Christina Zheng’s Journey from Helping Women to Running Her Physical Therapy Clinic

Hey there, wellness entrepreneur! Welcome back!

Today I’m honored to have on special guest, Christina Zheng,  and you will be so inspired by her story.  You’ll hear about the work she does as a physical therapist,  helping women, as well as her entrepreneurial journey of transitioning from being a mobile physical therapist with limited time in her schedule because of big transitions in her life to now having a brick-and-mortar commercial space and a full schedule.

So you’ll hear about how she worked with her schedule to carve out more time for self-care, as well as how she got those patients. Read on to know more! 

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Question To Christina: So Christina,  can you tell us a little bit about what you do and who you help? 

Christina: I am a doctor of physical therapy, and I specialize in pelvic health, pelvic floor physical therapy, working with women of all ages and stages of pregnancy, motherhood, womanhood, pregnancy and postpartum, and even women who have never had babies.  

So, I also have a special place in my heart for fitness and weightlifting. I’ve been weightlifting for over 10 years now. And in that world, pelvic floor therapy is not huge. And I feel like personally, I really enjoy working with that population because they want to keep doing their sport. 

I love working with pregnant women, and I love working with the active adult. So that’s where my space is at. That’s what I love to do, what I’m passionate about. And these are the people who I would just thrive working with. 

Alison: I love that. And I can feel that from you and women’s health and the pelvic floor work, it’s such a blossoming area right now. I think more females and even health care providers, some maybe not so much, but people are becoming aware of the importance of this type of work. 

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Question To Christina: You have your own powerful story of how you went through your own struggles with your pelvic floor and women’s health, where it really hindered you from weightlifting the way that you want to. Do you feel comfortable sharing any of that?

Christina: Sure. Yeah. Well, in pelvic floor therapy, there’s really nothing that makes me uncomfortable. So, like I said, I was a weightlifter for over 10 years. I never, never really had any issues other than a little bit of back pain here and there, which I was always able to work through, but never able to kick completely. It wasn’t until I went through my pregnancy.

So I have a two-and-a-half-year-old. And during pregnancy, I had the worst pregnancy. My back was always aching. I had a pubic symphysis pain. So that’s that pain right up in the front. I had a horrible labor and delivery, and I did have a C-section.  

I was induced for labor for 62 hours, failed that induction, and then had a C-section. So I was not really able to walk, being as fit as I thought I was, and I was not really able to walk until probably about eight weeks around the block without being in tremendous pain down in my lower abdomen, I was having tremendous pain with sex, intercourse, the thought of it was just so painful. Just thinking about it was painful. I was having pain with sex, my back was chronically in pain, I was also having a little bit of leaking, and I had a great two prolapses.

So all of those things, I had to work through myself being postpartum and going through postpartum depression. I was just not in my own headspace to treat myself. I did not see myself as a patient. And to be honest, I discounted the fact that I was having some pelvic floor dysfunction because I’m a pelvic floor PT. To me, it was like, “Oh, we don’t get these things. We’re immune to this because I know my stuff.” Didn’t think about it. 

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And also, I think mentally I was in the space of, “It’s time, I need other people to take care of me because I don’t.” Everything is so new. Having a baby is so new. My life is so new now. 

So I went to my OBGYN. I went to four different OBGYNs with those planes, and they all told me, “Well, you just had a baby.” I said, “But I’m leaking, and I’m having pain with sex.” And I mean, this was like four or five months of just dealing with these struggles postpartum.  And each one just said, “You just had a baby. This is normal.” And I knew in my heart that was not the answer, but I also still felt like my pelvic floor was probably fine. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the depression. Maybe it’s the sleepless nights.

But when I finally got more of the hang of motherhood in my schedule and my life, I started thinking about it more seriously. I actually started treating myself. I explored my pelvic floor and realized, “Oh my goodness, my pelvic floor needed some help going on here. Something’s going on.” So I treated it myself. I treated myself with all the same things that I would give my patients. And I was able to heal myself from leaking. I had no more pain with sex, and my low back pain that had been chronic for years, finally, no more low back pain. And it was all because of my pelvic floor.

I attributed my low back pain to the two car accidents where in which I was rear-ended, so I thought this low back pain was from the car accidents, but it could have been a big contributing factor, but my pelvic floor was definitely the biggest factor. 

So yeah, that’s my story on my own pelvic floor healing. And from my own experience, I think it just made me a better clinician. I’m able to really empathize and understand what these women are going through and also able to understand the women that want to get back to lifting or want to be lifting without leaking because I was having that issue.

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Alison: And you can see Christina back in the gym, weight lifting, lifting strong, lifting heavy with no problems. And so I think that’s such an inspiration for all, especially the entrepreneurs, because I think it’s such a natural tendency as healers, as healthcare providers, as multi-certified practitioners to not seek help because we think we know all the things, and it might expose a vulnerability or a weakness, or we just don’t even relate our symptoms to what’s going on. 

