Science and Training for Adventures


Dr. Bookspan's Extreme Research

My work is the study of the human body in extremes of environment: cold, heat, altitude, immersion, G-forces, micro-gravity, forensics, military maneuvers, exercise, high and low air pressures (hypobarics and hyperbarics) - how to survive and perform better in these environments and fix injuries from them. As a child, I played in the snow in a bathing suit while my father and grandfather walked barefoot over ice and snow to go ocean swimming every day. Joining them was a treat. My grandfather was the oldest member of "The Icebergs" ice swimming club.

Capt. Jim Caruso, MC, US Navy Undersea Medical Officer, took this arctic photo of me, "out standing in my field."

Scroll down for photos and free articles about it all from high to low. Don't miss the Dancing Penguin bio link at the end.

Site Map at the bottom of this page for links to the rest of my large fun web site, plus buttons to SHARE, TWEET, and LIKE.



Fixing Injury and Pain Research
Function In Exercise, Better Biomechanics, and Top Training

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Research scientist in extreme environments”]

My career as research physiologist took me to military, university, and training centers from undersea to mountaintop to jet cockpit. I was given the toughest assignments to find why common training and rehabilitation methods don't work, and what does. Strong brave men got hazardous duty pay just to have a day with me. Methods I developed are now learned in school by doctors, trainers, physical therapists, Navy divers, chamber operators, combat swimmers, police and military, and top athletes.

Doctors and trainers come to me as patients to find out why they have pain, and what to do about it. Click here for Healthier Training, and here for Appointment Info for yourself or your groups.

I was the first to put fitness programs aboard cruise ships, and was told it would "never catch on" - photos and stories below, keep scrolling.

Dr. Bookspan photo by Robert Troia. Click the Bio page for the story.



"It seems the movie heroine Laura Croft, played by Angelina Jolie, was created based on you.
In case you didn't see it, think of Indiana Jones."
- Karen Kukurin, Los Angeles



Free Articles

Fix Pain And Change Fitness And Medicine To Be Healthy - Not All Exercise Is Medicine

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan and eagle friend”]

I put some of my articles on fixing pain, free, here on my web site. They grew from patient handouts that physician colleagues asked me to write to replace the ones they used.


Fix Pain

NECK pain

BACK pain

Fixing main causes of KNEE pain

DISC pain and sciatica

Fixing SWAYBACK and SacroIliac Pain, and pain with long standing and walking.

Healthier pain-free SITTING


Saner, Smarter, Healthier Fitness


Training for MENTAL and EMOTIONAL health


Humor. My Fixa U Department of Silly Syndromes.

Martial Arts. Here are the class syllabus pages for Kick Boxing, Karate, and Healthier Yoga.


Abdominal And Core Muscle Function

Fixing SWAYBACK and SacroIliac Pain, and pain with long standing and walking.

Years in the lab to study what abdominal muscles really do, why crunches and flexion-based abdominal training weren't helping as hoped, and what was found to work better: studies and background is on the Ab Syllabus


Lower Body Function And Healthiest Movement

More years of lab and field research developing methods to fix lower limb and knee pain in the way you actually need to move and function. See the results, including summary of one 11 year study: Click the Lower Body Revolution Syllabus.



My years of laboratory research, measuring and testing hundreds of subjects, found no relation between hamstring flexibility and back pain. That finding wasn't given notice until other names in sports medicine found the same: Here's some of my research on What Hamstrings Have To Do With Back Pain.


Nutrition - Healthier for You And The People Who Work To Bring It To You

Healthier Nutrition


How My Patients And Students Get Better

Patient Successes and True Stories


Thai Massage

In Thai massage, also called Thai Yoga Massage, you wear comfortable clothes and bare feet to receive wonderful stretches and presses to your legs, feet, arms, hands, back, and whole body. I worked years to understand which claims were wishful thinking and exaggerations, and how to do techniques that can benefit without causing more problems. Read about it, plus how to schedule a great-feeling session for yourself or friend, on my Thai Massage page.


More Articles, How to Get Appointments, Making Life Simpler And Healthier

See my Clinical Page.






