For an online influencer to garner the attention of the most number of people, he or she must have a unique topic to focus on and an engaging way to present it. Dr. Alex VanDerschelden managed to become successful on the internet in this regard, not only because of his powerful surname but his vast knowledge of various chiropractic methods. Discussing his online videos with Dr. Kevin Pecca, the OC Chiropractor shares how he maintains his visibility and reputation on the internet, being consistent with his content creation, and deals with hateful comments. Dr. Alex talks about his real-life chiropractic work in the middle of the fleeting COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous mask-wearing everywhere he goes.
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The OC Chiropractor With Dr. Alex VanDerschelden
Welcome, everyone, to another episode. For weekly episodes, be sure to hit the subscribe button and leave us a review. You can find me on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok @DrKevinPecca and on Facebook at Montclair Upper Cervical. If you have any questions or comments about the show, you can email me at DrKevinPecca@Gmail.com. We have a special guest, my friend, Dr. Alex VanDerschelden. He is known as The OC Chiropractor out of Orange County, California. He is currently the most viewed chiropractor on the internet with over two million followers on TikTok. I've known Alex for several years now. We went to chiropractic school together. It's truly amazing what he's been able to accomplish. He's going to share his journey with us and how he's been able to accomplish some of his goals and dreams. I love this episode because not only does it apply to chiropractic, but it can also apply to anyone who is looking to accomplish their goals and dreams, whatever they might be. Please welcome Dr. Alex VanDerschelden.
Alex, how are you?
Thanks for having me on. I'm doing great. It’s a pleasure being on this show. I've been trying to get on this show for years. You kept denying me.
It’s not true. I asked you several years ago and we never connected.
I feel better about it now.
That's good. You're prepared.
I'm prepared now. I have a whole script.
This is not going to be off the cuff at all.
I'm ready to go.
That's how you roll, you need to have everything prepared or not at all.
I don't think I've had anything ever prepared before, but you’ve got to be on your A-game. You’ve got to know your stuff.
A quick question, you are drinking a huge Nespresso coffee. Do you always drink it black?
Yes, I do. Most likely.
That's interesting to me.
I still intermittent fast almost every day.
Me too. I got that out of your book several years ago.
I don't technically do, sometimes, the full sixteen hours, but I eat dinner pretty late because I get home late. I like to not have any single calories for a good ten hours at least.
What time do you try to cut it off, 9:00 PM or 10:00 PM?
Sometimes, probably 11:00. Sometimes, I do all day. Who knows where the day takes me? Honestly, you don't know.
I never thought I was going to be able to ever go without food for 24 hours. It sounds crazy and then you do it and you feel awesome.
I feel like sometimes I have to eat because I need to, but I don't want to. Sometimes it's weird.
It's a mind game.
That's how it used to with this intermittent fasting I’m in. That's what I tell my patients, I'm like, “If you're trying to enhance your health or lose some weight here and there or whatever the case may be, try intermittent fasting. It’s the easiest thing you can do. It's so beneficial.”
What's the longest fast you've done? Have you ever done 2, 3 days?
No, I’ve never done that. I did 24 hours. No way.
I've done 28, but nothing longer than that. It was because Sunday I ate at 5:00 PM and then I got back from work late on Monday. I usually do it from Sunday into Monday dinner. It was one of those days where it went longer. I was fine.
I know people who went three days and they're in the gym and I'm like, “That's insane.” Good for them though.
I'm willing to try it once.
You like cream in your coffee, don't you? I see your Joe Show. You’ve got to keep posting. I'm a big social media guy. The key is to keep posting. You can't post once a month. You’ve got to get on it. We’ve got to hear the Joe Show.
I’ve got to do more episodes. You can't be complacent. You’ve got to keep it going. Alex, a question for you. I like to start off all my shows with where are you from originally and how did you get from what you're doing now here?
I'm from Lake Tapps, Washington, which is two hours South of Seattle.
I've seen pictures. It looks great.
I played college tennis at Portland State and then I had low back pain. I got adjusted for the first time. It sparked my interest because it helped me. I could breathe better too. I could sleep better. I didn't know what the hell was going on.
You just knew it was working.
