Doctor EJ Zebro
Last week I had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. EJ Zebro, a lifetime surfer, an old friend, and one of the top doctors in the health and fitness profession. Dr. EJ Zebro has been teaching the art of functional movement for over 25 years. He studied Exercise Science at The University of Delaware where he also minored in Biology and Sports Psychology and led the Men’s Varsity soccer team. He honed his functional training skills working first in California as a personal trainer, then as a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Bridgeport for the men’s soccer program. It was during that time at the UB Chiropractic College that Dr. Zebro developed the initial concept of Train Away Pain as a way to improve the performance of the athletes and decrease their rate of injury.
In 2007, Dr. Zebro founded Train Away Pain (TAP) as a result of the overwhelming demand for individualized patient care. The goal of TAP is to empower the patient to help heal his or herself through a combination of innovative manual therapies, sport-specific chiropractic care, and state of the art rehabilitative exercises. Dr. Zebro and his team of doctors, trainers, massage therapists, acupuncturists and chiropractors, work to remove the physical obstacles that limit patients from reaching their goals.
Train Away Pain offers an unbelievable breadth of services. In addition to the accomplishments mentioned above, Dr. Zebro has earned the following accolades:
Founder of Preventative Sports Medicine
Nationally Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
Certified Active Release Technique (ART) provider
Licensed chiropractic practitioner
Certified Graston Technique Provider
Certified Kinesiotaping Provider
Certified Sole Supports Provider
Director of functional movement, sport specific training and injury prevention strategies at BSC CT Academy
5-time member of the NYC Marathon medical staff
Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP)
After a tour of the Train Away Pain’s top of the line facilities and a little personalized deep tissue back attention from Dr. Zebro himself, we sat down to discuss Train Away Pain, his passion for surfing, travel, and his illustrious career of helping others.
CP: First of all, thank you for sitting down with me and thank you for that adjustment, there is some serious magic in those hands.
EJ: I do what I can my man, thank you for coming in.
CP: Let’s start off with a little background: where were you born, raised, and when did you start surfing?
EJ: I was born in Iowa--great waves there--and moved to New Jersey in 1984. However, I didn’t really start surfing until I moved to San Francisco in 1997.
CP: What inspired you to start surfing and what inspires you to continue surfing?
EJ: My step brother was legitimately my inspiration for all cool things--skating, surfing, skiing, good music--he was an all around inspiration. He was a professional surfer and inspired me to get out there and enjoy the ocean. I still feel like he has my back on a daily basis.
CP: I understand your California lifestyle involved a little..modeling?
EJ: Haha, yes--a little modeling but not much. Mostly just a lot of personal training and sales and management of fitness clubs. I lived in San Francisco until 2002, when I moved back to the East Coast. Specifically, to Connecticut.
CP: As a Connecticut native, I am all too familiar with the lack of surf. What did you do to find waves?
EJ: I would constantly plan weekend getaways and go visit my family so I could catch waves in New Jersey.
CP: How did surfing the Jersey Shore compare to California?
EJ: Honestly, I loved surfing the Jersey Shore. Monmouth Beach was my local break. It was definitely cold in the winter, but I didn’t miss the cold, grey Pacific with great whites lurking in the lineup.
CP: What do you think makes the New York surfing culture unique?
EJ: The New York surf culture is so unique because you have to be really committed to getting out on the water and hunting for surf. Even the most “consistent” breaks are spotty, so you have to be patient and be willing to get out there in less than ideal conditions. It's the epitome of surfing for the love of the entire experience. When I moved to Connecticut I had my struggles with the Long Island Sound because I couldn't surf. I would stare at this relatively useless water in front of me and wish that there was even the mushiest knee high break somewhere. And then, one day, a wind surf board from 1974 washed ashore and I used it as my first stand-up paddle board. That led me to save for my first real SUP board, a 9’6” Oxbow, which is still in my quiver. When I bought that board my world expanded and I started getting out on the Sound and enjoying the water in a different way. I live twenty feet from the Long Island Sound, so these days I mostly paddleboard.
CP: Even though you’re mostly paddleboarding these days, I’m sure you still have a couple favorite surf spots?
