to broach if you don’t have some background or expertise on the topic. The unfortunate reality of that is their message gets lost in translation because these people are thinking on such a high level. It’s sometimes tough for them to get that message out to the people who would benefit from it. I try to take a lot of this information. You could call me a translational therapist, it’s to take that stuff, package it in a way that’s fun, playful but is telling a story so it’s sticky with people.

With Instagram now, maybe this is a function of being a young father. I’m trying to turn this stuff into a storybook and it’s amazing to go back and read stuff like Dr. Seuss. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! that is a book about life and entrepreneurial-ism. When you revisit this stuff later in life when you have a little bit more life experience and perspective, it’s incredible the cord that it strikes with you. A lot of this stuff is a culmination of everything, it’s time-consuming. I don’t think people realize that. Like what I put together, someone asked me one day, “How long did it take you to put that carousel together?” I’m like, “The quick answer is about three hours. The reality is probably 500 hours” because I had to go through a bunch of mistakes and I had to keep refining these exercises to get them to a point where they look crisp, the posts are concise. That’s a challenge that we all face with putting out content is people are scrolling and to get them to stop is a tough thing. If you get them to stop, you better deliver. I’m preaching to acquire here.

You’re preaching but we’re talking to thousands of people who are like, “I’ve thought I could put up a picture on Instagram and it’d get a bunch of likes. or I don’t know how to do it. I want to get a patient in, or how do I do these things?” What you’re sharing is invaluable, but the lesson that I’m learning is it’s not just the 30 minutes that it takes to put a post together. It’s the hours and years you’ve put in synthesizing making mistakes and figuring out what works for you clinically and does it match up with what other people say should be happening.

That is professionals and clinicians that we get tangled up in these formalities, which are all bullcrap to me. When you can put this stuff out in an easily digestible manner or you can write it in a 5th or 6th-grade level, the readership or the viewership will go up. That’s tough for people to come to terms with because they want to flex the fact that they have gone through a lot of this didactic training and they do have a deeper understanding of certain topics that other people don’t. If you know it, you should be able to boil it down that much further without being reductionist.

If you don’t take enough time to reflect on things, you’re bound to repeat the mistakes you’ve already made and waste your energy. Click To Tweet

Chris, when you write your content, whether it’s specifically for Instagram or even for Facebook, outside of your Facebook group, I want to know because you have a Facebook group for clinicians. Are you writing your content for patients or are you writing it for other clinicians? Do you have a focus?

It depends on where I’m putting it out, but nowadays I’m trying to write, I’m trying to speak to the public because they get pulled a million different ways and they end up results in inaction or they’re subscribing to things that are outdated based on what we know. I think with anyone that I work with, or interact with I’m always trying to follow the CFU, Check For Understanding first. I’m trying to speak more to the masses when I say, my avid endurance athletes.

That’s important because I want to bring this up. I have someone who I know, messaged me and was like, “Aaron, do you have an orthopedist or surgeon you recommend?” I was like, “Tell me more about what’s going on.” It’s like, “My hip hurts when I run.” I was told I have thin cartilage but I declined an MRI and I can’t have a steroid injection. “I need to be aware.” We chatted and I was like, “What’s going on?” “We might be able to help.” He was like, “I didn’t know. I could come to see you first.”

He had no clue. He could come to see me without her fully thought he had to go through this. In North Carolina, we’ve had direct access for over 30 years. When you’re telling me, you’re trying to speak to these endurance athletes, they need to know that we’re a resource, but probably 85% of them have no idea. They could come to see us first. Are you seeing this in your own experience where people are like, “I didn’t know, Chris, if you only told me I could see you?” I would’ve said, make an appointment for me? Are you seeing that?

It’s among an older generation who grew up where the doctor was a point person. I ended up consulting a lot of people in tech out here because it’s Seattle. I’ll tell you what a lot of the younger generations are very resourceful and they seek out who they think can troubleshoot with them and they don’t give a crap about anything else. When they do connect with you and provide that you form a good alliance. They’re with you. They don’t start hopping around, they don’t have time for it.