I was always huge into fitness and prolonging health and full body stuff. I was a personal trainer after graduating. I coincidentally trained three chiropractors in the area and they'd kept picking my brain and inspiring me. They told me, “Go for it and go back to school and do it. You could still personally train, you could still do that, but you have a higher rank of profession. Sky is the limit.” That inspired me and I did it. I moved to California. Another thing, my brother is a chiropractor as well, which inspired me. I knew that if he's a chiropractor, he can help me through this whole process. Everything will be okay. Once I got to school is when I truly fell in love with chiropractic. I didn't know much about it still when I went to school.
Not many people do. There are a lot of people in our class that have never been adjusted.
Finally, I realized that it was my calling. I don't know what exactly happened with my life, but it worked out and I am in love with it. It's great.
You didn't find chiropractic. Chiropractic found you.
Like your story, chiropractic helped you so much and that's why you became a chiropractor. Everyone has their cool little story. My story sucks.
Yours is great.
I don't know. Something was speaking to me. Someone told me to become a chiropractor. That's how it started.
What were your plans after school? Right now, you might be the most viewed chiropractor on social media. Could you even fathom that? If somebody told you that last year in a chiropractic school, in a couple of years, you're going to have millions of followers, millions of views, what would you have said to them?
I had no idea that this would ever happen, but I was inspired to make this happen, for sure. It was not an accident. All these chiropractors are having tons of followers and views and success, I was like, “Why not me?” I kept doing adjustment videos and being myself. Sometimes you get five views, who cares? You’ve got to keep it going and then it popped. Now, it's going crazy.
Walk us through that process. Where did you originally start posting your videos?
After school, I was an associate. I was working under a doctor. He helped me out a lot. He taught me the business, the ways and then he left and left me with the practice. I learned a ton and then I started doing videos. I like being funny. I had a little fart machine, doing some jokes here and there and some funny cracks. I was being myself. One of my best friends from home is a social media guy and he's like, “Post it. This is funny stuff. Post it and see what happens.” I kept posting and posting. The key is to be consistent with your posts and to be yourself. You can get a ton of views, but the thing is, if you want to convert those views into patients, you want to convert those views into potential clients. People can sense stupid bullshit that you want to present. They're not just going to call it. Be yourself and be unique and don't try to not be yourself. A lot of people will try to do what I'm doing, but sometimes it doesn't work.
I wanted you to bring that up. I'm not going to mention any names, but there's a lot. You'll post the video and then I'll see a bunch of other chiropractors try to replicate the video and it doesn't work. It's not the adjustment, it's everything. It's you being your authentic self. It's a great adjustment and it's authentic. It's not replicated and people can sense that in the videos.
You could sense that in the amount of interaction you get from those videos as well too.
People sense it. It's hard to explain, but you can sense that people need to do their own niche. What I'm doing is working so a lot of people are going to try to replicate it, which is fine. You’ve got to do what works too, but you’ve got to have your own spin to it too. I've watched hundreds and hundreds of videos in my days. Some I liked and some things that people say are cool and I still use that stuff in my practice. How to say things to other people, but you’ve got to have your own spin to it, your own little tie to it, and your own niche.
Another thing I wanted to ask you too is mostly all your videos are happy and upbeat and it's genuine, but on the internet, there are negative people out there. You get people that are loving what you're doing. Do you ever get nasty, miserable people commenting on all your videos?
All the time. I don't mind it. I'll leave it up in my comments. Especially on TikTok, sometimes when my videos go viral on TikTok, there was massive debates on my comments, thousands of comments. It's pretty entertaining.
Do you answer, or do you let the people sort it out for you?
I do not even answer them. If I do, then it will stir more of a debate.
It's a waste of energy.
A lot of my friends who have TikTok or Instagrams DM me and ask me like, “How do you handle these negative comments? I get these and it tears me apart.” Don't let it get you. The more negative comments you get, the better you're doing. You're doing something right. You're getting under some people's skin. Chiropractic isn't the normal thing to go viral. Chiropractic is blowing up on social media now, which is great. People will call us fake doctor, pseudoscience or whatever the case may be, “You're going to kill them,” who knows? You don't let that get to you because deep inside my heart, I know that I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm only helping that patient. I know that it's fine. It's great. The more interaction, the actual more the post will boost. You've got to keep that in mind too. The more comments you get, the more of a boost it will get.
I’ve made the mistake of answering comments, negative ones, it only ends up in a further loophole. For two days, I'm going back and forth with this person, I'm like, “What am I doing? This is such a waste of energy. If I didn't respond in the get-go, it’s so much better.”
Sometimes when you reply back to it, it's not exactly how you wanted to say it too. You have to keep going on and on. You can debate for hours. You cannot debate in the comments section. It will not work.
