40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Sara Hulseberg

Owner, Excel Therapy & Conditioning: Age 38

Sara HulsebergSara Hulseberg tells a story that demonstrates the meaning of a loyal clientele.

When COVID forced her to find a new home for Excel Therapy & Conditioning, the practice she started in 2012, she found a run-down garage and eventually cleaned it up, built it out, and prepared to move the practice and everything in it, thinking moving would take three 12-hour days to complete.

Then the help started to show up — not only her team, but clients. In three hours, she was not only moved in, but totally set up.

The nominations supporting her 40 Under Forty selection explain that loyalty.

“As a patient of Sara’s, I’ve regularly witnessed her reach out to help people under extreme trauma and hardships,” one wrote, sharing her own experience with pain reduction and greater mobility under Hulseberg’s care. “She has been a friend to me, going above and beyond every time — and I’ve seen her do this with every person that comes to her.”

Others talked about her pro bono work, her insistence on not laying off anyone during the pandemic, her donations of time and resources to local charity events, her mentorship and internships for aspiring therapists … the list goes on.

Hulseberg, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Springfield College and her doctor of physical therapy degree at Northeastern University, said she became frustrated with how patients were being treated in other practices where she worked, and sought to create a different model. “I saw a lot of treatment based solely around what their insurance was or whatever their pain was, not what it stemmed from. It was disheartening.”

She said the immediate gratification she gets from helping people isn’t something one finds in every field of healthcare.

“Someone comes in with a lot of pain, and if you do your job, they leave with significantly less pain and more functionality over the weeks and months. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do that for somebody.”

Hulseberg said she was first inspired by the way her father, an ophthalmologist in Holyoke, treats his patients, and asked him, before she launched Excel, why she doesn’t experience the same kind of relationships where she worked.

“I said, ‘I must be in the wrong field,’” she recalled. “He said, it’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, but you often have to plow your own way to get there.’”


—Joseph Bednar