WAG Integrated Support Team (IST)
Jean-François Mathieu, B.Sc. P.T (IST Lead)
In May of 1997, Jean-François earned a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from the Université de Montréal. Previously, he completed a major in Science of Physical Activity at the same university. Ever since, he has been a member in good standing of the Ordre professionnel de la physiothérapie du Québec (OPPQ) and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA).
He still maintains an interest in the field of orthopedics and sports injuries, including circus and gymnastic injuries. His hands-on experience in the field is varied: local, provincial, national and international sporting events. Always on the lookout to further his knowledge, he completed advanced training in orthopedic manual therapy. He has a strong interest in different sports therapy techniques and many others.
He is also committed to the development of the profession of physiotherapist, which leads him to get involved in various committees, including the Physio-Montreal Association, for which he acts as president. For 9 years, he worked as a senior physiotherapist at the international headquarters of Cirque du Soleil, where he actively developed his expertise in circus injuries. His involvement with Cirque du Soleil led him to travel on several continents. He also teaches applied anatomy at the National Circus School of Montreal, where he has been training new professional artists and their instructors for nearly 10 years. He was able to showcase this experience by giving numerous lectures about sports medicine applied to the circus arts.
Jean-François has been head physiotherapist for the Marathon de Montréal for 4 years, as well as the physiotherapist for the Quebec team and the Canadian artistic gymnastics team. In his spare time, Jean-François is a fan of running, swimming and road cycling, which has led him to complete several triathlons.
Dr. Manon Côté (Chief Medical Officer)
Dre Côté CCFP (SEM) Has a bachelor of science degree in physiotherapy from Ohio State University in addition to a doctorate in medicine from Université Laval and a degree in sports medicine from the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine. She is working on her IOC diploma of sports medicine for spring 2019.
A former athlete in synchronized swimming at the international level, Dr. Côté has extensive experience with high-performance athletes. She has, among other things, been a chief local medical officer at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and U-20 2014 as well as at the 2017 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. Dre Côté is also a sports physician at Montreal Impact soccer Academy. She had the pleasure and honour of being part of the Canadian medical team at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Dre Côté has a special interest in artistic and aquatic sports in addition to rugby and soccer.
Martha Purdy, PT, DOMP (Physiotherapy, Osteopathy & Pilates)
Martha is a physiotherapist, osteopath and pilates teacher with 20 years of experience working with athletes. She uses a unique combination of manual therapy, acupuncture, osteopathy and exercise to enhance performance in elite athletes.
Martha is a former member of the national trampoline and tumbling team, and has represented Canada at the Worlds and World Age Group Championships. She has travelled internationally as a physiotherapist and Performance Medicine Supervisor for Cirque du Soleil. While at Cirque, Martha studied with pilates teachers across Canada and Europe, and began to integrate the Pilates method into her varied treatment approach. She loves working with coaches and athletes to fine-tune their conditioning and integrate new exercises to improve performance and prevent injury.
Martha owns a physiotherapy and pilates studio in Halifax. She enjoys working with local gym clubs, Gymnastics Nova Scotia, and the dream team of Ellie Black and David Kikuchi. She has been fortunate to travel and support national team members at training camps, Canadians, World Cups, University Games and the World Championships.
Martha is a dedicated member of the IST for both MAG and WAG in their preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Dr. Mahmoud Zaerian, DC, CSCS, BA (Chiropractor)
Dr. Zaerian is the owner and operating doctor at FOCUS Integrative Therapy, where he practices as a chiropractor and provider of Contemporary Medical Acupuncture.
Complementing his manual medicine and acupuncture training, Dr. Z is also Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and has been working in the field of health and fitness for over 18 years working with some of the city’s top amateur athletes and national Olympians.
Dr. Z is a Neuro-functional Sports Performance Practitioner and is the course director at Advanced Therapeutic Programs, where he is the lead instructor in the delivery of advanced needling, assessment and rehab courses geared towards enhancing the skills of his peers.