When I was living in San Francisco and I was working as a massage therapist, I had a handful of people say, “Aaron, I know when I tweak my back, I need to come to see you. I need to go see my massage therapist.” I’ve not had anyone say, “Aaron when I tweaked my back, I need to come to see you as a physical therapist.”

It’s weird. It’s like, “Why is that?”

I want to know is how do we change that on a cultural, global scale? We both know, and the people listening, if you came, see me or when you have back pain or knee pain, your outcomes are likely going to be better and less load on the healthcare system and less expense. We can all agree on that, but how do we change the culture around where do we go when we get hurt?

We make it readily apparent that we are well-positioned to be the first line of defense. I tell people, I triaged and troubleshoot. That’s what I do in certain instances, if someone comes in and they have a bone stress injury, I may be talking to them on the phone and say, “I would love to have you come and pay me and you need to go.” If you were my son, daughter, father, brother, yadda yadda, I would have you go see an orthopedist and let’s get imaging so we know we’re dealing with. This is barking like a bone stress injury, and we need to be a little bit more vigilant. It would be remiss of me to handle this any other way. Are we on the same page? It is a problem that the profession has to solve. We’ll get there, but we need to be a little bit more forthright in getting there.

Do you think it’s because people don’t know what we do or we do so many things? It’s hard to know what we do because you and I have treating patients in very different specialties. We still help people in the same way. There are people that do wound care and they do Neurotherapy. They go to your home and do oncology care and lymphedema. There are so many things we do. Do you think that’s the problem or is there something else?

TCLHP 170 | Injury Rehab

Injury Rehab: Physical therapists need to paint themselves as people’s best friends in healthcare.

 

What’s the definition of physical therapy?

Hot packs, leg lifts, and ultrasound is the joke I always make.

It hasn’t been defined. It’s not defined on any website that I’ve seen. If we don’t define our profession in what constitutes physical therapy, this is easy. Other people define it for us. We’re at the mercy of that. If I’m ruffling feathers, toughen up, I am a die-hard physical therapist and I pride myself in that. It cracks me when we do run into those instances. When you bring up the term physical therapy, they conjure up a red TheraBand, a hot pack ultrasound, and what a disservice to the profession.

When we got to the passive stage of being called physical terrorists, because to go back to PT school, that was in a joke about many years ago. We’ve gotten past that because no one said that in the last few years. I saw this guy’s posts, I don’t know what kind of shoulder surgery, some arthroscopic surgery. That therapist was yanking his arm defection. That was painful. The guy’s bracing against us. I can’t be good for people, but that’s what some people did maybe still do.

We had a Jen Shelton who is this character of a person. She’s a badass athlete a tough gritty woman. She was one of the keynote speakers at the Rising Tide event. The inaugural year we had it in New Mexico. She was the flower child born to run that would show up, hangover and win the race, and beat everyone. She was speaking about her experience in working with physical therapists and she said something that will stick with me for the rest of my life is, “Physical therapists are your best friends in healthcare.” That’s how we need to paint ourselves and there’s a science to it and there’s an art I liked that. We need to make a push and we need some badass marketers who are all huddling up to try and figure out not only what defines a profession, but our place in the healthcare system.

It’s funny, you’re talking about, she shows up, hungover. I got a guy who would show up to a cross-race and forget his shoes and went on Birkenstocks. You’re like, “Come on, he decided to wear shorts. He went in Birkenstocks.” I do think there’s a messaging issue. I don’t know if we can all agree. There’s so much in the fighting. I did this thing where I put up on Instagram, my definition of physical therapy. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I was like, “Physical therapists or doctors of movement and injury or pain it.”

When I put it up on my page, people who followed me were like, “Yeah.” I put up over on a physiogram and people were like, “No, we do all these other things.” I was like, “This is weird.” It shows there are this big disconnect and discord, in so many ways. Do you see how we as a profession transcend some of this bullcrap and focus on helping people and understand what we can do for them? It’s so powerful, some of the things you do and even people don’t know nationally, what we can do for people, but how do we become part of the conversation?