One of my readers sent me this picture that her young daughter Mina drew of me. I am thrilled and proud of her. Thank you Mina and family:




The information you need, easy-to-read, portable, all in one fix-it.


ALT =[“Fix Your Own Pain Without Drugs or Surgery by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Fix causes using scientific methods you can do yourself. Available from author web site”]      ALT =[“Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Effective quick methods for healthier range of motion during daily life, sports, exercise, and at home. Available from author web site”]     ALT =[“Healthy Martial Arts by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Training for all athletes in all sports, body and mind. More on author web site”]       ALT =[“Health and Fitness in Plain English - How To Be Healthy Happy and Fit For The Rest Of Your Life by Dr. Jolie Bookspan THIRD edition. Available from author web site”]     ALT =[“The Ab Revolution 4th Edition by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Replaces all earlier editions. Available from author web site”]       ALT =[“Diving Physiology in Plain English - 8th edition Blue Cover Edition: by Dr. Jolie Bookspan”]     ALT =[“Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Review For Physicians Board Exam Guide by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Available from author web site”]  



My Credentials

I never thought it mattered to tell about myself. After all, it's my work that matters - what I can do for you. Students told me it helped them to know about me. This page that you are on now tells some of the interesting work. See the following two pages for more:

The Bio page has some of my schooling, and a photo of me at age 9 winning the science fair - your entertainment at my expense.

The Rare Photos page has some stories of my early work, how I put the first fitness programs on cruise ships, and the years after the accident - "The years I thought I'd never mention again."


 ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan barefoot climbing”]


On Aug 22, 2016, Christine G. wrote:

"Your web site is a library full of information that everyone needs to see, learn and practice. Thank you for providing so much lifesaving information."



Diving, Hyperbarics, Altitude, and Extreme Environment Research


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan at work at the UPenn Hyperbaric chambers”]   

Conducting altitude decompression studies at UPenn Medical School.   


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan free-diving to set an artificial mooring”]

Free-diving to check permanent moorings we created for the pioneering program preventing anchor damage.


Ever since I was small, I wanted to study science under the sea. I grew up to study decompression physiology, diving maneuvers and countermeasures for SEAL teams and combat swimmers, oxygen toxicity and exercise during submersion. I lived and worked in laboratories underwater, ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan scuba diving with a funny shark”]competed in cold water middle distance swims, taught SCUBA, studied the Ama-San diving women of Japan, and researched barometric effects on human performance. I studied combat swimmers and did extreme swims with them for fun. For military survival protocols, we blasted pilots in ejection towers and spun them in centrifuges and other scientific thing-a-ma-bobs. I put men in vats of freezing water to see how we can keep pilots alive after bail-outs and how to get covert swimmers to their objective, and, I found out, an entire separate topic to get them back again.

I was a SCUBA instructor, and later a hyperbaric researcher working at an underwater lab studying saturation decompression. We opened valves of full scuba tanks and rode them underwater and at the surface like bucking broncos. I studied thermal and decompression protocols with the top developers of computer-modeled cold prediction programming of the day. We made rebreathers out of hot water bottles. We rode bikes underwater.


I found a bubble component to altitude sickness - back in the 1980s and 1990s. I wrote a grant to get the study, and used Doppler ultrasound to detect and score decompression bubbles developed in the bloodstream during altitude exposure during actual flights. In my first tests, a friend pilot flew us in a Comanche. I Dopplered us both during several flights. Before my work, bubbles were assumed to occur only after ascent from underwater to surface. Altitude sickness was assumed to be from hypoxia. I found bubbles when going to altitude from sea level.

With this "pilot" data, I did more work to study bubbles in human subjects using a hypobaric chamber (altitude chamber) to simulate specific altitudes, and at specific speeds of ascent.

I reported findings to the division where I worked as US Navy research physiologist. They did not like it at all because it would fix some errors and the US Navy has no errors. I published some declassified info in articles for dive and wilderness medicine magazines.


