Our Team


Athletic Therapy

Chiropractic Care

Custom-Built Orthotics

Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor

Optimal Therapies Team - Lake
Lake Zhu

Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor and Acupuncturist

  • Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Registered Acupuncturist
About Lake

Lake is a Registered Acupuncturist and a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He has been part of the Optimal Therapy team at MRU Wellness Services since 2013.

Lake diagnoses the root cause of a health issue through the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and treats patterns of disharmony in the related organs and their respective energetic meridians to help with the body's natural healing process. It is effective for wide range issues from stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, digestive disorders, fertility, headache, migraines, tension, stroke, PTSD, as well as treating any type of pain and injuries. Lake is a strong advocate of using simple, preventative and natural methods to maintain well-being to avoid complex health interventions.

Lake is also passionate about sharing well being with his community, and has been teaching Tai Chi, yoga and meditation with The City of Calgary and MRU Recreation since 2000.


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Athletic Therapists

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Jenelle McAllister

Certified Athletic Therapist

  • Certified Athletic Therapist, Canadian Athletic Therapists Association
  • Master of Science in Kinesiology: University of Calgary
  • Bachelor of Kinesiology: University of Calgary
About Jenelle

Jenelle has been a certified athletic therapist since 2000 and joined the Optimal Therapy team in 2008. Her primary areas of interest are knee injury and the spine but she treats a wide range of injuries in the sedentary patient, weekend warrior, and elite athlete. Jenelle trained as a "non-physician expert" in acute knee injuries with the Acute Knee Injury Clinic in 2014. She also worked extensively with knee osteoarthritis patients for 6 years and now runs a program for individuals with knee osteoarthritis, called knee'd.

Jenelle uses a varied treatment approach involving hands-on therapies, active rehabilitation strategies and patient education. She has completed courses in manual therapy techniques (Mulligan Concept, Graston soft tissue mobilization, osteopathic Muscle Energy), active rehabilitation techniques (McKenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy; McGill; functional spinal stabilization) and others (Strain-Counterstrain, Neuro-proprioceptive Taping, PowerFlex Taping). She is the only athletic therapist in Canada and one of only 10 health care providers in Alberta who is registered as a Bone Fit™ Trained Clinical Professional, a credential administered by Osteoporosis Canada, to assess/screen and manage people with osteoporosis.

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Optimal Therapies Team - Lee
Lee Mackenzie

Pedorthist and Athletic Therapist

  • Bachelor of Science: University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
About Lee

Lee is the owner of Footjax, and his mission is to help keep people active on their feet. Lee believes that an active lifestyle is not only healthy, but fun and fulfilling.

Two of Lee's main tools are custom foot orthotics, and the AlterG Anti-gravity treadmill. For more information about either of these visit www.footjax.com

Lee is a Certified Pedorthist with the Pedorthic Association of Canada and a Certified Athletic Therapist with the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association. He has a bachelor of science from the University of Calgary with a major in biomechanics and a minor in physical anthropology.

Lee has always had a significant preoccupation with sport and physical activity. This background gives Lee excellent insight into the specific demands of most sports and activities. Whether you walk to work, play field sports, run, bike, ski, hike, etc... Lee knows how to help make sure foot and lower body pain will not stand in your way.


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Optimal Therapies Team - Allison
Dr. Allison Gross


  • Doctor of Chiropractic (Summa Cum Laude): Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto
  • Bachelor of Science (Distinction): University of Alberta, Edmonton
About Allison
Dr. Gross has been in practice since 1997 and at MRU Wellness Services since 2002. She takes considerable pride in the fact that she provides comprehensive care using a variety of techniques in her practice and does not hesitate to refer to her colleagues. While improving spinal mobility and function is her primary focus, she also uses many different muscle therapy techniques such as kinesio taping, trigger point release, and Graston soft tissue mobilization to release scar tissue, adhesions, and tightness in muscles. Stretching and strengthening programs are also an important part of her comprehensive care program. She really enjoys the multidisciplinary collaboration amongst practitioners (medical doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, athletic therapists, and acupuncturists) here at Wellness Services.