We need to look at what are the common denominators among people who are helping in serving the community who’s in need of physical therapy. One of the challenges that we face in our profession is we have a lot of smart people in the profession. Social Media, we run the risk of everyone’s trying to be clever and then have this sarcastic element to it. I check out, that’s why I’m not on Twitter. It’s people trying to one-up each other sometimes good conversations can be had don’t get me wrong. That’s what I sense. We look to the common denominators of what goes into quality care, not only what we think, but what the consumer thinks.

I’ll put up a post. When people come to see us, they want us to shut up and listen. They don’t expect us to do anything to people because of the whole coding and billing world, that there’s an impetus for us to do things to people. That sets the stage for trouble. We should be charging for our time, not billing all these random units, like the person was with me for 30 minutes or an hour or 45 minutes. There’s a massive overhaul, that needs to be done. These are big, slow-grinding gears. We will get there but it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s going to require a very concerted effort. The other thing that’s tricky with the professionals, there are a lot of people who are part of the APTA and there are a lot of people who aren’t. I was a part of the APTA for a while and I haven’t been for a variety of reasons and maybe that’s a mistake on my part. I try to at least be a resource for people in representing the profession in a positive way.

My next question is because you’re specialized in performance running, triathlon Ironman stuff, are you seeing anything in that demographic of people whose patients you’re working with or people that are coming to you for help? Specific things that they’re asking for that they’re not getting from their performance coaches or other trainers I’m sure you have a good pulse on, what’s the gap? You’re able to help them close between my cycling, swimming, running coach, and going to the orthopedic surgeon, or finishing or getting a PR. You have a good sense of, what are they saying is the gap that they’re coming to you for?

To define physical therapy, we need to look into what constitutes quality care – not only what we think, but what the consumer thinks. Click To Tweet

It’s indecision in lack of communication. I work with a couple of coaches and the best coaches in the world, reach out when they have questions and they say, “I’m running into this issue with an athlete.” I wanted to pick your brain and get a lens into, what your thoughts are? What the considerations are? because I feel I’m a little bit hand-tied and is out of my jurisdiction. That’s why they’re a high-caliber coach. That’s why they have all pros on their rosters because they know when they’re on-topic and when they’re off-topic. When they’re off-topic, they reach out to someone that they think has command of the space that can troubleshoot with them. People don’t identify with point A is, and they don’t understand someone’s past medical history.

If you’re a coach and you don’t take someone through some battery of physical performance tests to get a lens into what point A is, and you don’t understand someone’s past medical history and you start tinkering with their workloads, you’re up crap creek. If someone has a history of an Achilles tendinopathy and they’re a master-level runner and you fail to identify that they may have some calf weakness, their performance is going to suffer, it best. They very likely could go on to deal with the recurrent injury because you aren’t even aware of the fact that this person could have deficits in their sole strength of 30% and above. We all appreciate that the longer you’re on this earth, that you’re going to be dealing with something in the form of past medical history, and you need to unpack all those things.

That takes someone checking their big ego at the door though, doesn’t it?

Yeah, that takes a lot. When I first start working with someone, if it’s from a coaching standpoint, I say, “I want to talk to you a couple of times or have a couple of chats with you.” Those could be 45 minutes to an hour. I say, “I’m not going to do any coaching yet, but I want you to show me what you would put down left to your own devices for the next 2 to 3 weeks.” We start approaching it from the funnel. We slowly distill things down until we agree on what the target is. We follow that because that target is always moving. It’s like, you’re going through life. I was talking to an athlete and her best friend died. “Target move.” You have to respond quickly to and be nimble. Good coaches allow them will start to learn from the coaches that I speak to who reach out when their athletes run into trouble. They’ll start to develop a little bit more of a refined sense when an athlete’s around muddy water, which is something that I need to be a little bit more vigilant in monitoring, and if it’s a green light, have a had it.

I want to ask you a couple of other questions, a little bit different, but so hopefully my train of thought makes sense to people. I want to know, if you were to go back to Chris Johnson at age 28, you were running at when you were younger?

I was running around New York City, like a teenage boy.

If you go back and tell Chris at 25 to 28 years old about how to run faster, better, longer, what would you tell him?

