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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Teaching and Caring 
Shapes Physical 
Therapy Practice

Feb 05, 2016 09:42AM ● By Sheila Julson

Emily Yenor

As a youth, physical therapist Emily Yenor, owner of 1212 Bodyworks, had clear ideas of what she wanted to do in her adult years. “Whenever I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, it was always ‘a doctor, a teacher or a mom,’” Yenor reflects. “Being a physical therapist is a nice combination of all of those. I’m still in the medical field, but I can also educate people on how the body works, and I can take care of them and make them feel better, like a mom would.”

While attending McHenry High School, in McHenry, Illinois, Yenor considered medical school, but later learned about physical therapy through a student career shadow program. Intrigued by the work itself and the hours, which allow more of a work/life balance than a doctor’s schedule, she started on the path toward a career in physical therapy.

Yenor was accepted to the Marquette University physical therapist master’s degree program (now a doctoral program) and graduated in 1999. She returned to McHenry and worked for a local hospital, but realized that an inpatient setting wasn’t for her. Yenor also missed the friends she made in Milwaukee, so she returned in 2001.

In 2004, Yenor became curious about life on the West Coast. Through a travel assignment that arranged a temporary job and housing, she headed to Salinas, California. “Lots of the patients either worked in or owned one of the many produce fields, and they often brought in fresh produce for us—lettuce, avocados, artichokes and raspberries,” she fondly recalls. The experience furthered her interest in nutrition and wellness.

When Yenor returned to Milwaukee again, she worked at a fitness center-based physical therapy clinic. It was through those coworkers that she learned of Muscle Activation Technique (MAT), a method that treats muscular imbalances through a whole-body, holistic approach.

She started taking MAT classes and was enthralled by the commonsense approach of alleviating muscle pain by means other than just symptom management. Shortly after beginning classes, Yenor personally benefitted from MAT to relieve neck and shoulder injuries she sustained in a rollover car accident. “Through MAT, I felt better than before the accident,” she says.

Yenor completed a 10-month MAT internship in Chicago and became MAT-certified in 2010. Her patients made great strides through MAT, but it became difficult to offer it within the confines of the insurance industry, so she began seeing clients independently, without insurance.

1212 Bodyworks

In November 2014, Yenor opened her practice full time as 1212 Bodyworks. The name has special meaning: 12-12 is her birthday, and she also believes in the angel references to 1212 in numerology. “1212 reflects me, and bodyworks is a general term for the work that I do. I am a physical therapist, but also a muscle specialist.”

Her practice draws upon her physical therapy education and experience in terms of diagnosis and treatment plans, but she focuses on MAT as a holistic way of looking at the whole body. Yenor says she is currently the only physical therapist in Wisconsin to be certified in MAT. Her practice also features ISOPHIT, a piece of machinery invented by a Canadian MAT specialist to help isolate specific ranges of motion for stability and strengthening. “It’s very versatile and can accommodate or isolate different body parts,” she says.

Yenor sees people with advanced arthritis and pain issues, as well as athletes that want to enhance their sports performance and maintain wellness. She’s recently become a certified Healthy Foot practitioner through Nutritious Movement, a movement program formed by biomechanics specialist Katy Bowman. Healthy Foot emphasizes whole body alignment principles and selecting proper footwear.

Yenor offers active learning workshops such as Take a Stand Against Sitting, teaching people how to overcome adverse affects from today’s sedentary, gadget-focused lifestyle. She stays motivated by helping people understand body movement and how to make positive changes. “Seeing smiles on their faces motivates me to continue practicing what I do and to learn more, so I have more tools in my toolbox,” she says. Yenor also shares information on her blog,

In keeping with her childhood desires, Yenor is also mother to a 4-year-old son. Her family, along with their Bernese mountain dog, enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, nature and cooking.

1212 Bodyworks is located at 19601 W. Bluemound Rd., Ste. 100, in Brookfield. For more information, call 414-405-3956 or visit

Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-area freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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