Locker Room, Excel joining forces

Businesses teaming up to offer ‘athletic policy’ for young athletes

By Brent Lindquist
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Excel Physical Therapy’s Mike Obergottsberger and Locker Room Fitness co-owner Jake Locker explore the location that will soon be occupied by Excel Physical Therapy at Locker Room Fitness. (Brent Lindquist/Ferndale Record)

Excel Physical Therapy’s Mike Obergottsberger and Locker Room Fitness co-owner Jake Locker explore the location that will soon be occupied by Excel Physical Therapy at Locker Room Fitness. (Brent Lindquist/Ferndale Record)

FERNDALE — Ferndale’s Locker Room Fitness is teaming up with Bellingham’s Excel Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation to offer a variety of sports medicine that isn’t seen much on the West Coast.

“It’s more common on the East Coast that you get a sports medicine team going,” Excel athletic trainer Mike Obergottsberger said. “You’ve got clinics where doctors and chiropractors and physical therapists and athletic trainers are all in the same clinic.”

Obergottsberger moved to Bellingham in 1985 to attend Western Washington University. He became an athletic trainer more than 20 years ago, and has focused on clinical rehabilitation and high school sports programs. He works with the Bellingham Blazers, Bellingham Bells and Whatcom Sports Commission as head athletic trainer. His wife, Lisa, plays a major role at Excel as the co-owner. She is responsible for the in-house physical therapy component, and has worked with her husband throughout their careers.

Obergottsberger offers something called the “athletic policy,” and has done so since he began working in Whatcom County. The policy states that young athletes can come in and have their injuries assessed by sports medicine professionals for free.

For instance, if a high school athlete has a sprained ankle, he or she can go to Obergottsberger to have the injury looked at, and he can assist with any further medical care required for the injury, such as referrals to doctors if X-rays are necessary, or if it can be rehabilitated.

“Mike and Jake have worked with kids in the community for a long time, and now that they’ve acquired the fitness center, Excel wants to utilize this advantage and use the quality of the gym to be able to continue working with kids,” Obergottsberger said.

The new location, which will be named Excel Physical Therapy at Locker Room Fitness, is located just across the road from the Locker Room. There, injuries will be screened, assessed and treated. The Locker Room will be used as a physical therapy and exercise space for ongoing treatment.

“We work with them like we normally do, with the goal in mind that they end up coming over here and doing the high-level exercises so the injury won’t happen again,” Obergottsberger said.

Locker Room manager Dane Thorpe said he hopes the Locker Room can team up with Excel to provide a one-stop shop of sorts. Obergottsberger said the success of this new venture will depend on how the community embraces it. He said that if successful, with Thorpe and Locker Room owners Locker and Michael Koenen, he has some big ideas that could come to fruition in the future.

“We want to offer it all,” Thorpe said.

This could include practice facilities for athletes to use so they can be observed directly by athletic trainers and sports medicine professionals. Obergottsberger said online consulting via FaceTime and Skype is also an option for injury assessment and potential exercise prescription. Obergottsberger said he will use Excel Physical Therapy at Locker Room Fitness as an internship site for high school sports medicine students.

Locker said the new venture is a great fit for the Locker Room, as it is a place that can be used by people with and without injuries.

“When you get injured, it’s no secret that the best way to get back is to go through physical therapy,” Locker said. “We believe that Mike and Lisa are some of the best in this county at doing that.”

Excel Physical Therapy at Locker Room Fitness will open the first week of January. It is located right across from Locker Room Fitness at 1859 Main St., Suite 101, in Ferndale.