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan studying Doppler decompression bubbles on pilots during actual test flights”]

Before digital cameras, you waited to develop the film to see what you took. In this photo we are in flight. I am removing a precordial (chest) monitor from myself. The lab reversed the print, making it look like I sat left seat (pilot). Funny.



Diving and Aerospace Medicine Stories

Click here for Higher, Deeper, Smarter - My Work In Aviation, Aerospace, Diving, and Hyperbarics



SCUBA, Hyperbarics, Extreme Environments, From My Column, The Fitness Fixer

The Fitness Fixer was my column on Healthline from 2006 to 2010 - almost 800 articles. Healthline ended my column in 2010 and removed most photos, all movies, and reader comments. Later, they removed almost all the articles and redirected my links to their own articles. I found some original articles remain on the BlogSpot archive which was used to upload my articles to them. Format is not pretty as it once was, but the words are mostly there. I hope these still load, let me know:

SCUBA DIVING SCIENCE and MEDICINE. Click this for at least some of the SCUBA articles together on one page:




HYPERBARIC science and medicine - hyperbarics.




PULMONARY EDEMA/OEDEMA science and medicine - pulmonary edema.


COLD TEMPERATURE science and medicine - cold.


HEAT science and medicine - exercise in the heat.




ALTITUDE - altitude.


g-FORCE and ACCELERATION science - g-forces.


MARTIAL ARTS - Have fun checking around this great resource: martial arts


FORENSIC science and medicine - forensics.

I am Science Officer for the Vidocq Society (I'm "The Spock of Vidocq"). An international cold case think-tank, only allowing 82 full members - I was honored when they told me that when Vidocq has a case involving severe environment (aviation / cold, etc.) I am called in and they say, "She's the Man!"  For books about us, see The Murder Room, The Girl With the Crooked Nose, and other creepy true forensics books on my BOOKS page.

Photo below - my favorite lab partner for some of my work studying long exposures to heat at elevation.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan with camel friend during study of heat and desert exposure”]


Diving and Hyperbaric Books

Diving Physiology in Plain English. For all levels of diver, dive instructors, rescue, and others interested in scuba medicine and science.

Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Review For Physicians. For physicians who want a handy review and summary of all hyperbaric medicine, and to prepare for board exams in hyperbarics.

Hyperbaric Medical Review For Board Certification Exams, CHT/CHRN. Hyperbaric chamber technicians and nurses saw the physicians book and asked for their own separate edition to prepare for certification and know their stuff.

ALT =[Diving Physiology in Plain English - new eighth edition 2021 with Blue Cover and white text: by Dr. Jolie Bookspan]      ALT =[“Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Review For Physicians Board Exam Guide by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Available from author web site”]

See all my books and other fun things on the BOOKS page.



In the photo below, I am in a hyperbaric chamber just before they sealed the hatch. Hair pulled back, for certification testing on intubation and I.V. skills during one of the first certification courses in Hyperbaric Chamber Operations. A long time ago with Dick Rutkowski's Hyperbarics International.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan during training for hyperbaric chamber medical operations”]



"Dr. Bookspan, How could we forget the best of the best? Thanks for all your years of service."
- Randy Shaw, National Association of SCUBA Instructors (NAUI Worldwide) Training Department



I Test On Humans

No non-human animals are hurt in my work, or used at all (except those wanting to play fetch or sit in my lab coat pockets munching seeds). I have lost grants and been turned down by medical schools of my choice for my work advancing knowledge directly applicable to humans (not testing on animals). Healthy Green Medicine.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan and snakey friend”]



My Teaching Characters - Backman! and SPOT The Anomaly!

Backman! I draw Backman! to demonstrate concepts in my books, articles, classes, and other works. He is a funny, warm, copyright character loved by readers for simple helpful fixes. My readers had a contest to name him, described on the Academy page.



Dog. Behind the scenes, Dog helped, unnamed, until the contest to name him was won by a reader who often sends in great ideas, and wanted to remain anonymous except for first initial. Congratulations Anonymous J for letting us know that dog's name is SPOT The Anomaly! I have been drawing him into class topics and quizzes where students need to assess movement, sitting, and gait, and SPOT The Anomaly! He pops up from his hiding SPOT to help when needed.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan's teaching dog, SPOT The Anomaly!: Copyright. Come meet him as he helps you SPOT causes of pain and how to fix them -"]

SPOT The Anomaly!