Dr. Z has been teaching others for many years, previously as a senior instructor in the McMaster University Contemporary Medical Acupuncture course for 5 years before becoming the course director at Advanced Therapeutic Programs. His passion for teaching has him teaching other health professionals throughout Canada and Europe.
Outside of clinical practice and teaching courses to other health professionals, Dr. Z works as the lead medical director for the Men’s National Gymnastics team for Canada and one of the therapists for the Women’s National Gymnastics team, as well as a roster of therapists for Athletics Canada.
Dr. Z has utilized his background as a strength & conditioning specialist and research in the sport of gymnastics to produce The Gymnastics Manual, a comprehensive guide for coaches and athletes to gain and maintain range of motion and the enhancement of performance for gymnasts.
Jennifer Sygo M. Sc., RD, CSSD (Lead Dietitian)
After completing an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at McMaster University, Jennifer was awarded a Master of Science in Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, specializing in Nutrition, Exercise, and Metabolism from the University of Guelph.
Jennifer works with athletes and active individuals of all abilities, including Olympic medallist and athletes in the NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and professional tennis. She has provided nutrition services for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Triathlon Canada, and in addition to her work with gymnastics, she also serves as a sports dietitian for the Toronto Raptors, Athletics Canada, and Swimming Canada.
Jennifer has a special interest in athlete health and wellness, and has published research on the effects of weight changes and low energy availability on athlete health and performance. She has contributed to publications and lectures on behalf of the IOC’s Diploma in Sport Nutrition, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and numerous domestic and international conferences.
Jennifer’s nutrition expertise has routinely been featured in the media, including the National Post, the Toronto Star, and CBC’s The National. In 2014, Jennifer's first book, "Unmasking Superfoods", was published by HarperCollins Canada, and became a national best-seller.
Lori Dithurbide, PhD. (Mental Performance Consultant)
Dr. Lori Dithurbide is a faculty member in Kinesiology at the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University where she teaches classes and conducts research in the area of sport and performance psychology. In addition to her work at Dalhousie University, Lori is the Lead Mental Performance Consultant at the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic and consults with athletes of all ages and experiences on mental performance, helping athletes reach their potential. Lori holds Professional Membership with the Canadian Sport Psychology Association, and has consulted with athletes participating in a variety of sports including gymnastics, hockey, basketball, curling, figure skating, golf, canoe/kayak, sailing, track and field, among others.
Scott Willgress (Strength and Conditionning)
Scott holds a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Calgary. Scott has been working as a Strength & Conditioning Coach and physiologist at the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic in Halifax, NS since 2011. Alongside Olympians in Hockey, Boxing, and Sailing, Scott has been working with Ellie Black since 2012. He is currently part of the National IST for Softball Canada and Canoe Kayak Canada's Women's Kayak program.
When Scott was first exposed to the world of high performance sport he was inspired by the drive and determination of the athletes and coaches. He strives to improve knowledge and skill-set so he can help athletes and coaches achieve their goals.
Julia Spivak (Artistic Preparation / Choreography)
Julia Spivak is a well known Choreographer in the world of sports. She danced professionally with various performing artists in Israel, which helped broaden her dance horizons in various dance styles and techniques. In 2002, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Calgary. During her studies she focused on injury prevention, alignment, and healthy ways of moving, and began to share her expertise with the gymnastics world. Currently, Julia is working with athletes from various sports from the provincial to Olympic levels.
Over 20 years of study and experience in the field allows Julia to help athletes overcome flexibility, alignment, and artistic barriers to reach their full potential in their chosen sport. Her musical education and dance background allows her to create effective choreography and bring out the best dancer in each athlete. Gymnasts she works with frequently get acknowledged with Choreography Awards and exceptional artistry. She has done clinics and seminars for Gymnastics Canada, provincial gymnastics federations, and NCCP coaching certification courses. She also creates and supports artistic preparation programs for individual clubs and choreographs floor and beam routines all over Canada.
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