Denise Holan A Physical Therapist who always has a hug ready for her girls

How long have you lived here and what brought you to town?

Denise has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy and is the owner of Rock Health Wellness in Westfield, NJ.  She has three daughters: Layla (10), Keira (9) and Norah (6). Denise moved to Cranford in 2005 after graduating from physical therapy school and began working at what once was Advanced Physical Therapy (now Ivy Rehab) in town. She actually met her husband, who was born and raised in Cranford, at Advanced Physical Therapy. Denise has been living in Cranford for 17 years.

What are your favorite family activities to do in and around Cranford during the holiday season?

Cranford is the best town to live in during this holiday season. All three of my daughters are in Girl Scouts, so we look forward to the Cranford-wide activity of making cards for our troops. I believe that it’s incredibly important to teach our children to always think of others and give back to the community. I also love that they make ornaments and help to decorate the tree prior to the Cranford tree lighting. Additionally, the Jaycees have done an amazing job sponsoring the Santa trolley ride around town. My children just love the singing and the hot chocolate, and if I’m being honest, so do I!

Tell us about your job or passion.

I’m truly so lucky to do what I love every day. As a physical therapist, I encounter people who are usually experiencing some kind of pain or functional limitation. Typically, I attract higher-level athletes and more complicated cases, so I enjoy problem solving through the anatomy looking at each individual as a whole. I’m so grateful to have a practice whereby I work with each individual one- on-one for an hour, which is very atypical in the current climate of healthcare. My treatment is usually hands-on for the full hour and I instruct in exercises and utilize an app in order to track and communicate with clients in between visits. With this model of treatment, clients heal extremely quickly and can see me for just a few visits instead of having a dependency on their PT. This model of care also allows individuals to save both time and money in the long run as well as heal quickly.

Additionally, in alignment with valuing health, movement, and wellness, I volunteer coach with Girls on the Run twice a week at Livingston Avenue school and I also volunteer coach two days per week at our Cranford Field Hockey clinic. I love watching the girls grow and progress each week.

What was the best advice on motherhood that you ever received?

I remember reading that when toddlers are tantruming, sometimes it’s just their crazy way of asking you for a hug. I remember when I had a four-year-old, a two-year-old and I was pregnant with my third, I had one of those embarrassing moments when my two-year-old was screaming on the floor in Target, and I just picked her up and gave her the biggest bear hugs and she melted in my arms. From then on, instead of just screaming, she’d switch to a scream / yell of “I JUST NEED A HUG.” Even now, as a 10-year-old and a nine year-old, I try to remember if I’m getting some attitude, sometimes they just need a big bear hug and that love language of touch keeps us close and tears down any barriers. It’s the nonverbal way of us just saying we love each other, even if we can’t find the words of “asking for it.”

What’s your favorite restaurant and/or place to shop in Cranford?

There are just so many great places in Cranford. I absolutely love Ambeli. Not only is their food phenomenal, but you can’t beat the incredible service and just the kindness to children and chaos. We’re so grateful for how gracious they are. I also love Anthem, and am an absolute sucker for their unique jewelry, hair clips and Cranford shirts. Last but not least, is Vanilla Bean. I’m an ice cream lover and I just love it there! I love the seasonal flavors and the ability to just grab a treat and hang out by the clock with the kiddos.

What do you enjoy doing for self care?

Like most moms, I’m not great with self care, but the one thing I really prioritize is exercise. I love to both run with my girlfriends and do Crossfit at KOA in Mountainside. If I start my day out with an intense exercise session, my mood is immediately lifted and I feel energized to take on whatever challenges the day brings.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

My kids look forward to the Jaycees Santa visit like you can’t even imagine. The excitement of hearing the fire trucks or police cars, and seeing Santa arrive at their house with a little preview gift is such a highlight. Every year they ask, is that the real Santa? That was just so cool! How can he do this all? I just love their continued innocence and excitement about all elements of the holiday season and I’m so grateful to be in a town that embraces these big and small moments.


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