Come to class to meet him, and see if you can SPOT him on this web site in some of the articles on fixing pain. He is our new star.



Diving Education

See my Diving and Aerospace Medicine page.

Watch this space for more. I am working on a public education program about diving and hyperbarics. Qualified practitioners are invited to apply to contribute in their specialty.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan swimming with the elephants to help keep them cool”]


"I can call you the "Peaceful Warrior" and defender of all that is good in this world. Keep up the good work Paladin"
- Derek Barrett



Dr. Bookspan's Academy - The Fixa U (TM) School of Healthy Medicine

ALT =[“Dr. Bookspan's Academy of FUnctional Exercise Medicine: Dr. Bookspan's School of Healthy Medicine”]


Not all exercise is medicine. Not all medicine is healthy. We change that. Real life movement habits (function) is retrained to stop causes of pain, restore mobility, and increase strength, independence, and fun.

We develop and provide world health programs for people and communities, green fitness, no-cost preventive medicine, innovations in training, certifications, Fellow advancement, more.

Instead of membership "dues" there are "do's" - to do good. Join the fun. Come be a part of making yourself and the Earth better through my Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine.

ALT =[“Dr. Bookspan's Fixa U School of Healthy Medicine: Dr. Bookspan's School of Healthy Medicine”]



The Fitness Fixer
My Former Column of nearly 800 Articles, plus Twitter

When Medicine and FItness Aren't Healthy, We Fix It, and Boy Do They Need it


For more than four years, it was my great joy to bring my column "The Fitness Fixer" (tm) to, providing close to 800 articles - not repeating what "everyone" says, but primary source research and information. My original research and innovations in improving fitness and medicine to be healthy, developed through years of study with thousands of patients and students. I developed no-cost health for people and communities to be healthier stronger happier, not through sets and reps of artificial "moves" or burning electricity for artificial gym equipment, but healthier movement and everyday actions.

When Healthline stopped running my column in 2010, the company kept some of the articles at first, but removed all the movies I had made specifically for understanding the concepts, the interesting reader questions and my answers, and almost all my photos and illustrations. They also removed "label" tags which would have allowed you to click a topic label to group all the many articles about one topic together on one page. In 2012, for some reason, they cut each of the nearly 800 articles into two-page articles, but changed many of them so the end is at the beginning,  with reference end-links in the introduction making many unintelligible. Later, they started removing more and more of the original articles in favor of their own, which sell their products. Links to my articles often redirect to them. I am updating hundreds of the links I made on this site to my Fitness Fixers so that they point to the originals on Blogspot or here on my site, but it is taking time. Most of the articles are now gone.

If you are a major Health Source who would like to run or syndicate this top column, tell me about your ideas - SyndicateTheFitnessFixer @


INDEX of Articles. Here is a page with almost all the Fitness Fixer article topics - Fitness Fixer Index.

Some Examples: Below, I used to list many of the most popular articles. Healthline replaced them with their own which sell their products. I had hoped my articles would be an enduring free resource, but it turned out not to be. The BlogSpot archive is not as pretty, and I can't edit any broken links. I hope they are still there when you click:


I found an archive of my Fitness Fixers on Blogspot, that, for now, allows my Label tag to group many of my Fitness Fixers about surgery. Let me know if this still works:


Don't limit the person to limit the pain -

Here is the Blogspot archive of several aging articles together:


A collection of several articles helping Military Fitness -


MARTIAL ARTS - Is Bad Martial Arts Good Exercise?
Here is the Blogspot archive of several articles on improving martial arts -


Here is an archive on Blogspot that, for now, has several articles on the topic together on one page. Let me know if this still works:


The Blogspot collection of helpful Fitness Fixers on understanding and fixing discs -


FACET Joint, SI and "Mystery" Lower Back Pain
Achive on Blogspot that, last I checked, shows a page with several articles on this topic together, plus some of the original photos. Let me know if this still works:




Let me know if this archive on Blogspot still shows a collection of my Fitness Fixers on Sitting, and if you can see the photos:


Healthline removed my articles. Click my web page on Fitness as a Lifestyle to see how to build balance into daily life.


