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Health Transformations: Jon Baxter

Jon Baxter (at right) works out with Shands Fitness and Wellness Center Exercise Specialist Traye McGehee.

Doug Finger
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:27 a.m.

Imagine you're a dentist sitting on a stool, hunched over a patient's open mouth while trying to maneuver with care. Not exactly a comfortable position to be in. Now imagine that you are the dentist who has had to perform that “hunchback” move for 37 years. It makes you want to stand up and stretch, doesn't it?


Name: Jon H. Baxter
Age: 72
Occupation: Dentist, retired.
Family: Judy, wife. Two grown children: David and Patricia.
Years in Gainesville: 48 years
Challenge: Back pain after years of dental practice.
What's working: Strength training and fitness with University of Florida Health Fitness & Wellness Center.
Best tip: Have a trainer or coach so the routines don't get stagnant and boring and you make better progress.

Living with back pain was not an option for Jon H. Baxter, 72, a retired dentist and avid golfer. He and his wife, Judy, have two grown children, David and Patricia, and have lived in Gainesville since 1968. He first arrived in Gainesville in 1965 for a year-long internship after studying at the University of Louisville Dental School. The couple liked Gainesville so much, they returned a few years later. After 37 years of working in general dentistry, Baxter's back pain had taken its toll — so much so that he left his own practice.

“My back diagnosis was compression and stenosis at four levels in the lower back, probably from years of dentistry, jogging and golf,” he says. “I had the surgery to hopefully relieve the pain, which it did to a degree … but recovery was slow. Vigorous activity like golf was impossible.”

That was back in 2004. A year later, Baxter went to teach at the University of Florida College of Dentistry for seven years. Unfortunately, his return to work only exacerbated his back pain.

“My back therapist of many years, Randy Brower LMT and [others], said I would not get better until I stopped work and got in a fitness/strength program,” he says.

Baxter took the advice to heart, and after a friend told him about the UF Health Fitness & Wellness Center, he decided to give it a go.

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