We had the good fortune of connecting with Sean Coleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sean, what role has risk played in your life or career?
People see risk as a gamble. But they are not the same. A gamble is made with understanding there is a possibility of loss based off a chance and a choice. A risk is about action when the loss can’t be “hedged” or negotiated. People are often forced to take a risk because their backs are against the wall. So the only way to lose when taking a risk is to not leap in the first place. Taking a risk and stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way we grow personally and professionally. As far as I can remember I have been breaking away from safety and maintaining a level of discomfort. When it came time to pick a high school, I chose a school none of my friends were attending so I could meet new people. I excelled in football, baseball, basketball and hockey but chose lacrosse as my sport in high school to embrace a new challenge. No one in my family attended college, I chose to get my doctorate in physical therapy. I left everyone I knew and traveled 3,000 miles to California with my fiancé in order to experience different cultures and perspectives. Most recently, I decided to switch over to a cash-based model of physical therapy with Thrive Physical Therapy in downtown San Diego. Having to prove your worth as a clinician is a risk. But it is something I felt strongly about in order to provide my patients with a higher standard of care. The previous risks I have taken did not always lead to a path paved in concrete, but my feet were toughened by them. Because when taking a risk there are no losses, only lessons.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been a physical therapist for 7 years and a strength and conditioning specialist for over 10 years. My brand of physical therapy blends to two concepts and allows me to help the athletic population in ways that were not available to me as a young athlete dealing. My PT career started in a sports clinic in my home city of Philadelphia called The Vincera Institute working with professional and high-level athletes. After practicing for almost 4 years, my fiancé and I decided to leave the northeast to travel the country doing travel therapy (she is an occupational therapist). As a traveling PT, I was thrown into uncomfortable situations and saw almost every setting a physical therapist can experience. A notion that had been brewing in my head for years was surfacing to a point that I could no longer ignore: our current model for physical therapy is broken. The retroactive concept dictated by in-network providers was becoming a road block for successful outcomes with my patients. Overworked, underpaid, and burnt-out would be an accurate description of most physical therapists at the same stage of their career. I worked extremely hard to improve my craft and slowly make connections that would lead me out of the standard “mill” physical therapy clinic. And I succeeded. In October of 2019, I began my career as a concierge physical therapist for an NFL player traveling the world to provide him with additional care separate from the team (this is common among professional athletes). My fiancé and I moved to Orange County, CA in March of 2020 so that I could build more connections with pro athletes training in LA. The sky was the limit. However, when COVID-19 put a halt to travel I was unable to continue that dream. I was forced to return to the clinical setting. I spent 3 months doing whatever I could to make money while interviewing for positions in local PT clincs. From babysitting to driving for Uber/UberEats. The void in the healthcare system left people unable to seek medical treatment for their ailments, so my friends and family began reaching out for medical advice. I started an Instagram account so I could just send the most commonly requested information to people with easier accessibility. A window of opportunity emerged. My Instagram account began to gain momentum and I started a business of online physical therapy and personal training. I found a new passion with cash-based physical therapy, no longer handcuffed by the restrictions and bureaucratic red tape set by insurance. The online business helped propel my fiancé and I through financial hardship initial, but then introduced me to other like-minded people who were doing the same. I found Thrive Physical Therapy in San Diego who’s passion and style matched mine. Looking back to my time spent in Philadelphia, I had always felt a drive to help more than high-level athletes. What about the high schoolers? What about Division III athletes playing for the love of the game or weekend warriors remaining healthy and active for their children? With Thrive, I am now allowed to take the same treatment style, hands on approach, and one on one care I was able to provide professional athletes and give it to an entirely new population in San Diego. To say my career has been up and down is an understatement. The risks I have taken, the trials and tribulations, and adversities have only made me discover new fire. I have learned that I am at my best when my back is against the wall. That the highs are never as high and the lows are never as low. I want people to see this message and know there is an answer to their problem. That pain or injury should never stop you from participating in what you love. And when you start working with me, your journey becomes my journey.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have been all over the country in the last few years. San Diego is one of the best cities in the country! There is something here for everyone. It has all of the best things to offer from beach towns to downtown life. We live in Pacific Beach so we love walking on the beach and to the bay. When people come to visit we always go for a hike either to Torrey Pines or Cowles Mountain. We had a great time taking friends for a kayaking trip in La Jolla caves and check out the seals and sea lions. The breweries in North Park remind me of some of the neighborhood breweries back in Philly and nothing beats Stone Brewery up in Escondido. A bonfire on the beach for the sunset (or Sunset Cliffs) is a go-to. But if we’re looking for night out we could get dinner in Little Italy or something casual in OB (we love OB Noodle House) before popping around to the local bars. Honorable mentions would be the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park! Petco Park is one of my favorite stadiums to catch a baseball game, too!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Fiancé, Jenna, has continuously pushed me out of my comfort zone since the day I met her. I can honestly say I would not be the man or professional I am today if it was not for her. Thank you for your support through this journey, you are and will always be my “why”.
Youtube: Thrive Physical Therapy San Diego