Or for me, when I was more on the wellness practitioner side of things, and I was diagnosed with cancer, I felt a lot of shame. I was like, “Well, who am I to teach about wellness when I’m not well?” So there are a lot of reasons as to why an entrepreneur in the wellness field might not seek out help for their own discomfort and their own struggles.

But I think your story highlights the importance of pausing and starting to reflect as to what are the symptoms going on in your body and question, “Can I handle this myself or do I need an outside perspective and a provider?” And fortunately, you were able to heal it yourself, but there are people that maybe, for me, I needed an outside perspective. I needed people to kind of get outside my own head of thinking and look at my body more objectively to determine what was really going on. 

But you practiced what you preached. You brought in your own tools, which I love, and it worked. So that’s amazing. 

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Question To Christina: So tell me a little bit now, we’ll transition to your entrepreneurial journey. So when we met, you were working as a mobile physical therapist for women’s health, and you had a couple of patients, and then what happened?

Christina: So when we met, I was actually going through a big transition in my life. This year has been a year of just change and growth. I was going through a divorce, became a single mom, moved from my marital home to a different home with my daughter, and starting, well, I would say starting my business because I technically started my business right before COVID the shutdown happened. 

And, of course we all know what had been, what happened there.  Then I had my daughter, and I went back to working three months postpartum, and I was working with clients who I had prior to the shutdown. I had a few clients, just a few. So, I was doing mobile therapy. I would go to their homes, and sometimes they would come to my home garage, where I had a full gym in and that was working out okay, but I knew I wanted to scale my business

I knew especially that I was now a single mom, and I did not have the luxury of just staying home to take care of my daughter. It was one of the driving forces, but obviously, my passion has always been to start my own business and thrive and treat as many women as I possibly can. 

So how I came to you is, it was during this time when I just thought I needed outside help. I’ve always been that person who was, “I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to do everything. I can do all my research. I can join all the Facebook groups. I can listen to all the podcasts, follow all the Instagram people,” but I didn’t have that. I didn’t have that time. I didn’t have the energy to put into it. And driving from patient to patient wasn’t working out for me anymore because it takes 20 minutes to get there, 20 minutes back, and all that time I have to pay a nanny.  So I really needed to consolidate my time. So time was a scarcity for me, and I found you, Alison. I found you, and I found you through one of the Facebook groups.

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Actually somebody had recommended you, and I started looking you up and listening to your podcasts, and I really liked how you incorporated just self-care and wellness into entrepreneurship because that was where I was. That was what I needed. Self-care was so important to me because I was so, I guess, lack of a better word, broken at that time. So it was kind of a no-brainer to work with you. I just felt this, and I had a consult with you. I felt this energy of, “Okay, this is where I need to be.” So I jumped on it. That’s how we came to this.

Alison: I love this. And you’ve been a pleasure to work with. I just want to celebrate your success because you really put in a lot of hard work while going through a hard time in your life. And I think that can be such an inspiration for others because I see it on social media and Facebook. There are other moms who have a desire to own their own business and are transitioning in different ways in their life. And you are such an example of what’s possible. 

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Question To Christina: And you and I worked on your schedule to make sure that you weren’t overworking.  Do you want to talk about that a little bit? 

Christina: Yeah, I do. We worked on my schedule a lot, almost every call that we have. So, going back to my schedule and going from mobile to now being in my own space, the whole transition from that to this was really because of my schedule. I started getting busier and busier, and driving to each patient’s home was just not feasible for my schedule and having my daughter and being the mom that I wanted to be.

So we worked on my schedule in terms of blocking out time for myself, because I’m that person, who is, go, go, go and do, do, do, and I’m not even on my priority list. I’m not even on the list. I’m just taking care of everything else. And you really pulled me back from that and ground me and basically made me block out time in my schedule for myself.

In doing that process, we talked about potentially getting my own space, and now I’m in my own space. It’s so much better for my time and my schedule, and my sanity, my life. 

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Alison: And I think what you’re feeling is so common. There are so many people, we talked about a thought you had, like, “I’m going to do one more thing,” or “I’m just going to do this one last thing before I stop for the day.” And then it’s like 11PM at night. And I think there’s so many entrepreneurs that feel this way. And it’s very uncomfortable to actually stop working for the day. 

Question To Christina: So how did you actually stop working for the day?  What did you tell yourself, or how did you handle those uncomfortable emotions?

Christina: It wasn’t easy, for sure. It wasn’t easy because I know you and I talked about it a lot, and I did not implement it very well. It was always like, Okay, okay, I’m going to do it this week. I’m going to do it.” But there’s just one thing, one more thing. It was like, I think my stop time was nine o’clock, is what we said. It would be 8:45 PM and I would look at my list of things to do and say, “Okay, I think I can do two more things. Well, three more things.” So I start really rationalizing in my head, “Well, it’s only going to go over by 10, 15 minutes. So it’s only going to be 9:10. 9:15. It’s still okay.” Before you know it, it was 10:30, and I’m tired, and I still have to take a shower. Sometimes, I still haven’t eaten dinner. And you know, it was a big struggle for me.