EJ: Sadly, the true answer is that now that I’ve transitioned to stand up paddleboarding, I’d be making something up if I stuck to just one. The last time I surfed was on Martha’s Vineyard, which had a rolling point break that made me look much better than I am and truly fulfilled my soul. So I’d say, Martha’s Vineyard at the moment if I had to pick one.
CP: That sounds like quite the surf session. Do you have any pre or post surf routines?
EJ: I don’t do much before I go surfing or paddleboarding--just a couple quick stretches. However, I do have a post-surf routine that I follow religiously. After every surf session, I go back into the water to pause to give thanks to mother nature and give myself a couple rinses. I’m always sure to give homage to my brother and remember him as well.
[CP editor’s note: EJ shared this routine with me when I was a wee lad and I have adapted it myself. Whenever I get out of the water after a surf, whether it was a picture-perfect day or I got thrashed, I take a moment to get back in and give thanks--it makes my day every time and I have him to thank for it.]
CP: From start to finish, what would be your ideal beach day consist of?
EJ: I’m definitely in St. Barth's, and I’m not going to say the first thing that pops to mind because there are 22 beaches and you can always find a private getaway… we will keep it PG here. It starts with a fast convertible, two bottles of rosé, some fruit, fresh baguettes, and, of course, some cheese. I find an isolated beach--clothing is optional. I paddle out and surf a perfect point break until I can’t paddle any longer. I catch one last ride in and eat and drink on the beach as I watch other surfers tear it up. I soak in the sunset as I float in hyper-salinated water. Then I retire for a siesta before dinner.
CP: I can’t be the first to ask you that question because that sounded like you’ve had that day on your mind for a while… What are some of the best travel destinations surfing has taken you?
EJ: Well, I don’t like to go anywhere where surfing is not an option. St. Barth's has to be up there. Also, Martha’s Vineyard, Montauk, Nantucket and the Hamptons are great local spots that I love to visit when the swell is just right.
CP: What won’t you travel without?
EJ: Herbal multi-vitamins. No, I’m totally joking. My running sneakers, flip flops, and the love of my life.
CP: How do you practice a clean lifestyle?
EJ: Everyday I start my morning with meditation at sunrise, which I try to do 90% of the time outside, standing at the foot of Long Island Sound. I’ve found it to be life-shifting for my personal, spiritual and business life.
[CP editor's note: if you give the man a follow on Instagram @dr.ej_zebro you’ll see that he is very committed to the sunrise session].
CP: What are some of your favorite food spots around the Fairfield/Westport, CT area?
EJ: The Welk because they have the best unique seafood variety that I’ve ever experienced, Artisan because they always put soccer on TV for me, Pacci because they treat us like family, and I’m still looking for a good taco place.
CP: You offer such a large variety of services at Train Away Pain, what would you describe as your speciality? What are the core values that drive TAP?
EJ: You know, it is tough to pin down just one speciality because we pride ourselves on offering such an array of elite care and training. We specialize in preventive sports medicine, we deliver top-notch post-surgical acute care, we train and rehabilitate all types of athletes, from elite professionals striving to further improve their game to middle schoolers recovering from ankle injuries. But at our core, we believe that injury prevention starts at Train Away Pain. We focus on teaching habits of movement that will increase core strength and decrease probability of injury for a lifetime.
CP: Any quick tips for the readers who are headed back to the office after Memorial Day Weekend while still dealing with crippling hangovers and aching bodies?
EJ: Enjoy Memorial Day weekend and don’t be too hard on yourself. Spend the next three days after you come back doing things to put your body back together globally, things that involving sweating and hydration to flush out your system. Go to a hot yoga class, go running, and make sure you do lots of stretching. Focus on increasing facial lengthening to let out all the toxins and of course, get in the water--there is nothing more restorative than getting out there for a surf or paddleboard session.
I would like to extend a huge thank you to Dr. EJ Zebro and the rest of the Train Away Pain team for their hospitality and support--we’re looking forward to getting back to the Westport, CT headquarters soon! You can find more information on Train Away Pain on their website, http://trainawaypain.com
Sea's the day!
Written by: Clark Perkins