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Helping with brains and brawn

Former NFL player-turned-trainer now helps others

Posted: January 14, 2009 9:40 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Dr. Joe Keisel spent most of his life actively involved in athletics and now the 67-year-old resident uses his years of experience to help train others.

Dr. Joe Kiesel spent a lifetime learning how to stay. Now he uses that knowledge to help others get in shape.

The 67-year-old Valencia spark plug stands under six feet tall and weighs 165 pounds, but he can lift nearly five times his own weight, he said.

"I'm all natural, no steroids," Kiesel said.

Kiesel started lifting weights at 7-years-old and slowly transformed his slight body into an NFL offensive lineman.

"My father came back from the war (World War II) and told my mother their kids would be involved in sports," he said. Kiesel's dad built a weight room in the basement and he began pumping iron.

Kiesel played on the offensive line for Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh and earned a scholarship to college. By the time Kiesel finished college he was a 265-pound powerhouse.

Kiesel's father forged a relationship in the Pittsburgh steel mills that paid off for Kiesel.

"My father worked along side Johnny Unitas' father," he said.

Unitas, the Hall of Fame Baltimore Colts quarterback, is seven years older than Kiesel, but the families were close, he said.

"(Unitas) told me they would give me a chance after college," Kiesel said.

Kiesel tried out for the Baltimore Colts in 1966. His combination of strength and speed gave him an advantage over larger, but slower athletes, Kiesel said.

"I could push the seven-man sled with four coaches on it all by myself," he said.

Kiesel played from 1966 to 1968 with the Baltimore Colts. He left the team to pursue his dream of becoming a team doctor.

Kiesel earned a Master Degree in Divinity from Oral Roberts University and then a medical degree from Delphi Institute for Healing Arts, which is operated by the European Union.

Kiesel excelled in the classroom using the same determination he learned on the football field and in the weight room.

Kiesel helped introduce the benefits of weight training and flexibility to the Penn State football team in 1973.

The result was an undefeated season.

"There was a myth that you would end up muscle bound. Not true," Kiesel said.

More than muscle powered Kiesel's life. His faith also pushed him. "I serve Jesus Christ, the coach of all coaches," Kiesel said.

Kristina de Bree, 22 of Valencia, began training with him in December. She suffers from cystic fibrosis, which limits her ability to breathe.

That changed quickly when she began training with Kiesel.

"I breathe a lot better and cough a lot less," she said. "He is incredibly energetic and charismatic."


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