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It wasn’t really until I was on the verge of burnout, which I was several times over these last few months, I was at the verge of burnout that I was saying, I need to pull myself back because I was making mistakes in my life. I was making mistakes in my business. I was dropping the ball in several aspects of my life. 

So that was when I took it more seriously and practiced “me time.” It’s what I called when I blocked off the time on my calendar, actually practicing it made me realize the next day. My “me time” was only two hours on a Wednesday, but on the next day, I would come back and I would be a different person. And because of that, I realized the importance of keeping myself to these boundaries.

Alison: Yes. Which also helps you as a practitioner, because then you can help your moms through that too. 

Christina: Right. Yeah. And the population that I work with, moms in general, live a life of go, go, go, do, do, do. So definitely something that I’ve preached to them is that you have to slow down, you have to put yourself first. And by them coming to me, working with me, that is a huge step because they are putting themselves on the priority, but I want to make sure that they can keep themselves on the priority list for the long-term for their health.

Alison: Yes. A hundred percent. 

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Question To Christina: So let’s talk about your success. You are the workshop queen. So you went out there on your own, and you got a bunch of workshops, and we work together on creating this structure and the sequencing of those workshops. And what was the result of all those workshops? 

Christina: So the result of the workshops, well, there’s been really good ones. And then there’s been ones where I had like three, but so let’s talk about the three. That was my very first workshop. And I had three people come, and I just thought, I mean, I prepared the heck out of that. And I just did my thing, and two of the three people actually signed up with me. So I was like, “Okay,  it doesn’t really matter how many people participate.” It still does hurt though. 

Because, like just yesterday, I did a workshop, and I texted you, there are only six, and four of them were staff. So, it’s not like I was hurt, it’s just kind of a disappointment, but I have to remember that I also am doing this to educate and to bring awareness to women about pelvic health because what I can teach them, they can teach their daughters, they can teach their friends, they can teach their granddaughters, they can empower women with this education. And I think there is a duty, personally, I think there’s a duty for me as a clinician to bring this awareness out there.

And I have workshops that have been completely booked with a wait list, 40 people. And you know, that feels great. And you know, I’m having to open up new dates because there are so many people on the waitlist. So that’s how my workshops are going. So it’s like, there’s good, and there’s like, eh.

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Alison: And that’s normal. And I think it’s so important for people to hear because it can be discouraging, especially that first workshop where you spend so much time and energy bringing it together, and then you’re like, “Three people, really?” And you had two people sign up.

My first workshops, I think I had one to three people, too. I don’t know if I got two people to sign up. And even now, there can be workshops that I teach or, like you were saying, that there’s a dip, but if you just keep going, you’re going to hit those workshops where things come together, and they do sell out, and you’re able to put on other dates in the schedule and fill your own one-to-one private session schedules. 

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Question To Christina: So how many sessions, how many patients are you working with right now on average?

Christina: On average, the last couple of months, it’s been, I would say, about 12 to 15 visits a week. Some weeks are a little less, about 10, but yeah, that’s basically what I’m averaging.

Alison: With your “me time!”

Christina: With my me time! And since moving into this space and I’ve only been here for two and a half, three weeks, I am taking all Fridays off. It’s nice.

Alison: Yay. Love that.  You are such an inspiration to so many people. 

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Question To Christina: Are there any parting words that you want to share to the wellness entrepreneur, healthcare provider who might be struggling in entrepreneurship in their own way? 

Christina: There is no shame in asking for help. Like I said, I was that person who wanted to do everything on my own. And for no reason, really. I don’t even know who I was proving that to, but I was at a point in my life where asking for help made the most sense, and I didn’t have the money to invest in this, but I would do it all over again because it helped me do what I do best without having to do all the other leg work that trying to figure it out by myself. So there’s no shame in asking for help. 

And it’s okay to not be perfect at everything. It’s okay not to have all the things done because that’s also where I was at. I wanted everything done. I wanted everything perfect.

And you, Alison, taught me like, “Is it okay to wait?” Yeah. Oftentimes, the answer was yes, it was okay to wait. And that helped calm my nervous system down. They helped me just take it one step at a time. 

So, getting help has really helped me my personal life too, my personal and my journey in entrepreneurship. So my advice is if you try it yourself, can you do it? Well, great. If you need help, there’s no shame in getting help. 

Alison: Yeah! I love that. And congrats on your beautiful clinic and your beautiful baby girl. 

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Question To Christina: And where can they find you so they can look you up and learn all the things?

Christina: So I’m more present on Instagram. I do post regularly their educational stuff and just tips. You can find me there.  My Instagram handle is @holistichealingPT. And I am trying to be more active in blogging. So I will do have a couple of posts on my website, and I’m on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

Alison: Awesome. Well, go give her a follow and look her up for both your own health or just to stay inspired. Thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your wisdom and sharing your time.

Christina: Thank you, Alison.  

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Alison McLean

"I help the Entrepreneur reduce stress and live a more fulfilled and balanced life."