This article can be found in the Alumni Magazine.

July 6, 2022

By Yvonne Schroeder

Dr. Joe Piwoszkin knew as a USF football player what rehabilitation and recovery mean to lifelong fitness. Now he uses skills learned from personal rehabilitation, a career in chiropractic and a cross-examination of fitness programs in many gyms to help active people rehabilitate and stay active without injury.

His Fort Wayne gym, Plus Ultra, where he’s known as Dr. Joe, borrows from the best he’s experienced at facilities in major Midwest cities to offer a three-pronged approach to physical health and wellness.

“In my profession in Chicago and Cincinnati, I was teaching people how to exercise without getting hurt,” he said. “I joined three to four CrossFit gyms and became so well acquainted with that style of fitness I thought, ‘I can open a small gym.’ I used my experiences in football, chiropractic and CrossFit to create Plus Ultra. It’s a compilation of my life in health and fitness, and I’m putting it all together. When I knew I could treat people and show them how to be active, it was an addictive feeling.”

Each session has three sections, one emphasizing strength, another a workout and the third an accessory. “One thing I found is that routines will help you stagnate,” he said. “After a while, people plateau and there’s no more change. I took from CrossFit that if you vary the stimulus, the body will adapt. It’s always a different strength program. You don’t know what exercise you’ll be doing.”

The next portion, the workout, is a surprise each day. “It might be lower body day; it’s to keep you moving and your heart rate up with lighter weights,” he said. “I was bored on a treadmill. This combines different exercises at different intervals. People love that, walking in and wondering what I’ll make them do. The last portion is accessory, some sort of rehabilitative motion with smaller, neglected muscle groups that don’t get much attention. It’s a complete cycle.”

He performs the same exercise regimen as clients because he believes strongly in the benefits.

“People are shocked that I do our programming,” he said. “Some people go to training with coaches who don’t do the same workout. They do their own personal stuff. I think if it’s not good enough for me, it’s not good enough for clients. I am doing their journey every single day, and that’s the net success of Plus Ultra.”

He believes in helping the broader world, too. This year, gym members donated Christmas gifts for families in need. In addition, by exemplifying the importance of fitness, he changes lives.

“My feeling is the world desperately needs fitness. One of the coolest things is the kids area. When new kids come in, within a week they’re standing at the rail watching Mom and Dad work out, and they want to make it important as well. I tell people my workouts should make life seem easy. A newer member noted recently that he shoveled the whole driveway without stopping, and it wasn’t a big deal.”

USF undergraduate biology prepared him well for his eventual career in physical medicine. “I knew the curriculum was challenging and had a good reputation, but it really shone afterward,” he said.

“At chiropractic school you have to pass basic science boards, and I realized how better prepared I was than my classmates. I wasn’t a kid who knew what I wanted to do. I liked science and started pre-med at USF. I came to realize physical healthcare was important to me and got accepted at National University of Health Sciences for chiropractic. When I graduated, I took an associate doctor’s position at a practice that was multidisciplinary, so I did lots of rehabilitative work. My practice eventually became established as injury recovery and how to begin working out again—getting them back in condition safely and in a healthy way.”

A supportive life partner made the journey easier. “I could not have done it without my wife, Lisa Marie (Setnicker) Piwoszkin, who is a USF alumna (2008). She went on to work at Parkview Health as a neonatologist. That brought us back to Fort Wayne.”