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Dr. Kate LaVigne: Wellness in the Office, Classroom & Boxing Ring

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Government data estimates that most people will hold 12 jobs during their lives. After starting their first job after college, about a third of them will completely change their careers. Like most Americans, Dr. Kate LaVigne has had several different occupations, but she focuses on working several fields at once, as a chiropractor and a college faculty member. But she’s also landed a jarring hard right with her third job as a professional boxer. While it might be hard to marry the concept of boxing with that of a healthcare provider, Dr. LaVigne pulls no punches.

“There’s a big misconception about fighters and that they are violent or angry and get into street fights. But there’s so much sportsmanship in boxing. I don’t think of it as violence, I think of it as a sport. In every fight I’ve had, you hug your opponent at the end. I have never been in a fight that I’m not supposed to be in. I don’t want people telling me you’re so nice to talk to and you’re too pretty to box. I can still be the person who wants to box and help people by being a chiropractor,” noted Dr. LaVigne. “However, I try to take really good care of my health and be in control of any amount of the risk that there can be with boxing. I know there will come a time when I won’t be able to do this anymore, but if I get to decide that on my own terms, then that’s success for me.”

Amateur to Pro
Her professional boxing career began as all do, training as an amateur. In this case, the fellow boxers training in her workout group didn’t show up one evening. Not missing an opportunity, her coach decided to work with her one on one. He noted her exceptional abilities and encouraged her to consider adding pro boxer to her resume. “He would tell me that you’re gonna fight and I would say no, no thank you. I need my hands for my job. But in 2016, my mom passed away and I needed something to entertain my mind. So, I started sparring and it was fun. In July 2017, I had my first amateur fight, a tournament, which I can’t even believe that he let me do because I probably should not have been in a tournament for my very first fight. But I just loved it. So, I fought amateur until 2021 and I turned pro in May 2021.”

Professional boxing for Dr. LaVigne has been a worthwhile experience. While the money doesn’t match the earnings of male boxers, she can enjoy winning nice “purses” or payouts, and travel and expenses for her and her coach are covered. But Dr. LaVigne, who is in her mid-30s, says she is coming to the end of her pro career. “I hope I’ve got another good year or two in me. I’m about the average age of a female boxer. We can usually box a little bit longer than the men, which is nice. But I do know there will come a time when I want to do some other things. It’s a big-time commitment so I have to schedule my life around boxing. But there will come a time when I’m ready to hang it up.”

First Career
In December 2014, Dr. LaVigne graduated summa cum laude from Cleveland Chiropractic College Kansas City with her doctorate in chiropractic. She opened her practice, Complete Chiropractic and Wellness, in March 2015, as an independent contractor and part of Your Wellness Connection. But in August 2020, she took a leap of faith and moved into her solo practice in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Here, Dr. LaVigne can express her passion for helping others to experience their personal best and achieve wellness goals. To do that, she calls upon traditional chiropractic care, testing and nutritional guidance.

“I’ve been there. I’ve had times in my life where I haven’t felt the greatest, whether it’s been pain or injury or just kind of a little unhealthy in general. I get it and I’ve been able to just really work on my own health and figure out what works for me,” she revealed. “Having some relatability with my patients is what makes it exciting to go to work, to talk to people, to find out what they’ve got going on and how I can make it better. I have patients that have been with me for such a long time, nine or ten years. You get to know them and their families, so I never feel like I’m going to work, to be honest.”

Listening and Affirming
Her philosophy to obtain true wellness includes movement, nutrition, positive energy and mental health, and this is the focus of her practice as she works with patients to improve their overall health. Dr. LaVigne concentrates on understanding the concerns of her patients and then working with them to develop a pathway to better health inside and outside of her office.

“Some people are looking for a quick fix and trying to focus on one thing at a time when really our health and wellness follow you for your whole life. So, it’s not one moment, one time. Sure, you can pinpoint things to make that happen, but the whole thing is a journey that you go on and you have to keep making changes to keep up with it. Your body is not always going to need the same things. It depends on what’s going on in your life,” she remarked. “We have to keep focused on it and we have to listen to our bodies and acknowledge the changes. We have to consider that it’s not just your physical health, but your mental or your emotional health, too. So, you have to pay attention to each aspect because they’re connected. We can’t separate them. When people acknowledge that they have these different components, it’s really interesting when that clicks for them and they’re able to relate.”

There are many chiropractic offices in the Kansas City metro, but Dr. LaVigne believes what sets hers apart from the others is her active engagement with listening and solving issues with patients. “I would say the first thing that I do and I do well for people is to listen as to why they’re there,” shared Dr. LaVigne. “There are some people that come in, and they really just want you to help them with what is going on right in that moment, and that’s fine. But usually, if you do that for them, they come back later when they’re a little more ready to address other aspects of their health and be more proactive. But I think they appreciate that I listened to what they needed in that moment.”

Adjunct Career
In addition to her practice, Dr. LaVigne is on the faculty at Cleveland University-Kansas City, which began as a chiropractic college in 1922, which makes it one of the oldest nonprofit chiropractic colleges in the nation. The university has expanded its degrees to meet a wider range of healthcare careers while confirming that chiropractic remains a foundation program. Dr. LaVigne spends her time there as a clinician with about half of her day teaching and the rest of the time in her office.

“It’s refreshing to see younger people who are really excited about the profession and who can’t wait to have their opportunity to help people. When I was in school, I didn’t have a lot of clinicians or professors who were still actively practicing. Now, I’m able to share my personal work experiences with them. This helps the students tie in what they’re learning and practicing at school into real-life situations,” stated Dr. LaVigne. “It’s gratifying to me, and I get to keep up on what they’re currently teaching in school such as new technologies, therapies, techniques or science. Again, when I go there, I don’t really feel like I’m working.”

“Love What You Do!”
With ten years of running a successful chiropractic business under her belt, Dr. LaVigne offers this advice for others considering going out on their own and building a company. “Think about your reason for wanting to have your own business and set up your goals for how you’re going to get there. In my profession, chiropractors feel the only option is to start your own practice and that’s not necessarily true. Or sometimes people are like, ‘Well, I just don’t want to work for somebody else,’” she said. “If that’s really how you feel, that’s fine. But you have to be passionate about it and figure out where am I going with this, how am I going to get there and make all of that align.”

While one might consider someone working three different jobs as a glutton for punishment, Dr. LaVigne relishes her triple crown. She enhances her chiropractic career with self-care that comes from her pro boxing. Most importantly, she never feels as though she is working, even with three jobs.

“Don’t put yourself in a box and don’t be afraid to try things that you want to try. You don’t have to be one thing and you don’t have to be the same thing forever,” she stated. “The key is to take care of your body and health; you only get one shot and it’s hard to undo the mistakes. Your life as a whole will be better for it. For me, it’s always a good feeling to make people feel better, but I get a lot back from them too, the sense of community. When they refer other people to me, they trust me with their friends and their family, and I get an equal amount back from them. It’s an equal trade, which is nice.”