Special to Asbury Park Press
ALLENHURST - After growing up in Indiana, where he graduated from Franklin College with a degree in sociology and business, Chris Verdi’s dreams took him to the Great White Way.
But even as an actor in New York City who performed in movies and off-Broadway plays, his athletic past as a soccer player during his high school and college years came back to haunt him.
“I’d had back fusion surgery at 19 and it left me crooked and bent over time,” said the 49-year-old Asbury Park resident, who suffered from sciatica for the next 17 years. “While I was acting, I was waiting tables and cleaning houses on the side and my back was getting worse and worse.”
And even when he ultimately abandoned acting to become a certified personal trainer, “the exercise hurt more than helped,” he said.
All of that changed in the early 2000s, however, when Verdi saw a demonstration of Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT), a unique approach to assessing and correcting the muscular system developed by MAT founder Greg Roskopf.
“It was the opposite of everything I’d been trained about health and muscles and it provided relief and hope,” he said. “I knew right then that it was the way I would go.”
With money he inherited from his grandmother, Verdi pursued MAT training in Denver and got certified as a MAT specialist in 2007, launching his studio, Core Restore, in Asbury Park that year.
He was certified as a master in the practice in 2015 and in 2017 became New Jersey’s only Certified Master Specialist in MATRx, the elite next-generation of the practice (and one of only 68 Certified Master Specialists nationwide).
“MAT has helped me so much,” Verdi said of the impact the approach had on his back, life and health. “I’ve gained muscle, it’s completely changed my body’s response to stress, and I’m in much better shape overall.”
At his cozy 600 square-foot Allenhurst studio, which he moved to in 2014 and where he currently serves dozens of clients, “I look at the contractile efficiency of muscles, identify weak links in my clients’ muscular systems, and reactivate their ability to contract,” said Verdi.
He said that people can develop these weaknesses — reflected by such symptoms as tightness and pain — as a function of improper movement, poor posture and other bad habits, and the aging process.
“We work to stabilize the muscle system to build true strength and better handle the shock and stress of daily living,” he said.
Clients begin their Core Restore journey with a free consultation, during which Verdi listens to the issues they’re struggling with and shares the MAT philosophy.
“MAT isn’t for everybody, but if you’re committed to the process, you’ll get better,” Verdi said of the one-on-one, hour-long MAT sessions, which are priced at $175.
“We find weaknesses by conducting muscle testing and assessing different movements and range-of-motion issues, reactivate weak muscles by manually stimulating muscle insertion points, and then retest muscles to verify that the brain-muscle connections are strong,” Verdi said. “It’s like a rebooting of the computer — using MAT, we’re reconnecting the wires and reactivating muscle fibers so they can contract.”
Among trends, Verdi confirmed that chaos reigns in the fitness industry. “From a customer’s perspective, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding what to do and what not to do and a lot of different providers,” he said. “In the end, a lot of people are desperate for help because the techniques being offered out there don’t always address their issues.”
Such was the situation for Colts Neck resident J.P. Albano, a 37-year-old multifamily real estate developer who learned of Core Restore through another wellness provider in 2015.
“I’d injured my elbow through workouts and, though I tried everything, including ultrasound and Active Release Techniques (ART), I hit a wall with my rehab,” Albano said.
After a two-hour assessment at Core Restore, however, “Chris identified seven areas of weakness throughout my body that were contributing to my elbow issues and after three MAT sessions I noticed a definite difference and felt better." he said. "He isolates muscles he’s working on by applying pressure to muscle insertion points, which creates near-instantaneous relief, and since then my whole body feels better and all of my muscles are functioning properly.”
Today, Albano continues to visit Core Restore every few weeks for “tune-ups” and said that not only has his whole physiological health improved but that he recovers from workouts faster. “Chris is very knowledgeable and passionate about what he does and I’m so glad he started his studio,” he said. “Clients have to put in the work, but they’ll see improvements in a short period of time.”
Though Verdi acknowledged that it can be hard to get people to embrace and commit to MAT because it’s such an out-of-the-box approach that most are unfamiliar with, “I’m truly passionate about it because it works,” he said.
Supported by two helpers at the studio as well as his husband Bill, Verdi is excited to take Core Restore to the next level.
“I recently patented my own movement training system on a specially designed apparatus called the ‘Core Restore Training System’ and I’m thrilled to be able to offer hour-long sessions on the CRTS for $75 starting this October,” he said.
During those sessions, “we teach body awareness through muscle contraction and have specific exercises for the upper and lower body, hands and feet, posture and much more. These workouts holistically prepare people for movement and exercise and are great for anyone who loves to exercise and wants longevity in sports and life as well as those who haven’t found relief for their issues elsewhere.”
As he continues to expand his network of clients and fellow wellness providers, Verdi takes pride in the positive effect his MAT approach is having on lives throughout the Shore.
“It makes me feel good to help people through something I started from scratch,” he said. “Problems create opportunities, and my own injuries and situation made me more empathetic and humbler. I feel privileged to have such great clients, and I’m excited to help more and more people experience this level of wellness.”
Location: 560 Main St., Allenhurst
Owner: Chris Verdi