How Far They'll Go

 

Chiropractors and extreme sports

 

By Stacy Baca

 

Through sports many consider “extreme,” chiropractors are amplifying our perception of optimal health by challenging their minds, bodies and spirits (not to mention gravity) and pushing the limits of vitality. Can that life-force be experienced by those of us a little closer to the ground or at a slightly lesser speed? How do these daring feats of self-expression personify the essence of Chiropractic and the truth of being wholly alive? 

Finding Oneself

Who is Lance Lollar? Guaranteed, no one was asking that question in 1985 when Lollar was grinding up the endless 5-mile climbs that composed the Whiskey Town Downhill Mountain Bike Race. Lollar had started the race in a sprint on a mountain bike he had only recently purchased with the thought that it might be an inexpensive alternative to the motorcycles he had raced as a kid. “I was dying just a half-mile into that slug fest,” Lance Lollar, D.C., recalls of his struggles at the beginning of a 30-mile race. “I had no idea it was that long! People were passing me left and right, including a kid on a BMX bike.” Lollar laughs, a laugh tinged with remembrance of the exhaustion he felt at the time, of a time when mountain biking was quite new on the scene and the idea of “extreme sports” was unheard of.

Despite this discouraging entry into the world of mountain biking, soon enough
everyone immersed in the sport would know the answer to the question: Who is Lance Lollar? This is because Lollar possessed a dash of what he himself terms “hubris,” paired with an unwavering commitment to excellence. He was amazed at the power and the physical capacity the sport required, and it was his goal to demand that of himself.

Serendipity ensued, beginning with the 1989 World Mountain Bike Champion, Don Myrah, who happened to live a short distance away from Lollar’s hometown of Redding, Calif. Serendipity is what Lollar calls it, but persistence is what prevailed because Lollar convinced Myrah and a riding partner to ride with him. He proceeded to beat Myrah’s partner on their first ride together. It was then that Myrah told Lollar that he should be racing seriously. Lollar responded by following Myrah’s training advice very closely. 

A friendship between the two riders developed, and in February of 1990, Myrah insisted Lollar be photographed with him in a Compagnolo advertisement in Mountain Bike Action magazine, an insistence about which the advertisers and editors were not pleased. Who was this unknown dicing it out with a world-class competitor? 

“During the ride for the photo shoot, Don said to me, ‘Hey, how come you’re not sweating?’ and later, ‘Hey, you’re still not sweating,’” Lollar recalls. “And that gave me confidence. My goal was to finish first in the Pro National Shasta Lemurian Classic,” which was being held in Redding in April that year. Lollar was a practicing chiropractor, one year out of school with a wife and a 1-year-old daughter at home. He felt the pressure to perform at a professional level very keenly.

“Who is Lance Lollar?” the marketing director for Compagnolo was heard asking into his then uncommon cell phone after Lollar crossed the finish line. “Lance Lollar, he’s the guy who just won the Lemurian,” said the marketing director. That same Lance Lollar went on that year to rank ninth in the nation—an amazing finish for a rookie—and 14th in the world.

“I really thought I would be world champion,” Lollar says. “The emotion—I had put so much into it.” Yet, later that year Lollar, during a downhill at the Mountain Bike World Championship, lost his front wheel and broke his C3 vertebra, an injury that could have left him a quadriplegic. The irony of a chiropractor fracturing his spine was not lost on Lollar, but he recovered and continued racing for another two years after his injury. 

“But at that level of racing, that premium fitness, that extra five percent, you can’t win without it,” he says. While Lollar retired from professional mountain biking, he says that he wouldn’t change that experience because it gave him perspective.

“Good enough is not good enough in anything you do,” says Lollar. “Be excited. Wake up and ask, what can I do a little better?” Until Lollar raced mountain bikes, he said he didn’t understand how to truly develop a talent. Today, the success of his chiropractic practice, the bridges he builds within the healing community, the physical fitness he maintains and his family are all strong indicators that Lollar continues his push toward mastery and is clear about who he is.