Were they a hit right away or was it something that you had to build up to? Walk us through that process.
It took me 4 or 5 years of building up my Instagram. It took me so long to get to 10,000 followers and then after that, it started building and building. It snowballs. Every chiropractor out there trying to build their social media, don't give up and keep going. It takes time. There might be that one video that might hit. The thing is, I got into TikTok early because there was a friend of mine, his name is Bart. He told me to get TikTok a year before I even went on to TikTok. I was like, “TikTok is a dancing platform. This is stupid. You're dumb.”
You have the app on your phone for one year without posting anything.
Finally, I was like, “I'll post one of my adjusting videos on TikTok.” It got 100 views. I'll say, “This is stupid.” I posted another one. I posted the same ones I did on Instagram. This was 2020, I woke up and I had 10,000 followers all of a sudden.
Is it on TikTok?
Yes, and almost one million views on this video. Ever since then, it started exploding. Now I have about two million followers within a year on TikTok. You can link your website, your Instagram, all that stuff on your TikTok. That's how I got a huge social media following from Instagram as well.
You have fun with your patients, your patients love being adjusted by you. That's translating into people walking in your door and wanting to be adjusted from seeing your social media videos.
It boomed. I have a waiting list. I see about 8 or 9 new patients a day. It's a lot. I have to either hire some other help. I have another chiropractor, an X-ray tech. I’ve got to have all that stuff in order. You’ve got to keep it all going because taking X-rays and doing this, that takes a whole hour out of your day almost. I’ve got to be the guy to show them their X-rays and to adjust them and give them the services that I do.
You found this out because you hired outside help. When you first got out of school, you're like, “I want a full waiting room. I want a full patient list.” You get there and then it's like, “This is a lot of work. This is not easy.” You’ve got to bring your A-plus game. You can't have a day off. How do you bring that A-game with all the energy you're putting into every single patient? How do you keep your energy up? How do you keep your adjustments sharp? There are days where you are dog tired and it's tough. What do you do?
Every day when I get home, I'm so tired. The amount of energy that we have to give out to our patients is crazy. I'm still learning on that. I'm learning how to preserve my energy levels because you’ve got to talk to every single person when they come in and you’ve got to sympathize with them. They're in pain or they're going through some issues. When I started, I was out at farmer's markets every single week getting new patients. I did free massage booths at farmer's markets. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I had a big sign that says free five-minute massage. I had a massage therapist giving them a little massage and talking to them about their symptoms and stuff. It is a great way to get new patients in the door too. You’ve got to go through the grind. It's always a grind. You’ve got to experience the grind before you can start thinking that you're going to be so successful.
There's no Staples Easy Button.
My first job, I was making $40,000 a year. You’ve got to start somewhere and then gradually go, and you’ve got to work your ass off. I thought, going into school like, “I'm going to make so much money. I'm going to be a doctor.” It's not like that. You’ve got to know how to educate patients. You’ve got to know how to talk to them. You’ve got to do the grind. You’ve got to be out there. You’ve got to show yourself. You can't be afraid to show yourself and talk to as many people as you can.
You’ve got to love it because if you don't love it, it turns into a regular job. You're going to hate it like anything else. If you go into chiropractic school and you're like, “Chiropractors make a lot of money. This is why I want to do it,” you are going to be so burnt out by year one. It’s like, “What are you doing this for?” You’ve got to genuinely love it. You can see that in your videos and your patients.
I live and breathe chiropractic now. That's pretty much my life. It will be my life forever. I don't think I'll ever retire, to be quite honest with you.
That's the goal. You see a lot of people that strive to retire by 55, 60. It's good for a year or two, but people start complaining about everything when they have nothing to do.
Maybe start a little Kevin and Alex little beach chiropractic or something eventually.
Outdoor chiropractic, on the beach, that's my goal.
Another important thing is you can have a huge social media following, but you have to be good at what you do.
That's what they're coming to you for.
When you're in school for new chiropractors or current chiropractors, know how to adjust. I remember you and me, we were always in the chiropractic rooms while other people were studying microbiology all damn day. I remember it took me six months to even be able to find what the hell the C1 vertebrae even felt like. It's hard. You've got to keep practicing. It's so important because then, if you give the person a good experience, they're going to tell three people guaranteed. They might post it on their social media. They might post it everywhere. They might tell their whole family and they're going to come to you because they trust you now. You’ve got to be good at what you do.
