For most of us, our career choices revolve around our own quality of life. We ask for raises, work flexibility, accept promotions, negotiate extra vacation days or benefits. But for some, careers revolve around other people’s quality of life – like healthcare. Meet Zac Schniers, PT, DPT, CMPT, whose work at Axes Physical Therapy is all about making life better for other people. Whether he’s helping seniors manage their aches and pains or supporting athletes in bouncing back from injuries, Zac’s got a knack for understanding the human body and how to get it back on track.
This December, we’re super excited to turn the employee spotlight on Zac! He’s not just a key part of our Axes family; he’s someone whose dedication and passion make a real difference every day. Zac’s journey with us has been filled with memorable moments and loads of hard work, all aimed at making a positive impact. Most recently, Zac has lead the opening of Axes newest facility in St. Louis City this October. Let’s take a closer look at Zac’s life, his role as a Physical Therapist, his new role as Clinic Director, and get to know the guy who’s all about helping people move better and feel better!
Q: Zac, congratulations on the recent opening of Axes Physical Therapy in Midtown St. Louis! Can you share with us a bit about your journey from PT school to becoming a Physical Therapist and now the Clinic Director for Axes in St. Louis City?
Zac: Thank you so much! Welllllllllll, after graduating from PT school, I immediately began working in Illinois. Those initial years, especially through the challenges of COVID, challenged me a lot. The turning point for me was meeting Bill Franzen, one of the owners of Axes Physical Therapy. I was struck by his philosophy on Physical Therapy as a profession – his basic focus on enhancing patient lives. Bill sharing his passion led me to work for Axes across several clinics, which was an exciting adventure. I was exposed to many different patient types and treatment styles, and it helped confirm that Axes really did have the fun culture I’d heard about from employees before me. From there, I settled in Affton, alongside Stacy Collins and Scott Gallant, who have been incredible mentors for me. And now, I’m honored to be leading the charge to open Axes in St. Louis City.
Q: It seems like lots of PTs dive into the field after a personal experience with physical therapy. Is that what sparked your interest?
Zac: Oh, my ride into PT is a classic tale! I underwent back surgery during my sophomore year in high school. Man, those days were rough. I was this close to giving the side-eye to my healthcare crew. But I powered through the recovery, thanks in large part to my physical therapist. The way they got me back on my feet blew my mind. Originally, I was all about journalism in college, but that post-surgery experience nudged me toward physical therapy, especially with my love for sports in the mix.
Q: Now you’re not only a clinician, but also a Clinic Director. How’s that feeling?
Zac: Opening my own clinic has been on my bucket list since I started my career. I’m so excited and thankful for this new challenge. I’ve been fortunate to learn from some of the best therapists and physicians in the field. I‘m also so happy to be collaborating with Ashley Kraus, our front office supervisor. She brings a wealth of knowledge, and I believe together we can elevate our clinic and continue our shared mission of helping people. Equally important has been the unwavering support I’ve received at home from my wife, Alex.
Q: As a seasoned Physical Therapist, do you have any specializations or patient types you’re particularly passionate about treating?
I primarily treat outpatient orthopedic cases. I gravitated towards spine and manual therapy, along with delving into trigger point dry needling. Proudly, I earned my CMPT through Axes’ Continuing Education program. Furthermore, in an effort to be the most well rounded clinician possible, I also earned my Vestibular Therapy certification to help best serve my athletes and the concussion/vertigo patient population. Even though these cases differ, the common thread lies in the gratifying journey of physically and mentally supporting someone and witnessing their incredible transformation.
Q: As a native of St. Louis, how do you think Axes embodies the city’s spirit?
Zac: St. Louis is home, you know? To me, and actually, to most of our employees. Axes started small, kind of like an underdog. Now, 19 locations in 7 years – I feel like that’s us embracing the spirit of this city. We’re pretty darn grateful to embody the underdog spirit of our home city and to keep growing and thriving here!
Q: St. Louis is renowned for its sense of community. How do you perceive Axes Physical Therapy adding to the St. Louis City community?
Zac: We’re not just here to help people recover and get back on their feet—we’re here to build relationships, to support local events and causes, and to really be a part of the fabric of the community. We’re situated in the heart of Midtown, and this part of St. Louis has witnessed some truly inspiring growth lately! We’re right next to the brand-new Top Golf, residential lofts, and Target. Once you’re inside our facility, you’ll see that we’ve made sure to show our St. Louis spirit. On our walls is the STL Skyline, “I’m from the Lou and I’m Proud,” Cardinals and Blues memorabilia, and SO many other St. Louis-isms. Really, Axes is St. Louis. Not only that, but we give back to local charities through donations from the Axes Foundation, host annual blood drives for our community, and hold as many drives for donated goods like food, clothes, school supplies, and pet supplies as we can.
Q: Given St. Louis’s vibrant sports culture, how does Axes assist in rehabilitating local athletes, from young talents to the big leagues?
Zac: St. Louis has grand stadiums and diverse sports teams, but there’s a noticeable gap in therapeutic options within the city. We offer tailor-made rehab programs to get our athletes back in the game, focusing on their specific needs, challenges, and goals. It’s not just about healing; it’s about enhancing performance and preventing future injuries. Given our proximity to institutions like SLU Campus and WashU Sports Medicine, our collaboration with local sports medicine physicians is of huge importance to us. And now, with Missouri embracing direct access, we are often the first call for athletes and parents. We’re proud to be a pit stop where St. Louis’s athletes gear up to go out there and make us proud!
Q: What’s an aspect of physical therapy you wish was more widely understood?
Zac: Physical therapy extends beyond mere exercises in a clinic. We emphasize comprehensive injury rehabilitation, prevention, and wellness promotion. We’re dedicated to guiding our patients, alleviating their pain, and aligning our goals with theirs. Physical therapy is not just treating an injury; it’s about leveling up your quality of life.
Q: For the residents of St. Louis who haven’t yet experienced Axes’ unique approach, what message would you like to convey as you celebrate this new clinic’s opening?
Zac: I’d say if you haven’t had a chance to experience the Axes touch, I’d like to extend a warm invitation to come and check out our new clinic! Whether you’re on a healing journey or looking to up your game, we’re here to be your partners, your supporters, and your biggest champions. And anyone is welcome to stop by for a no obligation free injury screening. Whether you’re dealing with a nagging pain or just want to ensure you’re moving at your best, we’re here for you. Swing by, let’s chat about your goals, and we’ll work together to get you on a path together towards better movement, better health, and a better life.
We are incredibly grateful for Zac Schniers‘ dedication and expertise, not only as a Physical Therapist but also as a Clinic Director, driving the success of Axes Physical Therapy. His passion for patient care and leadership is truly inspiring, and we are honored to have him as an essential part of the Axes family. Join us in celebrating Zac’s outstanding contributions to our community and his commitment to promoting health and wellness through exceptional care at Axes Physical Therapy’s Midtown location.