Our Team


Smart Athlete PT has put together a collection of Raleigh’s most experienced physios in treating athletes and over-use injuries.  Upon your introductory call to Smart Athlete we figure out which physio you best match up with to maximize your time with us.

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Jeff Vajay is the founder of Smart Athlete Physiotherapy and a lifelong athlete.  A four year starter for the Quinnipiac University tennis team and an inductee to the university’s athletic hall of fame, Jeff had more than his share of sports-related injuries and long recovery times.  When he graduated with his physical therapy degree, he knew he wanted to help athletes recover faster, so they could return to competition stronger than before. 

And Jeff has been doing just that. For nearly two decades, Jeff has worked with athletes from the NHL, NFL, NBA, ATP, WTA, MLB and US Olympic Track and Field, as well as various college athletes.  He’s spent four years as a sports medicine therapist for the United States Tennis Association Men’s Professional Circuit and currently travels internationally as a Physiotherapist with the ATP World Tour.

Since the beginning of his career, Jeff’s goal has been getting his patients back to doing what they love, whether it’s sports or simply walking their dog.  But despite his success, Jeff became frustrated with the limitations of traditional physical therapy clinics.  After helping start multiple successful traditional physical therapy clinics in the area he decided to open his vision of what physiotherapy should be. To further differentiate from the traditional model he helped develop PtEverywhere, a cross-platform practice management solution for cash based providers that improves patient outcomes and connectivity to their provider.

Education: BS Physical Therapy Quinnipiac University
Specialty/Related Work: Kineticore Functional Dry Needling Certified • MyoPain Dry Needling Certified • American Academy of Manipulative Therapy • Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) • Active Release • Kinesio Taping • Post - operative sports rehab • Video Analysis • Speed Mechanics/Movement Training Specialist • Functional Movement Screen (FMS) • Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA)

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Michael Vita is the co-founder of Smart Athlete Physiotherapy and has been practicing in the areas of orthopaedics and electrophysiology over the last 19 years.  He utilizes his wide array of knowledge in these areas to the benefit of the client. 

Michael has worked with clients ranging from chronic pain patients to amateur and professional athletes.  He utilizes his extensive continuing education from the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) to guide decision-making, and monitor progression objectively, so that clients can actually feel and see when things are improving.  Michael incorporates various evidence-based approaches to evaluation and treatments including PRI, SFMA, Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), Mulligan’s techniques, Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), Trigger Point Dry Needling, cupping, and KT taping techniques.

He believes that comprehensive patient education, active role taking in the rehabilitation process, and consideration of the client, as a whole is important to realize the long-term benefits of treatment.  When communicating with all clients he aims to educate you about how your body works.  He will show you how we all have the ability to re-educate our mind and body to create optimal outcomes.

Michael received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at Utica College of Syracuse University in 1998, where he also played lacrosse.  He received his transitional doctorate of Physical Therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 2010. He also attended Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions for studies in Clinical Electrophysiology as a Doctor of Science candidate from 2005-2012.  He obtained his Electrophysiologic Clinical Specialist designation from the American Board of Physical Therapy Examiners in 2007.

Education: Rocky Mountain University, DPT
Specialty/Related Work: Electrophysiological Clinical Specialist (ECS) Certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties • Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) Level I • Titleist Performance Institute –Medical Professional Level I • Basic and advanced course work presented by the Postural Restoration Institute • Kinesio Taping •Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Massage (IASTM) • Post-Operative Rehabilitation • Manual Orthopedic Therapy Techniques • Dry Needling

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JP web head shot

Jon Paryz, co-owner of Smart Athlete earned his Physical Therapy degree from Daemen College in Amherst, NY in 1993 and became NSCA Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist in 2002. Specializing in sports medicine, manual therapy and general orthopedics, he focuses his treatment of the body as a whole and on re-educating proper movement patterns. He believes a proper and thorough evaluation to identify the source of the patient's dysfunction and symptoms is the key to long-term relief and assists in prevention of re-injury. Utilizing functional manual therapy as well as patient education he is able to help achieve his patients' goals and speed the recovery process. 