The Hype and the Facts:


Here is my page
with short articles for mental and emotional health.


SOME OF THE FIRST MOTION CAPTURE STUDIES - Rocky Movie Computer Fight Simulation. My small contribution. Look for it on my Karate page.


PARCOURS - Dr. Bookspan's Bush-Bash
I taught Parcours/ Free running in the 1980s and later put the fun stories on my Fitness Fixer column. (sorry, the company first took off all my photos, then removed the articles). Come to my CLASSES for learning healthy movement in fun ways.


NUTRITION, probiotics, foraging, healthier sourcing, easy recipes.
Healthline took them all away. I am still working on my healthy food book. Until then, see my free Nutrition Page.


See what my patients, students, and readers did that worked, or didn't, and why - Hall of Fame 2010, Hall of Fame 2009  and Hall of Fame 2007- 2008. Here is the blogspot archive of my Reader Inspiring Stories, and my web page on this site of Patient Success Stories.


Follow TheFitnessFixer on Twitter Updates, quick & fun:


Photos From Some of My Work

I am private and spent a career keeping personal information out of print. Finally, here are a few moments to share:


Examining Movie Star Christopher Reeve

with Doppler ultrasound to detect decompression bubbles, and other medical checks after dives to film his television show about scuba diving. 

Experts in several areas of diving joined the show to explain the underwater world as he dived and explored it. I was his personal medical expert (this show was filmed before his horse riding accident). The show never aired but we did great things.

I had been in a paralyzing accident (more about that here) and my crutches, scars, and body metal bothered them. We did all possible to hide them. 


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan checks Christopher Reeve heart and vital signs after his scuba dives. This was before his horse riding accident”]     ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan was Christopher Reeve's medical advisor for his TV show on diving”]    ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan checks actor Christopher Reeve's heart and vital signs after his scuba dives. This was before his horse riding accident”]


Invited to Dinner by Physicist Dr. Edward Teller

at a scientific conference.

Regardless of politics, his enormous intellect and wit are undisputed. He told me the inside scoop on why the public record of his interactions with Oppenheimer was untrue.

When we first met at the conference, he first scowled at me and asked in his deep voiced Hungarian accent, "Vat do yoo know about rrradiation?" My heart sank. My chance to talk to this great physicist and he asks something out of my area. I stammered, "Nothing... Sir..."

We talked rapid-fire about medical isotopes, his family, radiation, injuries (he lost a leg in a train accident as a student) and his passion and knowledge of hyperbaric medicine. He quizzed me non-stop on all topics until he furrowed his bushy eyebrows and roared, "You LIED to me - you said you know nothing ... but you know - EVVERRRYthing."


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan and Dr. Edward Teller: Dr. Bookspan was invited to dinner by Dr. Edward Teller”]

First Dr. Teller quizzed me.
When I passed his tests, he invited me to dinner.


Equations With The Great Dr. Ed Lanphier (Edward Howell Lanphier, M.D.)

in his home in Wisconsin.

Dr. Lanphier was a renowned pioneer in diving physiology and medicine, initiating many top US Navy diving medicine studies. He had been very (very) ill. I was told that when he needed someone to finish his work, he sat up unexpectedly in his hospital bed and said, "Get me Bookspan." Dr. Lanphier asked me to live at their house with him and his wife (Mom Lanphier) in Wisconsin to work on several studies.

I had been in a serious accident. The heavy body braces I had to wear were evident even under my thick sweaters. (I've never wanted to show much of the ugly photos of lying paralyzed. Click my Rare Photos Page for a glimpse). Often I worked lying on the floor - the bracing did not bend for chairs. It did not bother Lanphier, even when others were not hiring.

