INVIVO’s Maurice Dumit on Health and Fitness
How did you arrive at your career as a physical therapist?
Circuitously! I worked as a professional actor in Texas for four years, but couldn’t live with the looming uncertainty of acting contracts. I wanted to nurture my creative side so I studied marketing and ended up working in men’s apparel in Chicago. The ’80s recession hit and I was up against the wall. Lost. So I picked up the book What Color is Your Parachute? and half way through doing “inventory,” I thought, “I love working with people, I have an exercise ethic and I have nothing to lose.” So I started from scratch and went back to school—a UW-Milwaukee kinesiology degree in 1995 and PT degree from Marquette in 1998.
In 2002 I founded INVIVO in a small facility on Farwell Avenue and we moved to this location in 2006. It’s funny. Medicine runs in my family—my stepfather is an anesthesiologist, my mother is a foreign-trained physician and PT. Lots of cousins are doctors. The last thing in the world I’d have thought would make me feel self-actualized would be this. But I'm very, very happy.
Is working in physical therapy creative?
Incredibly creative. I look at patients as whole people. Then I visualize how I’d like to see them when they’re discharged, walking through life. “Biology is destiny”—we can always re-invent ourselves, right? Being a business owner is also creative. I thought I’d never need my marketing degree again. But running INVIVO, I do!
What is the mission behind INVIVO as a whole?
I recognized that there were gaps in the business. People I helped would say, “What do I do now?” when I discharged them. I’d say, “Go join a gym! Stay active!” But they’d sometimes get lost. I also realized that for those I couldn’t help, I needed input from other practitioners—alternative and complementary—who could and should be a part of the process. I started to see the patient as the center of a wheel. He or she can enter into a paradigm of wellness from different spokes or avenues. We have a gym. We also offer massage, yoga, nutrition, naturopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, pedorthics—all scientifically measurable within their fields. Patients need resources, options, guidance. And they appreciate that we come from a philosophy of being humanistic and building community.
The INVIVO facility is beautiful. Are aesthetics a conscious part of your philosophy?
Yes! Everything is a part of wellness! The view of the river, the architecture and the colors—we try to bring the elements of nature inside. We want to create a bit of an urban sanctuary.