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I don’t know if you have ever seen this Tedx Talk by Logan LaPlante on “Hackschooling”, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s about homeschooling with the ultimate goal of being happy.   Logan is a 13 year old boy who is homeschooled and so poetically, he states “Why is being happy and healthy not considered education.”

“So I’m starting to think, I know what I might want to do when I grow up, but if you ask me what do I want to be when I grow up? I’ll always know that I want to be happy.”

“Hackschooling” is taking advantage of opportunities in the community and through a network of friends and family to experience what the children are learning. “It’s flexible, opportunistic, and it never loses sight of making happy, healthy and creativity a priority”.

Essentially taking the children’s interests and schooling off of those interests with the available resources within the community and network. Exposing them to many different elements in the world, and real world experience, not just sitting in a classroom.

“We don’t seem to make learning how to be happy and healthy a priority in our schools… What if we based school on the study of being happy and healthy?”

Being happy and Healthy, according to Logan and Dr. Roger Walsh “Lifestyle and Mental Health”, being happy and healthy comes down to 8 things:

  • Exercise
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Time in Nature
  • Contribution and Service
  • Relationships
  • Recreation
  • Relaxation and Stress Management
  • Religious and Spiritual

These 8 things all have to all be personalized for each individual to help develop and nurture their creativity, ideals, and goals.

Right now “Much of education is oriented towards making a living, rather than making a life.”

Creativity needs to be nourished, encouraged and progressed, not suppressed.

I encourage you to watch this TEDx Talk, however this is not an article about our flawed education system and what type of schooling is best. I don’t know how I feel about home schooling vs public school vs private school vs other alternatives. Luckily, I have several years before I will have to worry about this.

This article is about applying these same principles on being happy and healthy to fitness and physical therapy, the hacking of these entities. My areas of expertise are physical therapy and fitness, so that is the focus of this article but these concepts and this mindset can be applied to many other fields as well.

Pick A Path to Happiness 

Let’s make learning and happiness the priority of what we do.


HappinessAs Logan describes in his talk, the ultimate goal with everything we do in life should be happiness. So the goal with physical therapy and fitness should be happiness. In reality, most people go to physical therapy because they are in pain or injured which is making them unhappy. Whether they are not happy because they are in pain, can’t move with ease, or can’t perform activities that they love, it doesn’t matter. Therefore, you can say that people go to physical therapy to get happy. However, I have never heard that as a goal from any of my clients when I worked in a physical therapy clinic.

I am probably more likely to hear it in a fitness or personal training environment, but that typically isn’t the goal either. With training it’s usually, “I want to look better” (this is a topic for another post, look out for it in the near future”). “I want to be bigger, faster, stronger.” “I need to lose weight.” “I need more energy.” “I want to get back into ‘shape’.”

However, all of these goals are ultimately chasing happiness but they don’t always accomplish happiness.

Why is this?

It’s because of the perspective at which we are looking at physical therapy and fitness. If we don’t look at them as achieving ultimate happiness, or give ourselves the goal of that, will we ever truly be satisfied?

We are stuck too much on short term and quick results. The problem with that is, that quick results don’t last. We get burned out. We can’t sustain such a high level of the extremes, whether it’s with training or eating. That’s why diets typically don’t work, or if they do work, it’s only temporary. Don’t call a diet, a diet, call it eating.


Don’t Subscribe to ONE System: Part A 

Don’t subscribe to one system, whether you are on the side of practicing physical therapist, personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, etc. OR on the side of the client, the one in training or treatment.

People who subscribe to one system limit their level of success whether from a business, treatment, or training standpoint. Use multiple facets of training to achieve the best results, such as physical therapy, personal training, nutrition, and yoga.


How I Am Incorporating these Concepts: Part 1

As a doctor of physical therapy, I have branched out from the norm to be able to work with clients the way I believe is best. Working on the whole body, really providing a personal training service as a physical therapist. Incorporating my knowledge of the human body and human movement to better train clients. This way, I can work with people prior to pain or injury and help avoid these issues. I can also perform any “physical therapy specific skills” needed to address pain and injuries, whether old or acute.

I always start out with addressing problematic mobility, movement and activation patterns; educating on how to perform movements properly. This enables my clients to be set-up for success, rather than just jumping right into higher-level movements that will set them up for failure.