Letting Go of the Rope

Colin Bartoe has a goal: to combine his two passions, rock climbing and skydiving. Bartoe, a 12th quarter chiropractic student at Life University, dreams of scaling a 300-foot mountainside with nothing more than the safety of a base-jumping parachute. “I think that would be one heck of an awesome experience,” he says.

Bartoe, who brings that same verve to his chiropractic studies, having already completed 500 hours of post-doctoral functional neurology, is a United States Parachute Association (USPA)certified skydiver and has, as of a few months ago, thrown himself into the sport of indoor rock climbing. “It requires the same mental concentration, the problem solving, the mastery of technique, that same focus that sky diving demands,” says Bartoe. “It expects me to relax and take control at the same time.” 

But what rock climbing didn’t require was a parachute. “The first time I climbed, I was halfway up a 60-foot rock wall, and I felt fear,” he says. Fear is not an emotion one associates with a skydiver. Bartoe explains, “I felt more comfortable under a big parachute. The rope, at that moment, seemed small and fragile.” Bartoe set his target and pushed through his fear, creating and re-creating the revelation of learning something new. 

He built a two-piece rock wall in his home and doesn’t miss an opportunity to build strength. “I go all out,” Bartoe says. 

Bartoe sources his chiropractic core philosophies as he continues to “go all out.” He challenges himself to grow and heal. “Some days my hands get all torn up, but I go back because I know that my body has the ability to repair itself and come back even stronger,” he says. “It’s beautiful to see people fly up a wall, using every instrument in the symphony of their entire body.”

Bouldering, outdoor rock climbing that does not require a harness or rope, is what Bartoe wants to tackle next. “Then, I can move anywhere I want,” he says. Suddenly, the rope seems limiting to a fellow like Bartoe who, only a few months ago, found the rope thin and fragile. 

at a higher level

Louis Corleto, a chiropractor in Johnson City, Tenn., was playing in the park with his kids on what he describes as a clear day when he felt drawn to look up into the sky. He let his mind wander, and that’s when he heard his inner voice say to him, “It’s a good day to jump.” 

“Alright, we’re done playing,” he said to his kids. They packed up, Corelto bought a book on skydiving, found a place five hours from his home and, the next day, was parachuting from a plane. “I wanted to go do it that very day,” says Corleto, “but I couldn’t get there before the last jump.”

Corleto views his life through what he calls a “vitalistic filter,” choosing experiences that stretch him and welcome fullness. “Does it bring me alive?” he asks. “Does it enhance my or another person’s world?” For Corelto, something happens when the door of the plane opens to the prospect of human flight, and that “something,” says Louis, “is called life.”

Achieving an instructor certification (to teach others to skydive) and acquiring a USPA D-license expanded the power of connection for Coreleto. “You are jumping out of a plane, falling at a rate of 180 miles per hour and holding hands with others, sharing fun, excitement and presence,” he says.

As an instructor, Corleto accesses the mind, body and spirit of his students, engages them in the process and soon lets them go. “The power and energy transitions from instructor to student,” he says. “This is a metaphor identical to that of the active approach between chiropractor and patient. I ask my patients to trust me, trust themselves and to surrender to healing. They get bigger, and I get smaller as they heal.”

Like his own patients, Corleto experienced fear of this process. “But what’s on the other side of that fear?” he asks. “On the other side of that fear is me at a higher level.” 

Corleto has adjusted patients in five continents and 35 countries and has traveled the globe teaching, skydiving, scuba diving and swimming with wild dolphins. He hosts healing retreats and authored the book, “Healing Versus Curing: Opening the Door to a New Lease on Life,” as well as founded AdJustWorld, a not-for-profit organization.

Of his experiences in skydiving and life, Corleto says, “You cannot attract anything higher than the level at which you are resonating, and you cannot assist people to go further than you’re willing to go.”