It became abundantly clear when I connected with Mimi, who’s my wife. That’s when my performance started to take off and I’ve always trained consistently. I had one of those Holy crap moments for better, for worse when I was 18 or 19, where an orthopedic surgeon said, “If you put on 10 to 15 pounds of body weight, you’re going to need knee replacements when you’re 35.” That was one of those, I can’t screw around. I always trained consistently, so that was never the problem. I always prioritize sleep. My friends used to call me grandpa in college. That changed a little bit, when I got to New York, I was probably burning the candle from both ends a little bit.

When I met my wife and we started getting serious, we would be in bed at 10:00. She’s incredible with food. I’ve always prioritized fueling and having health and balance. At that same time, I had resigned from my post where I was working at Lenox Hill Hospital and Dr. Nicholas has practice. That’s when I blossomed as an athlete, an entrepreneur, a friend, a person, and that’s a tricky balance to strike. I won’t say that I’ve done it perfectly since then. You take these wellness factors saying, “Go simple, not easy.” We get tugged a million different ways and you’re always chasing gravy. The train is an entrepreneur. That’s when it became clear because I went and did a half Ironman in Florida and ended up going, I think 3rd or 4th, and qualified for half Ironman World Championships. That was the first time I legitimately came in under five hours. I was right around that age I think it was 28.

I look back and go, I should have been fueling on the bike differently with real food. I was sponsored by Clif Bar’s coming out my ears and I’d finished rides hungry. On five-hour rides, I wasn’t eating real food, little sandwiches and rice cakes, and all that stuff. In my offseason training, I wasn’t optimizing, movement and strength. I was just lifting in the gym like I learned in high school, but it was mostly the food. If I go on a four-hour bike ride now, I don’t come home hungry. I come home satisfied and not needing energy. I think that was a huge thing for me.

TCLHP 170 | Injury Rehab

Injury Rehab: As an entrepreneur, you tend to get tugged in a million different ways. It’s a tricky balance to strike.

 

As an endurance athlete, especially once you start getting to work over 90 minutes to 2 hours when I program for people, I am always putting notes in there and where I have gaps, I reach out to a couple of nutritionists and RDs that I know.

It was the homemade, rice cakes and granola bars that I started making. It was several years ago when my wife and I decided she was like, “You got to do the paleo thing with me for a month.” I was like, “Whole 30 for a month? What am I getting you to on the bike? I had to make my own stuff. I should have been eating this when I was racing seriously, instead I was eating tofu and pasta and rice-a-roni and all the junk.”

You get too old, too soon, and smart too like Mike Tyson.

Is there anything, whether it’s treating patients or in your business that you look back and go, “I should have been doing this a little sooner?”

I started doing video around that time and a lot of people get bottlenecked in their attempts to put content out in the online space. I would say, “Don’t worry about critics, put stuff out and try to think about the challenges and the problems that people face that they speak to when they’re reaching out for your services and have that form the basis or the theme of the content that you’re putting out. As you do, you’ll self-optimize and you’ll get better and more efficient and more polished with this stuff.” That’s the main thing. Don’t worry about the grammar police. I took a lot of English courses as an undergrad and I’ve always enjoyed writing, but have fun when you write in, let go of the formalities. The last thing someone wants to do is be spoken to Charlie Brown’s teacher talking, so have fun with it and work your narrative into there.

You and I grew up probably roughly around the same time. In the last post I put on Instagram kid and play, a lot of people may not know who kid and play are, but if they don’t after that post, they’re going to read it. If they do know, they’re going to laugh. That’s, what’s fun. I hear a lot of people talking about imposter syndrome nowadays, you can’t be an imposter to yourself. If you work your story and your narrative into this, no one’s creating some mystical, magical exercise. People think I do that. I’m sure there’s someone, that’s been underground for 500 years. It was doing a lot of these moves that I’m putting on Instagram or social media. Don’t worry about being an imposter, but work your story and your narrative in, and that’s how you avoid doing that.

That’s 100% true. That’s a great point to make is that people don’t care. It’s the inaction of waiting for it to be perfect that is going to keep us from making progress rather than doing it and putting the video out there and writing it and not worrying about it. Chris, you’ve got The Runner’s Zone and a Facebook group, can you tell me a little bit about those resources that you have and who are there for, and what they do?

The Runner Zone was born out of necessity probably similar to you. You have a lot of people reaching out and asking you different questions about setting up a business, “Do you set this up as an LLC? A PLLC?” depending on what state you’re in. “Where do you start with website stuff? What about a podcast?” I was having a lot of people reach out, mainly clinicians, but clinicians, coaches, and even passionate runners and endurance athletes. They kept firing all these questions, and I want to do my best to follow up, but you get to a point where you can’t keep up. The Runner Zone was born out of necessity, and it was premise about trying to have a tight-knit community and to make sure that I knew everyone in that community. That was a decision I made with these Facebook groups.

To back up, The Runner’s Zone is a membership platform with a private Facebook group attached to it. It’s an active group, which is an understatement. We have clinicians, coaches, RDS physicians, we have that discipline covered, and these are people from all over the world. It’s a unique community. We’re very much on the pulse of things because we have people who are in the trenches, working with runners across the injury to performance spectrum. We also have people who are in the research space, who are privy to information that’s going to be published soon, and they already know what the results were. We try to fast-track people and help them get positioned as a go-to resource in their community. It’s fun to watch a lot of other people take off who have been a part of this community. It’s going on for five years now.

It’s been helpful for me, when I was participating in it, at least when I was treating patients a few years ago, it was a great resource. I haven’t been treating patients in a few years. I would like to think that my brain still works and that can still see problems. It’s one thing that I’ll go and like treat my staff and be like, “My brain has to start working again in this mode. This is zoned in my brain has to start working again, but it was an awesome resource.” It’s great if someone wants to check it out or go find out more information about it. Where should we send them? What’s the best place for them to go?

There is a lot of backstage messiness to being an entrepreneur that no one sees and it always hits at 5 o’clock on a Friday. Click To Tweet

To my website ChrisJohnsonPT.com and click The Runner Zone. It’ll give you an overview of what’s entailed. You and I were talking about that, you helped spawned that thing. When you try and get something like this up and running, you’re going to run into some roadblocks and some kinks and you need to stay persistent until you get it done. People never see the back end of this stuff. Sometimes I’ll go there and people say, “None of the lesson plans are up.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” For some reason, they may do an update with the theme on my website and it doesn’t carry over. I have to go in and upload them again. This is a messy backstage to being an entrepreneur that no one sees, it always hits it like 5:00 on a Friday.

Tell me about it before we got on the show, I was like, “The link to the CashPT blueprints go into the old WordPress website and it’s broken. What’s going on?” I have to send this to my team, “Someone help.” They’re like, “We can’t get into the back end because you have the password.” It is it’s messy, but you keep doing it.

You get better at troubleshooting. It’s empowering when you have command of a lot of these systems. You don’t have to always farm stuff out, but know when to farm things out.

What’s next for Chris Johnson? Where do you see yourself in five years? Are you working because you’ve had an app, you got this membership site, you treat patients, you’re training for something again, what’s on the horizon?

I want to help other people across the injury to performance spectrum, and open doors, and redefine what the standard of care is when you’re working not only with endurance athletes but people in general. My main goal now is to try and get the stuff out to the masses. I’ve zoomed in on who my ICA is and now it’s speaking to them and trying to learn as much as I can about their struggles and the experiences that they’re going through. I can problem-solve with them and that’s what we do as entrepreneurs. We figure out ways to problem-solve with people and no solution, no problem.

That’s why I see their similarity between me as a clinician, as an entrepreneur, all I’m doing is problem-solving with people. It’s like, “Show me a problem. Let’s figure it out together.” I got one more question for you. Is there something I haven’t asked you that you think is important to share?

I’m 42. I work with a brilliant coach, in someone who I’ve known for a while. She and I grew up in Pittsburgh. Her brothers were well-known football players in Western Pennsylvania. She and I had been working a lot together and she was brilliant because we were in the same fifth-grade class. She’s become this brilliant. I’ll let her describe herself, but you can go to her website and check it out. We have spent a lot of time refining my story. I put my about section together and it took me this long to come to terms because there are a lot of things in my past that were dark, that I still am having to wrap my head and get clarity on.

