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Dr. Emily Splicahl appears in a "Got Milk" ad in this courtesy photo. The Dickinson High School graduate lives in New York.

Dickinson High School grad transforms into 'Dr. Legs'

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They call her "Dr. Legs."

A 1998 graduate of Dickinson High School, Dr. Emily Splichal, has gone from small town girl to successful New York City podiatrist and fitness expert. And it seems as though she has only seen the beginning.

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After completing her undergraduate work in forensic science at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., Splichal moved to New York, N.Y.

"I was doing the whole CSI (crime scene investigation) type thing, doing forensic DNA and I didn't like it," Splichal said. "I wanted to work a little bit more with athletes and kind of understand the body on a deeper level."

Her mother, Cindy Splichal, isn't surprised by her daughter's career path.

"First she wanted to be a doctor or a scientist, then it was a lawyer," Cindy said. "She was always changing fields and it was always to something more challenging."

A graduate of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine in New York, N.Y., Emily Splichal is in her last year of medical residency and has accepted an offer of partnership with another podiatrist in Manhattan.

With a background deeply-rooted in athletics, from Emily Splichal's many years as a gymnast to a tenured fitness instructor at the New York Sports Club and Crunch Fitness, the switch is serving her quite well.

"I wanted to make something of what I have learned in fitness and podiatry," she said. Her solution? "Catwalk Confidence."

Launched about a year ago, Emily Splichal has created a workout similar to a pilates class, but instead, she brings the movements into a vertical pilates class through Catwalk Confidence.

"It's a balance training workout that is done barefoot and targets all postural muscles," she said.

Using the shoulders, the back and then moving to the hip and the core while emphasizing body alignment for all movements, doing the workout barefoot strengthens the foot and the ankle, Emily Splichal said.

Initially offered as two DVDs, Town Sports International, with its 300 health clubs throughout New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., has picked up the class, Emily Splichal said. The first class was held in January.

"The combination of fitness and medicine is very unique," said Lisa Hufcut, director of public relations at Town Sports International, operating company of New York Sports Clubs. "We've never done anything like that where we brought the two together."

Featured in media outlets such as Glamour magazine and the Today Show on MSNBC, the class is spreading like wildfire.

"Right now it's being offered in New York City and we're expanding it to Philadelphia and Boston in the fall," Hufcut said.

Emily Splichal is in the process of conducting Catwalk Confidence instructor certification classes so other fitness professionals are qualified to teach the concept.

"She was an instructor to us for many years before she presented this concept to us so she was a tried and true member of our staff," Hufcut said.

With a large focus and following of women who regularly wear high heels, Emily Splichal emphasized the class is not just for women.

"It is so women or men in general have this increased body awareness, so they are carrying themselves in the proper way and because it's done on one leg, it's meant to improve the way you walk," Emily Splichal said.

Her experience and triumphs have taught her family members a few things, too.

"Even at my old age, you can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it," Cindy Splichal said. "You are never too old to learn. It's what keeps a person vibrant."

Splichal has aspirations of taking her unique fitness approach globally.

"It's a usually spur of the moment idea ... and she goes and does it and accomplishes it," Cindy Splichal said. "She won't allow herself to quit."

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