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Optimal Therapies Team - David


Dr. David Opresnik


  • Doctor of Chiropractic (Summa Cum Laude): National College of Chiropractic, Chicago, Illinois
  • Bachelor of Science in Honours Biochemistry: University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Bachelor of Science (Magna Cum Laude) in Human Biology: National College of Chiropractic
About David
Dr. Opresnik started practice in January 2000 and has been grateful to have a career helping people every day. He became credentialed in Active Release Techniques in 1998 and has been using soft tissue therapies in combination with joint manipulation ever since. This has aided him in treating a wide variety of conditions: from sports-related injuries such as tendinosis, to the repetitive strain and postural problems that occur with prolonged computer use. Dr. Opresnik also incorporates the use of kinesiotape and instrument assisted Graston techniques into his treatment as clinically warranted.


He especially likes treating shoulder injuries, as the improvements can be rapid and stabilized well with rehabilitative exercises.

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Massage Therapists

Optimal Therapies Team - Nora
Nora Kowalsky

Registered Massage Therapist

  • Massage Therapy Certificate: Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta
  • Bachelor of Science (Cellular and Microbial Biology): University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
About Nora

Nora graduated in 2001 from the Massage Therapy certificate program at Mount Royal University, and has enjoyed a career of easing peoples' stress, aches and pains since then.

She brings to massage therapy a love of the biological sciences, especially of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. She states that the intricacies of our musculature, joints and ligaments, and the network of fascia that holds us together continually amazes her. Massage therapy is such a wonderful tool for easing the tight muscles, stiff joints and ligaments, and fascial restrictions that plague us all from time to time.

In massage therapy, her main focus is deep tissue massage, using traditional Swedish massage techniques, trigger point therapy, sports massage techniques and passive stretching.


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Optimal Therapies Team - Jo-Ella
Jo-Ella Kaminski

Registered Massage Therapist

  • Massage Therapy Certificate: Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta
About Jo-Ella
Jo-Ella has been in practice since 2008 and at MRU since the fall of 2011. Jo-Ella has worked with clients of all ages from children to seniors. Jo-Ella enjoys the challenge of treating different conditions, from the stressed office worker, to the injured athlete to pre- and post-operative clients. After having personal experience in receiving massage during and after four pregnancies, Jo-Ella was trained formally in prenatal massage and enjoys passing that experience and knowledge on to other moms-to-be. Jo-Ella completed training in Thai Mat Massage in December of 2015. A "homework" regime of stretching and strengthening exercises are a very important part of her treatment protocol.


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Optimal Therapies Team - Jennifer
Jennifer Garvin

Registered Massage Therapist

  • Massage Therapy Certificate: Okanagan Valley College, Vernon, British Columbia
  • Bachelor of Science: University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
About Jennifer

Jennifer is a graduate of the Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy in Vernon, BC. She also has her BSc. in Chemistry, Environmental Science and Geology from The University of Western Ontario. She has been practicing Massage Therapy since 1996. Jennifer decided to pursue a career in Massage Therapy because it combines her two loves - arts and sciences.

Jennifer encourages all her clients to be active participants in their healing process. As a practitioner she seeks to bring balance and harmony to mind, body and spirit through her use of a variety of techniques. She regularly uses Swedish, deep tissue, sports, therapeutic exercise, cranial sacral therapy, myofascial release and neuromuscular therapy techniques to unwind the tissues of the body to help her patients achieve their therapeutic goals. She loves working at Optimal Therapies as it allows her to integrate her care with the care of the other practitioners to help her patients. She prides herself on staying on top of current research and techniques and strives to think "outside the box" to create a unique treatment plan for each of her patients. As a mother of five kids, she is fantastic at organizing, being creative and understanding that we are never too busy to take care of ourselves.


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Jaida Green Barber

Registered Massage Therapist

More Information
Coming soon.



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Occupational Therapist

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Daniel Kim

Occupational Therapist

  • Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy: University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
More Information

Daniel graduated from the University of Alberta in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy. He worked in various inpatient and outpatient programs in his career. He has over 20 years of experience with general splinting and over 10 years in plastics/hand trauma therapy. He started working in Edmonton at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital, then spent 4 years in Toronto and then to Calgary.

He has a keen interest in hand therapy, but he also has plenty of experience with foot orthotics, geriatrics, cognitive testing and general medicine occupational therapy.

