About Active Recovery
The name “Active Recovery” perfectly sums up our therapeutic, sport, and exercise philosophies. Active recovery is a type of workout that involves performing low-intensity exercise to promote blood flow and muscle recovery to speed up the process of returning to pre-workout or pre-injury levels. Just like your car needs gas to drive you across town, your body performs at its best when you take the time to properly fuel and maintain it. After all, a body in motion stays in motion.
In regards to injury, there are very few instances in which complete rest is warranted. Wolff’s Law states that your bones will adapt to the load that is placed upon them. In other words, gradual loading is the process by which your bones remodel and become stronger. This cannot be done without the use of your muscles and other soft tissue structures, which – you guessed it – are getting stronger, too! The art of rehab is finding the line between injury and challenge and respecting it along your journey.
Meet Dr. J!
Jaleesa O’Neal, PT, DPT
Please just call me Jaleesa! For those of you that don’t know me, I grew up in East Jordan, graduating as a Red Devil in 2006. After high school, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Belmont University. Knowing I was passionate about sports and fitness, but not quite sure how to make that into a career, I earned a degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Athletic Training. In order to further my education, I moved back to Michigan to attend Grand Valley State University’s physical therapy program. In 2016, I graduated with a doctorate in Physical Therapy.
That same year, while eight months pregnant, my husband and I relocated to East Jordan to be near family. You may not know my husband, but if you’ve ever spoken with a bearded, southern man, likely at True Value… that’d be Jason. He’s from southern Mississippi, although he tries to claim otherwise. Jason and I welcomed our first daughter, Ensley, in June of 2016. In addition to the pull of family, I was motivated to return to Northern Michigan after student clinical experiences in this area. The draw of outpatient orthopedics in a small town offers variability as a clinician as the scope of resources can be limited. I see this as a built-in opportunity to continue to learn more, develop a network of local professionals, and promote patient and community education.
In 2019, our second daughter, Ezra Claire (yes, that’s her whole first name), was born. Ensley has affectionately nicknamed her Ezzie. #3 is on its way, due May 7th, 2023! As a family, we enjoy spending a lot of time outside – camping, hiking (Ensley’s longest hike is a 7 mile trip in the UP), and kayaking. My three younger siblings live in the area, so we spend a lot of time with my nine nieces and nephews, parents, and grandparents.
We are members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where our kids also attend school. Ensley is enjoying learning to read in First Grade and Ezzie is starting Preschool. I am currently serving on the East Jordan Chamber of Commerce and Jordan Art Walk committee, helping to promote art, tourism, and community mobility with the building of a sculpture park along our downtown waterway. Professionally, I am a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and Michigan Physical Therapy Association, participating regularly in Northern District events for continued education. I love the East Jordan community and appreciate the support our town has provided to us in making the dream of Active Recovery a reality!! I can’t wait to see you all at Active Recovery (for prevention, I hope!) soon.
Kristi Nowka, MS, AT, PTA
Real talk – writing this “About Me” is probably the scariest part of starting my own business. But let me start my story from the beginning.
I grew up in a small town downstate called Vassar. We have a dot on the map and a McDonalds, but that’s about it (sounds a lot like East Jordan!). I come from a big, loud, blended family, and being the youngest, I found my voice and love for sports very early on. In high school, I played almost every sport and spent a lot of time with our Athletic Trainer getting bandaged up or stretched before practices and games. Working with athletes, and only getting as dressed up as khakis, a polo, and running shoes sounded right up my alley. Needless to say, I had my mind made up long before graduation.
After high school, I went to Lake Superior State University in the UP, where I met my husband Steve. I left Lake State with a BS in Athletic Training and headed to Ohio University to complete my Masters in Kinesiology. In fall of 2011, I eventually moved to Northern Michigan and decided that if I wanted to continue in outpatient Physical Therapy, going back to school would be important; cue the Physical Therapist Assistant degree. (I’m done with school, seriously!)
I have been the Athletic Trainer at East Jordan High School since 2013. I wouldn’t trade small town life for anything, which is probably why I ultimately ended up in East Jordan. I’m also proud to serve our community as a member of the East Jordan School Board and on the Board of Directors for Training Wheels Childcare Center. Professionally, I’m a member of the APTA, NATA, MATS, and the MPTA. I have served as a member of the MHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee since 2018. Steve and I live right in town with our daughters Emma, Abby, baby Kate, born December 15th, and our dog, Holly. Like any other NOMI family, we love being outdoors – on the lake in the summer and playing in the snow during the winter. Sports are a big part of our lives, and I hope one day, our girls will love them as much as we do.
Working for myself has always been a dream of mine. Traditionally, physical therapy focuses on fixing a problem after it happens. And while that is unavoidable at times, at Active Recovery, Jaleesa and I have a passion for preventative wellness. Our mission is to educate our patients about their bodies, identify issues early, and fix them before they become real problems that force you to stop your active lifestyle. Getting ACTIVE, Being ACTIVE, and Staying ACTIVE are just some of our goals for you. We can’t wait to welcome you into the Active Recovery family!
Mary Gocha, AT, PTA
I’m Mary and excited to be back in Northern Michigan where I graduated from East Jordan High School in 2009. I went to Northern Michigan University where I got my Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training degree in 2014. After college I returned for a year before moving to Ann Arbor where I worked in Outpatient Physical Therapy for 5 years. In 2016, I received my Physical Therapist Assistant degree from Kent State University.
Things I love doing in my spare time are playing slow pitch softball, downhill skiing, kayaking, and metalsmithing. I’m excited to join the Active Recovery team!!
Active Recovery Culture
When deciding to start their own clinic, one thing for certain was that Jaleesa and Kristi wanted to be in the East Jordan community. Having collectively worked in this area for over 16 years, they have a love for this town and the surrounding area. Learn more about how their passion for physical therapy informs the culture of Active Recovery.
Physical Therapists are doctoral-trained specialists in human anatomy, movement, and functional performance. As of 2014, Direct Access was put into law in the state of Michigan. In short, patients can access physical therapy without a doctor’s prescription. Learn more about the details and how to access physical therapy.
Partner & Provider Info
An important piece of Active Recovery’s mission is to be a positive example of the physical therapy profession and the larger medical community. To achieve this, we are committed to education, both of ourselves and our patients as their own best advocates. In order to do this, we take pride in our growing network of professionals. Learn more about our community partners.