For years, Philadelphia has been on the cutting edge of health. We have some of the nation’s finest hospitals and health centers. We have programs focused improving diet and lifestyle in neighborhoods. We have entrepreneurs starting businesses with new twists to personal training, swimming, yoga and beyond. And in these important fields, young people are helping Philadelphia thrive.
Every month, we publish an edition of Who’s Next, presented by the Knight Foundation, that focuses on a different industry or field. Over the last two years, we’ve honored more than 250 individuals in fields ranging from law to politics to chefs and restaurateurs. This time, the focus is on health. Whether it’s through managing fitness activities at the gym (or on location), caring for patients at our major hospitals or improving people’s mental health, these young Philadelphians are shaping the well-being of this city’s residents. Here are this year’s 13 Health and Fitness winners, in alphabetical order.
A few years ago, Feeley began teaching one woman the ins-and-outs of powerlifting. Now, she’s a coach of 12 women who call themselves “Katie’s Ladies,” easily the largest women’s team in the area. They do powerlifting, Olympic lifting and strongwoman. Some of them compete at the national level. Feeley’s personal training career has followed a similar upward trajectory. Since 2015, she’s owned Power Plant Gym in Aston, focusing on lifting, strongwoman and Crossfit. Feeley, who is also a strength coach for athletic teams at Widener University and Philadelphia University, went to college thinking she’d one day run political campaigns. Instead, she’s crafted a career in coaching. “It turns out that training women,” she said, “is what I really like to do.”
With three friends from graduate school, Gardner is co-owner of Philadelphia MFT, a couples, family and sex therapy organization located in Center City. She deals with everything from LGBTQ relationships and issues to sexual trauma and dysfunction to couple and pre-marital counseling. On the side, she leads lessons as a Flywheel instructor. Gardner always has a story she share with her patients and clients when they’re going through hard times. At 25, she suffered a heart attack after finishing a tune-up race while training for the Broad Street Run. Doctors discovered she a genetic defect, and she was outfitted with a stent. Flywheel lessons helped her get through the grueling rehab and an ensuing bout of depression. “I went from active and healthy to not being able to carry a purse or walk around Target,” she said. “To go through that to teaching indoor cycling classes definitely connects me better no matter what.”
Gottesman works on the first floor of Hahnemann to start a gender reassignment surgery program. Additionally, she also works with patients who have underwent gynecological surgeries and those with liver failure. Last year, as Hahnemann became a union hospital, Gottesman took an active role. She’s the vice president of the local chapter of the union, PASNAP, and helped with negotiations and selecting an executive board for the group. “I'm a pretty new nurse to be doing that in the grand scheme of things,” she said.
While working for CID Entertainment shortly after graduating Drexel, an idea came to Greenwald: bring yoga to the people. Her company On the Goga, established in 2015, now teaches companies and individuals on site with personalized lessons and focuses on mindfulness as much as striking the perfect yoga poses. As she puts it, “We're not aiming to create an army of kale-eating super-employees. Our job is simply to help companies build an authentic and engaging wellness culture around the understanding that you've already got everything you need to be the best version of yourself.” Clients and partners have included Temple, Eagles athletes, Benjamin’s Desk, The Food Trust and Greensgrow Farms. The company is working with a third-grade teacher at Global Leadership Academy Charter School in West Philly to introduce the students to yoga and mindfulness.
Long ago, it only took Harris one year of playing varsity football to establish himself as one of the East Coast’s best wide receivers before going on to a standout career at Temple and in the Arena Football League. He’s jumped into a career in personal training with similar devotion the last several years. Harris first worked as a personal trainer and has recently become the Regional Training Director for SWEAT Fitness. He’s the guy who leads and supervises the people who lead everyday members in their workouts at SWEAT gyms.
Kaufman Strauss, a natural foods chef and holistic health coach, knew how busy life was for her and all her friends (it’s only about to get more hectic for her as she is close to having her first child) and came up with Grateful Plate as a solution. Grateful Plate offers clients delivery of healthy, prepared meals weekly. The menu changes seasonally and based on feedback from clients.
Philadelphia has more public swimming pools than any big city, and Waters and Leaman are doing everything they can to make sure the city’s population knows how to use them. They are co-owners of Fitness Alive, a company offering personal training and a swim academy catering to everyone from beginning children to advanced adults looking to train for races. Fitness Alive, which started in 2014, has 450 clients for swimming and 50 for personal training. Leaman is the chief operations officer, currently exploring ways to expand and build their own facility. She previously worked as the editor of the Philly Mag section “Be Well Philly.” Waters is the lead trainer and has swam all her life, including at Drexel. When not personal training or teaching swimming -- sometimes to five-month old children -- she’s an avid exerciser who has finished the Boston Marathon several times.
As owner of Healing Arts Center, Mavros manages two Philadelphia and two suburban locations and a team of eight practitioners. His specialty as an acupuncturist is infertility. Last year, Mavros started a pilot program offering free treatments for refugees, immigrants and staff at Nationalities Service Center. He and his staff plan to start offering the program on a regular basis this year.
In her role with the Public Health Management Corporation, Miller manages initiatives that focus on sexual and reproductive health and injury prevention through bike, pedestrian and driver safety programs. The Health Promotion Council is a subsidiary of PHMC; Miller focuses on healthy eating, active living and a tobacco-free lifestyle to help people manage and prevent chronic disease. She’s also organized the Fit City PHL programs and, with City Councilman Bobby Henon’s office, the youth program Philly Play. During the DNC last year, hundreds of local children participated in Philly Play events promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles.
Universal Companies is all about communities. And one way the company aims to improve communities is through advocating for healthy lifestyles. It’s Moss’ job to lead programs focusing on health and wellness for children. Outside of work, Moss co-founded the Influencing Action Movement, which sets up mentoring and networking programs for children and young professionals. She’s a board member for the Influencing Action Movement and Young Involved Philly.
O’Hearn opened Philly Phitness in 2013, and it has become the largest personal training studio in Philadelphia. The gym is entirely for one-on-training. His success in the field comes after originally working as an engineer and then going to Penn for med school. “Things just kind of fell into place,” he said. O’Hearn recently started volunteering for Back On My Feet Philadelphia, an organization combating homelessness through running, after his estranged father died O’Hearn discovered late in his father’s life that he had been homeless. Through his personal training work, he held a boot camp that helped raise $13,000 for Back On My Feet.
Pellegrino was getting burned out with her job as a social worker focusing on children and families but still wanted to help others through her work. She ended up co-founding Relentless Fitness with her husband, Roger Dickerman, and launching the children’s personal training program there in 2009. About 250 kids are enrolled in programs, coming from neighborhoods throughout Philly. "It was low in the beginning because parents weren't receptive to kids training," she said, "but now people are really finding a lot of value in that." Relentless Fitness supports local schools and parks by holding fitness assemblies and donating free classes.