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Optimal Therapies Team - Barb
Barb Taxbock


  • Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy: University of Alberta (2003)
  • Bachelor of Kinesiology in Biomechanics (Hon): University of Calgary (2002)
  • Certified by the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute - CAFCI (2003)
  • Intramuscular Stimulation - IMS (2005)
  • Member of Spinal Manipulation Roster Of Physiotherapy Alberta (2008)
  • Pelvic Health Physiotherapist (2016)
About Barb

Barb has been practicing physiotherapy in Calgary since receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Physiotherapy in 2003. She enjoys working with a variety of populations from elite athletes to weekend warriors to desk jockeys. Barb looks for the root cause of a problem by using her biomechanics knowledge to analyze movement and muscle recruitment patterns. She enjoys working with the brain's role in creating compensation patterns and how to change these patterns in order to optimize function. She uses a combination of hands on manual therapy, IMS, acupuncture and specific exercise prescription. She also works as a pelvic health physiotherapist and uses this knowledge in treating all orthopaedic injuries.

MBarb spends her weekends skiing in the back-country, hiking, mountain biking, climbing and teaching her two young children a love for the outdoors.


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Optimal Therapies Team - Heather
Heather Haywood-Jirka


  • Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (Honours): Queen's University, Kingston
  • Member of Spinal Manipulation Roster Of Physiotherapy Alberta
About Heather

Heather started working at Mount Royal University in 2011. She has over 20 years of Physical Yherapy experience. After graduating from Queen's University in 1995, she spent 6 years practicing in a variety of settings in the United States before returning to her hometown of Calgary. Her diverse specialties include treatment of sports injuries, whiplash, chronic pain, frozen shoulder, headaches, spine disorders, gait and balance disturbances and vestibular dysfunction. She is a member of the Spinal Manipulation Roster of Physiotherapy Alberta. In addition to her work at MRU, Heather also has a mobile Physical Therapy practice to treat seniors in the community.

Her comprehensive continuing education courses in manual therapy have included craniosacral therapy, joint mobilization and manipulation, and vestibular rehabilitation. She has also completed numerous courses in core stability and sport-specific training for young athletes. Her approach to Physical Therapy is very hands-on and individualized, with an emphasis on manual therapy, patient education and exercise instruction. She has spent many years supervising practicum students and enjoys the opportunity to share her knowledge and experience. She strives to maintain an active lifestyle for herself through participation in a variety of sports and promotes healthy activities for her patients.


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Optimal Therapies Team - Laura
Laura Loturco


  • Bachelor in Science in Physical Therapy: Pontificia Universidade Católica de Campinas, Brazil
  • Certified Global Postural Re-education Practitioner - GPR
  • Member of Dry Needling Roster of Physiotherapy Alberta
More Information

Laura graduated in 2004 and worked in Brazil for 5 years before moving to Canada in 2009. She has been working at Mount Royal University since 2014.

Laura maintains an active interest in body mechanics, postural training and motor control. She implements a combination of manual therapy techniques and exercise-based therapy to assist patients in their recovery process. Laura is a strong believer in patient education and an individual approach to rehabilitation. She continues to further her education through courses and certificates relating to therapeutic exercise prescription, running injuries, movement assessment, postural training and scoliosis.

Laura loves to keep active with yoga, hiking, skiing and cross-country skiing.

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Optimal Therapies Team - Francesca
Francesca Simon

Wellness Services Administrator
Optimal Therapy and Health Services

  • B.Ed. (Phys Ed)
  • M.A (Exercise Physiology)
  • C.R.M. (Canadian Risk Management)
About Francesca
Francesca believes in promoting holistic wellness by offering clients options for health and healing that include complimentary and alternative medicines. Her interests center on traditional medicine wheel teachings of the elders which promote balance between the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental aspects of the person.


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Optimal Therapies Team - Francoise
Francoise Braz

Wellness Accounts Clerk

About Francoise

Francoise was born and raised in Brazil, moving to Canada in 2004. She left a brief career in law and came to find a new passion in the administrative field, more specifically in accounting. Francoise joined Optimal Therapy in 2007 as a casual employee and proudly became the lead administrative assistant in 2012. She takes pride in providing a welcoming clinic environment and focusing on customer service, and is looking forward to the challenge of a leadership role.

As a lifestyle, she believes in balance, not extremes - eating healthy but also enjoying good food guilt-free, exercising but also relaxing with family and friends, a great book or movie.


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Staff Photo
Maria Vaandering


About Maria
Maria is currently working towards several outdoor leadership certifications in the hopes of pursuing a career in the ecotourism industry. She started working at Optimal Therapies in June of 2012. She enjoys working here and loves the new challenges that arise on a day-to-day basis - after working in marketing research for almost 10 years it was a welcome change. In her spare time she enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, meeting new people, and spending time with friends and family.


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