If you're getting a lot of clients from social media, you're only one video away of saying, “This is not what this guy looks like. It's a scam, it’s fake.” You’ve got to deliver the goods. You’ve got to be your authentic self and you’ve got to love it.
Everything is working out.
It's only growing.
You never know when it will end up. You can't think it's going to keep growing. If Donald Trump banned TikTok, it would have taken a hit on my business. I have the tools necessary to try to go to farmer's markets or hire people and teach people how to get new patients and tell the world what we do. You’ve got to be ready for that stuff too.
Where would you like to see your business grow? I got a hint of maybe some coaching down the future of how to get patients. You said you want to do chiropractic forever, but where would you like to take your business?
I'm trying to figure out where. I was thinking about doing coaching. I was thinking about doing step-by-step on exactly what I do, but it's a lot of work. It's important. I want to do that, but I need to have a team to help me do that because I'm working nonstop 24/7. I’ve got to figure that out.
Who takes your videos in the office?
I do it all myself.
Did you set up a little holder?
I do a little holder. I edit my videos. I do all of my social media. I like to do it all myself because I don't trust anybody else with my social media. I like to edit the videos how I want to edit them. That right there is a lot of work. That's almost like another full-time job, is doing all of your social media too.
What platforms do you like to use to edit?
It's called Video Mixer.
Do you do it on your phone?
I do it on my phone. I take a bunch of different adjusting videos. If I'm doing the neck, I'll leave that as one video and then I will stop it, play again, edit those videos and then combine them on Video Mixer.
Also, if you're doing a full body adjustment, is that what you're saying? You edit the neck, the thoracic and then the low back.
Yes. They're not crazy, well-done videos, but it gets to the point and it's all synchronized into one video. I don't have any special effects or writing on my videos. It's a standard, old video.
When I see your videos, usually it's a neck adjustment and then it's either a thoracic adjustment. Have you been doing full-on?
I split it up. I do a couple of full spine. I do a couple of IGTV videos, which are longer than one-minute videos. I have ten of them in my feed. People like that. You’ve got to tell the patient what you do. I have a lot of people who come to me because they want that full body adjustment. That's important. A lot of chiropractors don't, which is fine, but I like to do full body adjustments on everybody. That's what I like to do.
They're not seeing it in the ten-second clips.
No. You’ve got to put it in your caption, “Come in for a full body adjustment, ankles, hands, fingers.” I do it all on every single patient. It's a lot of work, but that's how I like it so that's what I do to everybody else.
What are some of your interests outside of chiropractic?
I live across the street from the beach, I go to the beach. I play a lot of tennis and golf. I like to play Call of Duty. I’ve got that new Xbox. I've been kicking some serious ass on Call of Duty.
You like to have a good time every now and then, I remember that.
I like to have a good time now and then, throw a couple of beers back, but I'm pretty mellow these days. I like to go to nice and new restaurants now.
A little more low-key.
I will go to cool restaurants in Laguna, enjoy the sun and good views. I like going home too.
Going back to Washington.
It's the best place on Earth only when it's sunny.
Is it true that Washington is overcast or rainy most of the year?
Yes, 90 days out of the year is sunny. The rest is gloomy.
It's such a beautiful place. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful.
It’s like Jersey. It’s cold and gloomy.
Jersey has more sunny days, but Jersey gets fucking cold.
It gets colder than Washington.
It snowed so much. Every week we were getting hit with a snowstorm, which is crazy.
You got hit pretty bad. You have been through a lot.
We've had a serious winter. The weather is starting to finally come around. I'm missing the Huntington Beach days for sure.
Our states were pretty locked down too from COVID.
Is it getting better, more opened up over there now?
It's getting a lot better. Restaurants are open now inside, which is cool. The theaters are coming open now.
When it first happened, everybody was scared to go out. It was funny, I wasn't wearing a mask in several of my videos, people were hating like crazy.
Don't be scared about that.
They don't work anyway.
I don't, but respectably, if somebody wants me to, I will.
That's where I'm at.
Every single patient that comes through the door, I ask them, I have a whole box of mask in my hand, “Do you want me to wear a mask?” They're like, “Yes, please.” I'm like, “That sounds good.” I ask them every single time. I don't want them to feel embarrassed to ask me to wear a mask too. That is a thing. If you're not wearing a mask and they want you to deep inside, you’ve got to find that out.
It's going to alter the experience too if it's like that.