Jon has continued to advance his manual skills, training and education by studying multiple approaches to physical therapy specializing in Dry Needling from Kinetacore, manual techniques from Maitland Institute and Institute of Physical Art (IPA) as well as functional movement approaches from the Postural Restoration Institute(PRI), McKenzie, Gary Gray PT,  and many others.

Jon began his career in Florida where his love of sports medicine intensified working with professional, collegiate and HS athletes. Jon worked with touring tennis professionals and top-ranked juniors from both the Saddlebrook and Palmer Academies. He has taught national seminars to other physical therapists on how to evaluate and treat the tennis athlete and the bio-mechanics of tennis. He is passionate about working with new and seasoned athletes specializing in tennis players, runners and triathletes. In addition to working with top-ranked ATP and WTA professionals, he has worked with athletes from all major sports, including the NCAA, NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, Arena Football, LPGA, US and Foreign Olympic teams and served as one of the physical therapy providers for the Carolina Ballet for 5 years. 

Jon lectures and teaches seminars on running biomechanics, injury prevention and plyometric training. Jon is skilled in evaluation and fitting of temporary shoe postings, permanent orthotics and proper footwear selection to normalize foot and ankle biomechanics and allow for more efficient movement patterns. He offers video analysis and functional exercise to aid in athletes rehabilitation and performance enhancement.

Jon is also currently working as a physiotherapist on the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Tour and a self-proclaimed and proud PT geek. He loves discussing and reading up on the latest trends and approaches in therapy and sports training. Originally from the Buffalo, New York area, he and Debbie have fallen in love with North Carolina, where they stay active and raise their 2 boys Tyler and Josh. Jon enjoys staying fit by cycling, running, playing tennis,  practicing yoga and competing in triathlons including B2B, the Raleigh 70.3 and Ironman Lake Placid. 

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Holly Durney has worked in the areas of orthopedics and pelvic health for 10 years. She utilizes her knowledge of orthopedics to treat patients pelvic pain, pre and post natal issues, and incontinence.

Holly is an APTA Orthopedic Certified Specialist and has pelvic floor rehabilitation training from the Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute. Her pelvic health training focuses on treating pelvic floor dysfunction and related issues in the pelvis, hip, and spine. Her pelvic floor treatments involve assessment including movement patterns, ligament structure, current activity level, and pregnancy history. She believes that treating the whole person is the key to complete health and wellness and to help her patients achieve their goals.

Holly has continued to advance her manual skills with a certification in dry needling through Kinetacore and additional courses through the Maitland and McKenzie Institutes. She also is a certified Kinesiotaping practitioner with additional training in the treatment of TMD and cervicogenic headaches through the use of craniosacral therapy and upper cervical manual techniques.

Along with pelvic health, Holly has a strong background in treating performing artists including figure skaters, ballet dancers, Irish dancers, and Broadway performers. She began her career in northern Virginia working backstage with the Washington ballet with Body Dynamics, Inc. Through her work with dancers, she developed a passion for the treatment of the hypermobile patient. She has pursued this passion by instructing a continuing education course on Fibromyalgia and Hypermobility Syndrome to PTs, OTs, and PTAs at Maryland Allegany College and Anne Arundel Community College. Holly continues to work to incorporate recent evidence on the use of aerobic exercise in the treatment of Fibromyalgia patients along with  pelvic stabilization for hypermobility and Ehlers Danlos patients.

She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Columbia University in 2009 with emphasis in orthopedics. During graduate school, she also worked as a NASM certified personal trainer at the New York Sports Club in midtown Manhattan performing one-on-one training as well as boot camp Central Park sessions. Holly received her Bachelor’s of Science from Wake Forest University in 2006 where she also played club tennis, rode on the equestrian team, and worked as a student athletic trainer.

In addition to her daily work, Holly is passionate about providing medical care to the less fortunate with recent trips to Honduras and Belize to provide free physical therapy in clinics and homes within the surrounding impoverished communities. She hopes to treat in free clinics in Haiti in the future. Holly is a Raleigh native and currently lives in Five Points with her husband, step son, and giant German Shepherd. She enjoys running, Pilates, and horseback riding as well as frequent trips to Emerald Isle. 

