Dolence Pushes Clients Toward Longevity

Phil Dolence working with a client.
Phil Dolence working with a client.
Phil Dolence working with a client.

By Michelle Trauring

It is safe for Phil Dolence to say that the majority of people are not at their peak physicality—and that’s okay, if what they strive for is longevity, not necessarily perfection.

But even longevity doesn’t come without its fair share of work, attention and awareness, he said.

“You’re going to age. The idea is to maintain, for as long as possible, a high level of functionality,” explained Mr. Dolence, who practices corrective exercise and massage at his eponymous studio in Sag Harbor. “That’s it. You accept that you’re going to age—we degrade, we degenerate—but you just try to delay the process.”

Phil Dolence works with a client on arm exercises.
Phil Dolence works with a client on arm exercises.

The goal is to simply be healthy and pain free, the formula for which varies from person to person, he said, though he often recommends exercising outside of the gym.

One of the easiest and least-strenuous ways is to go for a walk every day, he said. A daily walk to work doesn’t count, he said.

“You put the phone away and you go for that walk where you’re thinking differently because you’re not focusing on going anywhere,” he said. “On many levels, you have the physical benefit of walking, but one of the great things is that it’s very low intensity, so no damage is getting done.”

Exercise is a “three-edged sword,” Phil said. “The more you push, the stronger you get, but the closer you come to injury,” he explained. “If you have a regular walking routine, you’re really far from that injury spectrum and you’re actually getting a lot of benefit. It’s aerobic, you’re using your whole body, all the joints are in motion and then there’s the relaxation part of it, which is so important for your health. It’s good to just have that time. It’s hard in our busy lives to take that time out, but you have to try to fit it in.”

A graduate from the University of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania native holds a degree in psychology, but headed in a physical direction instead. He went back to school for massage and, combined with movement, found where he belonged, he said.

“If you do a massage, you can feel great afterwards, but incorporating personal training is really great,” he said. “It’s not a massage-massage. It’s quick, little rubs, and then you move on and exercise and strengthen it. That’s how you can move better for longer.”

Aside from keeping a healthy diet, longevity is also dependent on pursuing one’s passions. Activities his clients enjoy are endlessly important, he said.

“Some of them may be physical and they go in the same vein as the training. It might be a sport or horseback-riding or whatever, or it might be reading or studying something or socializing,” he said. “Whatever it might be, do things that you get satisfaction out of, something that feeds you on intellectual levels, spiritual levels. My focus is more on the physical level, but you have to look at the whole spiritual and emotional and intellectual parts of yourself. That’s the key.”

For more information about Phil Dolence, visit