They'll tense up. They'll get nervous. You have to have it right on the table, pick it up and put it on, it's okay. It does inhibit my breathing when I wear a mask.
At the end of the day, you can't breathe.
It is tough. That is the thing. We are two healthy guys. I was having a hard time breathing. It was not easy.
You’ve got patients on both sides of the spectrum that they'd want nothing to do with the masks.
I live in Huntington Beach, in Orange County. Orange County, where I'm from, is more of an anti-mask base which is opposed to LA. I see tons of LA people. They all come down to see me because the protocols up there are outrageous for other chiropractors. They are insane. They like to get out of LA and come to a normalcy, free place. The Freedom Clinic is where I'm at.
The counties touch each other and the rules are drastically different which makes no sense.
I have another little practice now that I started as well in West Covina.
That's where Blake lived. That's far away.
I do that a couple of days a month. You have to wear a mask full-time in that area too. I see about 80 patients there a month. I'm going all over the place trying to do my thing. What about you? You hone wanting everyone aren’t you?
A lot of people think upper cervical is just what I do with Blair. I do the entire cervical spine and I do SOT blocking and thoracic. If you watch my videos, I'm doing 4 or 5 different cervical adjustments on each segment. I don't just do C1. If a person has a C1 misalignment and you nail it, it's life-changing, but that's only probably the case for about 15% of my patients. I've done C1 to C6 in one visit. People's necks, especially from looking down, the text neck, working at desks, everybody's neck curve is destroyed.
You’ve got to put that on video most likely. I didn't even know that. You need to keep doing that. Do videos, show the videos. What I do is I take X-rays on every single patient. Sometimes if they have neck pain, I do some motion study stuff because you can see what joints are moving better than the others. Most people I see have a straight neck or reverse curve in their neck. That shows that their body is going through physical stress constantly. It will not go away with a massage.
No, you need to unlock it.
It’s not just about the adjustment, it's about doing your home care as well. Everything has a factor in getting your health back in order.
If you're just doing chiropractic adjustments and you're not taking care of your diet or you're not moving when you get home, you can't adjust that back to health.
I give people a lot of these neck curve devices that they could be doing at home. It's more of an aggressive neck curve device where they're doing it 10 to 15 minutes a day. It helps with getting that neck curve back faster as well. People don't understand being in a constant physical stress state is taking a toll on their body on a regular basis. People who are in the sympathetic dominant state, they have headaches, poor sleep, digestion issues, acid reflux or whatever the case may be on a daily basis and they don't know why. It's our job to teach them that and help them. You've probably noticed this. On every single adjustment that I do, especially for new patients, they've had the best sleep ever in their lives from an adjustment because we finally put their body into a relaxed parasympathetic state where their body can finally relax. Their body wanted to collapse after that adjustment and have a deep sleep.
That’s when you know you nailed it. We rest patients for fifteen minutes after an adjustment, they come back, they're like, “I'm so tired.” I'm like, “That's good. We nailed it.” At the end of every episode, I like to ask all my guests, what is one piece of advice that's resonated with you over the years that you would like to give the audience? It could be anything.
Be true to yourself and never stop grinding. It takes one moment in your life to make the big difference that could catapult you for the rest of your life. You never know what that moment is. Always keep your head up and keep grinding. It's what it is about.
That’s great advice because I feel like a lot of people quit or stop right before that catapult moment happens because it's not happening in their time.
Don't be complacent. A lot of people get that 9:00 to 5:00 job, they get that salary and that's what they want to do, which is fine. Everybody can start their own practice. Be yourself and you can do amazing things. Nobody thought I could make it like this. We can talk to 200 people in our class, 190 of them would say, “There's no way Alex is going to be making it.” Be yourself and prove everyone wrong.
How many people now are like, “I knew it. I knew you're going to be like this?”
Now they're all trying to be friends with me.
That’s stuff you don't forget though, you win. It was great catching up with you, it’s long overdue.
It's been a long time. It's good seeing you. We should have you come around to California soon.
My girlfriend has never been to SoCal so I'm looking to get out there.
You should do a little summer trip.
We'll do a little live Joe Show next time I'm out there.
Maybe a little adjusting video. You should toggle me. That'd be cool. Show people what you do.
Thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate your time. I appreciate the value you’ve been bringing to chiropractic. You're getting a lot of people well. That's what it's all about.
- Montclair Upper Cervical
- The OC Chiropractor
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