After trying to build his own body to become a professional tennis player, Josh Rifkin found a new passion he's using to help other athletes, including those who mainly participate recreationally.
The 2007 Homestead graduate and 2014 men's City Tennis Tournament champion saw his professional dreams end because of injuries, but he later found a holistic approach to health and fitness.
He recently opened Synergistic Body, 4930 Illinois Road. The website is synergisticbody.com.
Among a wide array of credentials, Rifkin, 32, is certified as a corrective and holistic exercise and high-performance kinesiologist.
“Holistic is not just looking at one component of health or fitness, not just strength, flexibility, nutrition or mentality, but all those things combined to create performance for life,” Rifkin said.
“It's a more integrated, functional way to train for the three-dimensional world we live in to improve our performance for life, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or you are gardening or you are a sport-specific athlete. It's about the tool we have to use every day to reach success and perform in anything we do, ... and that's our body.”
That means he's part trainer, coach and fitness guru, but with a whole-body approach. He specializes in tennis but can work with any athlete from golfers to pickleball players, from youth to high school, college, professional and recreational participants of any age, and also not necessarily sport-specific athletes.
“I have built an expansive toolbox which allows me to deal with any person coming in,” he said. “Do they need some body work and recovery, or do they need some on-floor flexibility and mobility work? Do they need some activation work? Do they need to train? Do they need performance enhancement? Anything someone wants to improve, I have a tool for.”
After his attempt to become a professional tour player, Rifkin took classes to study and learn physiology, including courses in massage therapy. He is always looking to grow as a professional and expand. He recently finished training in joint assessment and functional mobility and always looks forward to his next class.
An Ithaca College graduate with a degree in business management, Rifkin also works part time with high-performance players at Wildwood Racquet Club. He plays regularly and recently reached the City Tennis Tournament semifinals.
He started Synergistic Body in 2014 in Fort Wayne but closed the business to move to Austin, Texas, to work in a tennis academy as a coach and director of fitness for five years before coming home. He reopened Synergistic Body in February, excited to bring new techniques of coaching and training to Fort Wayne.
Mostly working one-on-one, Rifkin also offers team and semi-private lessons. Each private client receives a full-body assessment, and sessions are set up on an individual programming basis without requiring long-term memberships. Rifkin also offers training and performance consultations.
“My goal is to shift the perspective, the culture on what working out is,” he said. “What I'm trying to do is train performance for life. It doesn't matter if you are an athlete or a non-athlete, or have issues with energy and movement and getting up and down. How do you improve yourself to trickle into other pieces of your life? True performance training and even working out doesn't require you to be knocked down, throwing up, out of breath and in pain to train and that's a model I'm trying to shift. If you come in here to work out with me, you're going to work out, or better yet train, but you will be able to walk the next day.”
He said pain is usually a sign the person training may be doing something incorrectly. Working with him should not wear out a person but help progress their performances to move forward on the field or court or going back to work. His goal is to improve our individual “performance for life.”
“Pain is actually a sign to wake up a little bit and change something,” he said. “I'm not saying don't work hard, but I'm also saying rest hard, move well, do the right movements, and if this hurts when you do this but it's a good workout, then modify it. There's a reason why it hurts. Figure out what's going on with that and don't push through that pain.”