I put that out and that’s been something interesting. I would encourage people to revisit your about section on your website because you never know who’s looking at that and come clean with your story and people know when you’re bullcrapping them. You want it to be accurate. You want it to embody who you are as a person, as a clinician, as an athlete, a coach. You want to talk about your struggles, the highs, and when you do that, it’s going to give you clarity on who you are and how to best move forward. That was fun. It’s been very liberating. I graduated from high school all over and I have the world at my fingertips.

Is there specific that working with her, you realize, “That’s important?” Is there something that you glossed over or been putting aside that is a pivotal piece for who Chris is and how he relates to people?

It’s speaking to the truth of matters, but without naming names. Certain times, you go through life and you screw this person. “What the hell were they thinking? Yadda yadda, let all that go.” You can speak to the experience, how that made you feel, what you learned from it and how it’s going to make you a better person moving forward. If we’re speaking to physical therapists, why that puts you in such a good position to troubleshoot with someone. Since I put up that about section, it’s been interesting. I’ve had literally in the past two weeks, 3 or 4 people reach out to me and they said, “I want you to know that I’m contacting you because I think we’d be a good fit based on your, about section.”

TCLHP 170 | Injury Rehab

Injury Rehab: At the end of the day, as entrepreneurs, the job of PT business owners is to solve people’s problems.

 

She warned me about that. I didn’t realize I’m like, “She’s probably right.” I saw it, I’d read the writing on the wall. I think that it is clinicians. We put up this website and we rushed to get it up there. Think about what you’re putting down on that website because if you say, “Go see Aaron or go see Chris,” what’s anyone in this day and age going to do, they’re going to go type in your name online because they want to start to demystify who you are. If you can start speaking to these things and give a lens into where you’re coming from and how you help people, they’re going to start to have confidence if you’re the best person to troubleshoot with them.

I couldn’t set it better myself. Chris, if someone wants to get in touch with you or to connect with you online, besides going to your website, is there a best place like Facebook, Instagram, somewhere else? Not Twitter, of course.

I’m active on Instagram. You can message me through there. I will do my best to try and follow up. I get to say, I get inundated. It’s a double-edged sword because I want to follow up. The easiest thing to do is to text me at (347) 721-6789. No one picks up out in Seattle, which is funny. I always laugh at this because of, “Brooklyn, who the hell is calling me from Brooklyn.” I put it out there because that’s easy. I can do voice dictation back. If I don’t respond, apologies, messaged me again, and say, “Chris, pick up your phone. You lazy bastard.”

I’m stoked to have you here would love to have come out to Seattle for another visit, but that’s not going to be possible for a little while. I appreciate you spending time with us and dropping some insights because I get a kick out of it because you’re incredibly interesting. You’ve done a ton of stuff for the profession. We go back 5 or 6 years and it’s great to catch up with you and get to “pick your brain” because there are some amazing things in there that, we didn’t even touch. Thank you so much. I appreciated.

I appreciate you having me on and it’s fun to watch your evolution and to see you going about your business, leaving no stone unturned. For people who don’t know you, that you look at things through a 360 degree lens and that’s a sign of a consummate pro. That’s a tricky thing to do because that’s not the norm. Kuddos to you. Thanks for having me on and I hope you and your family are well.

I appreciate it. Thank you. I hope you stay healthy and feeling better from the second vaccine because mine in few days.

I make sure not to call you on that day outside to hear your life.

I appreciate the kind words. Thank you so much. For Christopher Johnson and Aaron LeBauer, get out there, get curious, leave no stone left unturned because Chris certainly doesn’t either. We’ll see you guys on the next show. Thank you.

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About Chris Johnson

TCLHP 170 | Injury RehabI troubleshoot with avid endurance athletes across the injury to performance spectrum and help grow communities.

About The Author

Aaron LeBauer

Aaron LeBauer PT, DPT, LMBT started a 100% cash based physical therapy practice right after graduation. He's on a mission to save 100 million people from unnecessary surgery & enjoys helping passionate therapists build successful businesses without relying on insurance.

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