As we worked over time, the health of Lanphier and his wife kept improving. Instead of only finishing his life's work, we were able to do new work. His knowledge was vast. No matter what topic I asked him about, he had been involved in it in some way, even the first liquid breathing studies. It led me to always say, "All roads lead to Lanphier."

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan was co-investogator with Dr. Ed Lanphier on hyperbaric and studies”]

Checking data with Dr. Lanphier
Photo by Mom Karron Lanphier


Worked Over 9 Years with Dr. Chris Lambertsen (Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen)

at UPenn's Institute for Environmental Medicine (IFEM). I hand-reduced the data for all his famous Predictive Studies Series. He believed direct capture of physiologic parameters superior to automating, and I tracked every data point straight from strip chart recordings, intimately learning study results for each subject.

Dr. Lambertsen developed the United States Navy's rebreathers in the 1940s for underwater warfare, including the first oxygen rebreather, the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU), and was a pioneer in undersea medicine.

I worked on the data for Dr. Steve Thom's pioneering carbon monoxide studies, and was on the Advisory and Review Board for the Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) grant to investigate a number of areas in oxidative stress and hyperbaric medicine, headed by Dr. Thom.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Lambertsen


Living and Working Underwater

in Saturation Habitats.

Since I was a small child, I wanted to work underwater. I designed ocean habitats and underwater laboratories for school projects, and was told there was no such thing.

In the first photo that should appear at below, I am entering the dry habitat from the ocean below through the bottom hatch. I'm wearing a long surface supply hose plus a small 'pony' tank. I wore blue jeans for diving. Easy to get work done underwater and on land without changing.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan at the hatch of the underwater lab”]

In the 2nd photo, I am also deep underwater inside the habitat lab. A reporter who came to "get a story" about the lab demanded that, since I am an underwater research scientist, I use a microscope while in the habitat underwater. No explanations convinced her that my work as a human physiologist doesn't use one. I could barely remember from school how to turn it on. She insisted that I hunch over it to look intensely involved.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Dr. Bookspan working inside the underwater lab.”]


My actual work was not mentioned in the news story.

I did find out about exploding toilets - when marine toilets that had been under saturation pressures are brought to the surface and not vented. See what happened on my Diving and Aerospace page.


Command Performance Teaching Medical Stretches

To Lama Tenzin, Senior Monk and Principal of the Tibetan Medical School in the remote region of Lo Monthan.

The kind Lama allowed physical contact for his learning, teaching me techniques in exchange. More about medical massage is on my Thai Massage page.


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Showing Thai massage techniques to Senior Monk Lama Tenzing of the Tibetan Medical School”] ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Showing Thai massage techniques to Senior Monk Lama Tenzing of the Tibetan Medical School”]


Pioneered Fitness on Cruise Ships

They said it would "never catch on."

Back then, people didn't exercise on vacation. I developed the program and taught exercise on ships in the early 1980s with the first onboard Parcours (free running all over the ship), yoga on the swaying decks (good for balance training), scuba and snorkeling, stretching at sunrise and sunset, aerobics in best '80s leg-warmers style, dance, calisthenics, nutrition, many programs all day for all ages in several languages. I didn't get royalties on my programs but loved being out to sea.

Few people owned cameras back then. Passengers sent me a few snaps that I am starting to scan and put here on my Rare Photos page

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Pioneered putting fitness on cruise ships. Pictured here stretching on deck”]

I got sun while stretching, old fashioned style, on top deck


Worked as Able Bodied Crew on Tall Ships

I swabbed the decks, the toilets, the dirtiest of bilges.

Why not?

Good hard work in the hard salt air. The photo at right was sort of a joke as they didn't let us swabbies take the helm. After the photo, I went back to polishing the brass.

I carried loads to ship when we docked in ports for provisions each 2 weeks. We slept stacked on litters 4 high. We worked 6am to midnight, 7 days a week. In between, I studied for my 100 ton license and dreamed about jellyfish. We sailed exclusively in the Devil's Triangle.


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Worked as able bodies crew on tall ships”]

I am the one on the left. Hard work in hot sun and salt scrubbed me golden. Fellow navigator at right.