Thoracic and Lat mobility

One of my immediate goals for my clients is to make them feel good, feel better, and move more easily. My goal is not to make them sore, especially early on. Then progressions ensue.   All of this has to be personalized for each client, though common patterns are seen, everyone has different tendencies.

Seeing positive results in this nature allows for long-term success and happiness. If people can move more easily, care-free, and pain-free then that helps lead to happiness.


Don’t Subscribe to ONE System: Part B

Don’t segment your training and treatments.

If you have pain or injury in one area of the body, don’t ignore the rest of the body.

Don’t wait for pain to go away, act on it quickly and the results are much better.

Why always separate?

Why not combine the best of many worlds? Why not incorporate physical therapy thinking into training and training thinking into physical therapy? And there are a ton of different kinds of training – powerlifting, Olympic lifting, physical therapy, high intensity training, yoga, aerobic, circuit, etc. As I have discussed in previous posts, it’s really all part of the same continuum. It’s just a matter of where you are on that continuum, weighing more heavily towards certain trains of thought and treatment/training techniques.


How I Am Incorporating these Concepts: Part 2

I have spent my first 4 years as a physical therapist in a traditional privately owned sports and orthopedic outpatient physical therapy clinic. Only working with those who are already injured.

Movement by Logan, Shaun Logan, Philly Personal Training

Philly Personal Training

Now, along with Movement by Logan, I am also spending a lot of my time working in a personal training studio in Philadelphia (Philly Personal Training). I am working primarily with “healthy” adults who are looking to get in shape. Some of my clients have some pain. Some are coming back from illnesses. Some have a history of ACL reconstruction, bariatric surgery, a brain tumor, or frequent patella dislocations. But they are all otherwise pretty healthy, and are all seeking personal training, not physical therapy.

I am now just seeing a different part of the same continuum.

I don’t perform hands-on manual “physical therapy specific skills” (besides tactile cues) with my “personal training” clients at Philly Personal Training, like I do with Movement by Logan. I am still providing all clients with my most important skill: My knowledge of the human musculoskeletal system, movement, injuries, and training.

Shaun Logan, Movement by Logan, half-kneeling

Teaching Split Squat

I don’t turn off the way I look at the human body and movement.  I break it down and build it back up. Though I am “training” every single one of my clients and they are not here for “physical therapy”, they are all doing exactly what I would do with them in physical therapy, and more. They are getting bigger and better benefits from working with me at Philly Personal Training or Movement by Logan, because I can truly combine all of my skills and knowledge.

Why can’t I address your knee or low back pain while strengthening your arms, shoulders, and neck? Why shouldn’t I be doing that anyway?

Isn’t it better to get to people before they are injured and in pain, or debilitated enough where they feel the need to go to the physician?

It’s funny because I have been training clients at Philly Personal Training for about 3 months now and one of the other personal trainers here, asked me yesterday, “Do you have anyone that you train or is everyone here for physical therapy”….



As a physical therapist and a fitness trainer, I am essentially an educator. Education does not only apply to school and getting certificates, credits, or degrees.

Hack the conventional thinking and categorization.  Figure out what you think works best and just do it, if you have the knowledge and skills.  Make sure you have an understanding of what you are doing, and learn along the way.

But just as importantly….Make sure you know your limitations.  (For Example: Do not try to treat an injury if you are not qualified.)

I want to provide the best product by hacking physical therapy and fitness.

I have to be able to break down movements. I have to continue to get better with cues and coaching (tactile, visual, and verbal – I use tactile cues all of the time with clients).

Learn from the experts in all different disciplines and take bits and pieces from each discipline to become a sort of hybrid working on a continuum to provide the best product for clients.

Be a teacher.

Don’t just tell them to do movements that don’t matter. Don’t let your physical therapist, coach, or trainer make you do movements that don’t matter.

Understand why they matter so you can then correct yourself in any environment, at any point to improve performance with everything we do.

That helps avoid pain and injuries. That helps keep people healthy. That helps keep people happy: clients, therapists, trainers, etc.

Hack Physical Therapy and Fitness Training.



All quotes and notes taken from:
TEDx “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” by Logan LaPlante, February 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY