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Portraits Rebecca Teagarden

Boyd Bender | He's on point for easing pain and strain

Boyd Bender has a healthy outlook on life. It's his job, health. As the physical therapist for the Pacific Northwest Ballet (and occasionally the Sonics and previously the PGA) he's on hand backstage to keep the dancers dancing — the pit-stop crew chief for sore muscles, strained ligaments and stressed tendons. Or worse.

Q: You've worked with athletes from ages 21 to 70. Who's the most, ah-hem, "strong-willed" of them all?

A: In any sport you'll find a few personalities like that. In ballet their careers are so short, and there are roles they want to dance. When they're injured they wonder, "Will this keep me from it?"

Q: What's your fitness routine? I mean, do you eat wheat? Chocolate? Sugar? Dairy?

A: (Physical therapist rolls eyes before answering.) I do everything. I struggle trying to do the right thing.

Q: What do you see in us when you walk down the street?

A: I remember growing up in a time with no Game Boys. We just went out and played. Now it seems we're so much more out of shape. It's the conditioning level more than anything. We need to be doing a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes walking, treadmill three to four times a week.

Q: What one thing should we do for ourselves?

A: Be passionate about what you do. That's it.

I still play basketball at least once a week with a group of people who've been playing together for the past 25 years. I work out so I can play basketball.

I tell my kids this: One cold December night in 1978 (when I was a physical therapy student), I saw Bruce Springsteen at the Seattle Center. I wasn't really into Springsteen that much, but I saw somebody enjoying what he did like it was the last show of his life. It was mesmerizing. It was a life-changing moment for me. That's passion.

You can go work out, but you'll burn out quickly if there isn't passion about what you're doing.

That's what I love about ballet dancers. They're all passionate.