Anatomy & Physiology Professor in Mexico

At a college to licence teachers.

I think the entrance exam was getting up the mountain to school without a nosebleed.

I had been living in Mexico teaching scuba and working with locals to start their own gym - more photos here.  I mortared and hammered to build the place itself and taught how to teach classes. I worked until my Spanish was good enough to apply and be accepted as Professor at the University level, living and teaching entirely in Spanish.

Many funny stories. Ask me about them when you come to take my classes sometime

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Professor at a teacher's college in Mexico”]

Can you see me? First row with students (in neat uniforms). Fellow professor at left.



Martial Arts With the Fighting Horseback Muay Thai Monks and the Shaolin Monks

I hold a 4th degree Black Belt in Shotokan karate.

The pioneers and Masters were my teachers, including Teruyuki OkazakiSan, who learned from the founders. We were later honored to study in Japan.

Our dojo (training hall) in Philadelphia is pictured below. I am first on left, then Paul Sensei (Sensei means teacher in this context), who makes a fun optical illusion that we are all short. Then our students in order of rank.

I did years of painful rehab after my paralyzing accident (not martial arts related) using my own methods while all around me said I was unreasonable not to accept I would never stand or walk. I started over as a white belt, training for years until earning the black belt a second time.


ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: 4th degree black belt instructor of Shotokan Karate”]


In the photo below, Paul and I are at the Shaolin Temple (Shaolin Monastery) near Zhengzhou in China. We were glad to attend before it was popular with foreign tourists and before they had a cushy hotel there.

From there, we traveled to the Chen Village, birthplace of Tai Chi, to study from the source. It was a poor backwater with open sewers, requiring a bone crunching trip by 4 wheel drive vehicle. More photos and stories of this to come. Check back here, or with me.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: With husband Paul at the Shaolin Temple, China”]

I trained Muay Thai in The Netherlands and then Thailand, fighting in the ring there. A little about Muay Thai kickboxing classes I taught at Temple University is here.

Years later we traveled on our own to the far northern Thai-Burmese border to the Muay Thai Monks on Horseback. They fight drug lords with education and strength. The Monk (Abbot), the Kru Ba, is on horseback. Paul is the tall one in yellow. I am in purple second from right. We stayed with our friend Kunyai (Grandmother) Tiem Pon, pictured first on right. The famous monk is her nephew.

Story is on my web site Kickboxing Syllabus - Muay Thai Monks on Horseback.

The young monks (novices called nen in Thai) thought it was hilarious that my hair is the same color as their Abbot's horse mane. For some, it was the first time they laughed since their families were murdered in border drug wars.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: WIth husband Paul meeting the Horseback Muay Thai Monks of Thailand”]


Martial Arts In Japan With The Living Treasures

We lived in Japan to study Martial Arts.

I found work at a medical school and arranged for us to stay with a family we had helped when they were in the US. We did long formal paperwork to be approved to train Shotokan officially. We packed language books and our Gis (dojo uniforms), and moved. Eleven days later, the family could no longer host us, and we were instantly standing in the street in a suburb of Tokyo, needing to speak more Japanese than medical and Karate words.

Back then, foreigners were usually not rented to, except in special foreigner enclaves, but we managed to get a rare apartment in Tokyo. We passed a small dojo and made brave to go in. We thought we could attend class in the back unnoticed. It was a style we had never done - Goju-Ryu, The teacher said "You! You! - HERE!" We had to go up front and prove ourselves. The kind teacher made room for us in his class. After a summer of work, invited us to their training camp (gasshuku) at Mt Fuji. We already had other plans, but changed every ticket to make sure we arrived when and where they said. We got to live and train with Morio Higaonna Sensei, who since then is honored as an Intangible Cultural Treasure.

Worked extra to study Shiatsu there. The Namikoshi Shiatsu school, one of our training schools, has two statues; one of Tokujiro Namikoshi, the inventor of Shiatsu and founder of the school holding two thumbs up, and a second statue of a single thumb. We told the Japanese that in English, "all thumbs" means clumsy, but I don't think they believed us.

