In what part of town do you live?
I live in South Miami, in the Dadeland Mall area.
How long have you lived in the area?
The last three years. Before that, we bopped around a few cities, Atlanta, LA. But, I grew up in Miami, in the Kendall area, right by Baptist Hospital.
Did you always think you’d stay here or did you expect to come back?
I’ve always loved Miami, but I never really thought about it. I didn’t know it was gonna happen. I went to undergrad at the University of Miami. My father’s a professor there. So, that was a good setup for me. Then, I let nature take its course and something kept bringing me and Noah back to Miami.
What does your father teach?
He teaches molecular biology and embryology. He’s a molecular biologist. He teaches in the graduate program on the medical campus.
What keeps you busy during the week?
I’m a physical therapist. I graduated with my doctorate from the University of Miami in 2021. I work at a physical therapy clinic called Pilates in the Grove. It’s a fun boutique fitness space where we offer Pilates classes, one-on-one Pilates, and we offer physical therapy services. I see people with any orthopedic condition. We also have a special class for neurological conditions. We have some individuals who have Parkinson’s or maybe had a traumatic brain injury and we work with the Pilates equipment to help rehab.
Has Physical Therapy always been a doctorate program?
You can practice without a doctorate if you received your degree in the past. Moving forward, it’s only a doctorate.
What led you to Physical Therapy?
In undergrad, I was interested in health sciences and I ended up studying public health, which I really was passionate about. I started working in healthcare marketing. While it was fun, I realized that I wanted the interaction with the patient or client who needed services. I wanted to be more present in making that happen, not just behind the scenes, helping them find a clinician. I was in sports medicine and healthcare marketing at the University of Miami. I ended up working with our physical therapy department a lot and loved it. I started staying after work. They had a pro bono clinic there that was physical therapy student led, and I would stay and hang out. Really just by being around it all the time, I really started to enjoy and see how beneficial it was for everyone.
What did you love about it?
I love working with people. I think it’s so special to spend that one- on-one time with someone and figure out what’s important to them so that I can create a program or rehab plan that is suited to get them back to what makes them happy, without pain. I’m really passionate about that connection with my patient and the fact that I get to work with someone for 50 minutes. In most healthcare settings, you don’t get to build that sort of rapport, because you only have a certain amount of time that you can spend in the room with someone before you have to see your next patient. With physical therapy, you really get to build that bond and get to know someone and help them on a level that’s so individual.
What lessons did you learn from your dad that helped you with PT?
If I didn’t understand something, like on the molecular level, which doesn’t always carry over in PT, we would have conversations. I would share the more macro level, ‘see with our eyes level’ of what’s going on, and he would try to explain to me cellularly what’s going on. It didn’t always stick, but it’s always nice to be able to call in and ask him – Hey, what do you think about this idea with tendon regeneration or something along my work.
What’s keeping you busy outside of work?
Completing my Pilate certification. That’s been super fun and a very time consuming, but rewarding experience. I love fitness myself. I’m often in the gym. I do CrossFit at Peak360 in South Miami. When I’m not in the gym or working out myself, I tend to be hanging out with my fiancé, my friends, my dog Max, and exploring South Miami. We’re big foodies and are always at a new restaurant, trying some food out, counteracting that fitness, keeping our lives balanced. We try to spend some time at the beach paddle boarding whenever we can. We’re enjoying all that Miami has to offer, like going down to LNB Grovestand every weekend.
How did you discover LNB Grovestand?
At the Pinecrest farmer’s market. We used to go there every weekend. We fell in love with our Rainbow Smoothies. I love to see you all thriving in your new space. I’m excited for you to build it out more.
What do you pick up when you come?
Always a rainbow smoothie and a Turmeric bagel with scallion cream cheese. And, I’m obsessed with star fruit, so we usually grab a few.
What other spots do you go to often that you can recommend?
For like a quick lunch or coffee, we love Joanna’s marketplace in South Miami. Also in South Miami, Whisk is a good spot for dinner. It’s like Southern comfort food. We also like Raw South.
What about a for a special occasion?
We usually go to the Wynwood or Design District area. I love Michael’s Genuine.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
Nothing feels like a secret to me anymore. Everything we find, we just all go together with a group of friends. But, I love Wynwood. I think it’s so eclectic, and walking around and seeing all the art and little shops with local style gifts is really fun.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
I love to get a massage and take care of my body a little bit.
What community groups or events are important to you that you might like to promote or share?
Right now, I’m running a Pilates reformer class that is a fundraiser for The Barnyard, which is an organization in the Grove that helps provide aftercare activities to children in the Grove. That has been very fun for me and I’m just starting to get more involved with them.
Is there a pitch about your practice or anything else that’s close to you that you would like to share?
If anyone has anything going on with their body and feel like they want to perform a little better, move a little easier, or need an assessment, they can definitely come see me. I’d be happy to help.
What question challenge or words of advice would you like to pose to the community?
How can we spend more time outside and make our community more inviting in the outdoor spaces, like we see in New York and Atlanta with their long outdoor parks? What are some things that we can do to make our outdoor spaces in the more suburban areas more friendly places to hang out?
What question would you like to ask us?
(JF) Do you have anything exciting in the works that you want us to know about?
(A+W) No big announcements this week. Other than it’s a Turmeric Cookie Weekend!
How can readers be in touch?
Social media would be the best. My Instagram account is @JoannLeigh And, I’ll throw in a little plug for Noah too. If you are interested in the CrossFit world, you can check out my partner’s CrossFit posts at @Nohlsen
Do you ever work with Noah on injuries and things like that?
Yes, but we try to keep a healthy boundary. If there’s a long term thing, he won’t see me every week. But, he does come to my Pilates community class. If there’s something going on with his body, we’ll talk it through it and I’ll try to help him figure out the best way to go about it.
Serendipitously, last week we interviewed another Physical Therapist and next week we are interviewing a PT student. Is there a question or advice that you suggest we ask him?
Awesome. It depends where he is in his PT journey a little bit. Keep an open mind. You never know what you’re gonna fall in love with on your rotation. In PT school, we get exposed to all sorts of different physical therapy avenues. There’s so many populations that you can help. It’s nice to keep an open mind and realize that that all the specialties are intertwined in some way. No matter where you are on your rotations, you’re gonna get a lot out of it. Tell him to feel free to contact me if he has any questions.