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Quentin Guichard is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  He leads our Sports Performance Training and Tennis Performance Training programs. Quentin grew up in the French Alps, and although skiing is part of his DNA, tennis is what brought him to the U.S. in 2004. He played Division I college tennis for Charleston Southern University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business and a Master of Business Administration. During his tenure at CSU, Quentin played #1 singles all four years, was MVP three years and All Conference doubles two years. He was a teaching pro at North Ridge Country Club and the assistant tennis coach at CSU during his MBA. In addition to tennis, Quentin competed in obstacle course racing for several years. He is also passionate about CrossFit and holds a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer certificate. All three sports have exposed Quentin to the many dimensions of sports performance: agility, speed, strength, power, and endurance. Quentin's ultimate goal as a coach is to help people maximize their potential while preventing injury-related setbacks. He firmly believes that his athletes can accomplish this through perfect technique, proper stimulus, accessory training, and a focus on overall health. Quentin lives in Durham with his wife, Lauriane, and their son, Axell.

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Suzanne Blakeney has worked in sports medicine and orthopedics for the past 8 years following her graduation in 2012. She specializes in orthopedics, manual therapy, and sports performance to help optimize movement and recovery for her patients. Her skill set is focused on her passions in areas such as injury recovery and prevention, running and swimming analysis, and concussion management. These interests have afforded her the opportunity to work with all levels of athletes, from professional athletes and Olympians, to local high schools, sport clubs, and the weekend warriors.
Suzanne holds multiple certifications to help her efficiently and effectively treat her patients, returning them to the things they love to do. She is certified in NSCA strength and conditioning, running gait and swim stroke analysis and re-education, performance training, Functional Movement Systems testing. She serves as the only ImPACT certified concussion treatment provider in the area. To support her client’s needs in manual therapy, Suzanne has certifications in dry needling, Grastom (IASTM) technique, and Maitland manual treatments as well as other functional movement approaches.
Suzanne's interests in physical fitness have always guided her career. After graduating from James Madison University in 2008 she was a personal trainer and exercise instructor for 5 years, and well as a swimming instructor and coach for 4 years prior to graduate school. She was a competitive swimmer, and currently competes in triathlons and running races. Suzanne uses her background as a swimmer and runner to help connect to her patients and develop effective interventions that are tailored to the specific needs of the endurance athlete. She enjoys community outreach and education to help those around her achieve their best level of function and has presented clinics on gait analysis and re-education.
Suzanne lives in Raleigh with her husband and dog. She enjoys running, swimming, playing adult league soccer, and aerial acrobatics because it’s never too late to run away and join the circus.

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Dr. Elaine Lawrie has led her own Chiropractic practice in Raleigh, NC for the past 10 years.  Originally from Toronto Ontario, she graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science, Physiology degree and then graduated from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College with a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree. As a lifelong athlete and competitive runner, she personally values and understands the role chiropractic care has played in allowing her to continue to run and compete for over 30 years in distances from the middle distance track in high school and university to the NYC marathon as a masters runner.

Dr. Elaine Lawrie holds multiple certifications to help her efficiently and effectively treat her patients:
Certified Full Body Active Release Technique Provider,
Certified Medical Acupuncture ,
Certified Functional Anatomy Seminars - FRA, FRR, FRC,
SFMA Level 1,
Fascial Abrasion Technique F.A.T.  

Elaine’s treatment philosophy is simple - to help patients move better so they can perform their sport, job or daily activities at their best. Elaine uses a variety of techniques including Active Release Technique (activerelease.com), Functional Range Release and Conditioning (www.functionalanatomyseminars.com), manipulation/mobilization, Contemporary Medical Acupuncture and exercise with the goal of helping patient return to optimal health, allowing them to do what they love. Elaine has experience working with a variety of patients including high performance athletes including but not limited to NHL athletes and professional track sprinters. 

Elaine lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughter.  You will often find her out running with friends and competing in local races. She loves to be outside cycling, walking her dog, and be on the sidelines of the hockey rink, soccer field and track cheering on her daughter. 

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