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: WIth husband Paul while studying martial arts in Japan”]



Breath Hold Diving With The Japanese Ama Divers


Are there not... Two points in the adventure of the diver:
One --when a beggar, he prepares to plunge?
Two -- when a prince, he rises with his pearl?
I plunge!
-- Robert Browning

ALT =[“Dr. Jolie Bookspan: Diving with the Ama San diving women of Japan Japan”]

I lived with, and went diving with
the Ama of Japan




More photos of early work and the accident are on the Rare Photos page.



A Short History of My Work To Develop Methods To Fix Pain

My information is not copied from someone else who said it, or something I heard in a gym or in medical school. I am the scientist who researches what really happens. These are my results from years of work and years of schooling in physiology and research design. I started lab research studies in the 1970s to find why standard neck pain, back pain, and other pain exercises and treatments didn't work. I saw that rehab info was not being applied to how people move, sit, and live in their ordinary daily activities. I applied it. People got better. I saw that common treatments and in fact the assumptions about why pain occurs, were not done by real researchers but repeated from myths people liked and bad studies with flawed design and stats. I did painstaking studies and kept careful records (hundreds and hundreds of patients and students) so I would know which things actually worked in real life, and which were due to other things, including just time passing. I worked years on studies answering questions and questioning answers. When I was working on studies of the human body during immersion for combat swimmers, the experimental subjects, the lab physicians, and others in the lab kept saying they had all these aches and pains. Exercises their own physical therapists and docs gave them did not work or made them worse. I fixed them up. Their doctors started calling me (calling the lab actually, as I don't have a phone) asking how I fixed them so well. They (and their physicians) started taking classes with me. In the 1980s, class participants asked me to write everything down for them. I was surprised. I thought they should have taken notes. I typed information sheets for them. More doctors came to me after taking my classes, saying they knew their standard Patient Handouts were ineffective exercises. They asked me to make handouts for their patients. I was surprised. Again. I thought they could do that themselves. I typed Patient Handout sheets for them. I kept collecting data like a good scientist, doing studies to test and retest methods, and develop better ones. When the Internet came out, I sent handouts electronically, instead of photocopies. In the 1990s I typed everything in several training manuals that became books. One is Health & Fitness In Plain English - How To Be Happy, Healthy and Fit for the Rest of Your Life. After two different publishers, the new THIRD edition of How To Be Happy, Healthy and Fit... eliminates wrong things previous publishers added over my objections. Another book is Fix Your Own Pain, with patient stories in every chapter showing why patients get better, or don't, and why. Over the years, for each, I rechecked new data to make sure the work proved tests of time.
Several more books of my life's work tell how to make life pain free, stronger, and more fun. Each book is different.  I have seen fitness and rehab myths and fads come and go, but these methods remain effective over time. Info, Drawings of the figure Backman!™ and photos in this article copyright © Dr. Jolie Bookspan.


More about me in Adventures. Limited Classes and appointments to train directly with me, and workshop certification by me through AFEM for top students. Get the books for reference while you keep getting better.




Fun, quick, clear, so you can fix things yourself and be healthier, faster, stronger. More on the BOOKS page.


ALT =[“Healthy Martial Arts by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Training for all athletes in all sports, body and mind. More on author web site”]      ALT =[“Fix Your Own Pain Without Drugs or Surgery by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Fix causes using scientific methods you can do yourself. Available from author web site”]   ALT =[“Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Effective quick methods for healthier range of motion during daily life, sports, exercise, and at home. Available from author web site”]   ALT =[“The Ab Revolution 4th Edition by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Replaces all eariler editions. Available from author web site”]    ALT =[“Health and Fitness in Plain English - How To Be Healthy Happy and Fit For The Rest Of Your Life by Dr. Jolie Bookspan THIRD edition. Available from author web site”]

  ALT =[Diving Physiology in Plain English - new eighth edition 2021 with Blue Cover and white text: by Dr. Jolie Bookspan]   ALT =[“Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Review For Physicians Board Exam Guide by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. Available from author web site”]


Click the dancing penguin for Biography and fun photos


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