The University of Arizona Arthritis Center has good Karma — Karma Kientzler, that is — and the movement and wellness specialist is paying forward her deep experience and knowledge to the Southern Arizona community.

“My passion and involvement with the center and my career at Canyon Ranch led me to become a person who works with people who have compromised bodies — I prefer the word ‘compromised’ to ‘disease,’ since it has a more positive energy,” said Kientzler. “I do what is called ‘reading the body,’ so I can tell which joints or muscles are not firing correctly, and that has served me well. When you empower people with arthritis, it can help their pain. It is quite interesting to see how that happens.”

Kientzler volunteers to lead classes through the monthly Living Healthy with Arthritis Active Series and the Annual Living Healthy With Arthritis Conference. She also presents a monthly pilates class for members of the Friends of the Arthritis Center.

Kientzlerhe, the newest member of the center’s advisory board, said she looks forward to hearing the guest speakers, UA athletic director Dave Heeke and football Coach Kevin Sumlin, at the center’s annual fundraiser, the 2019 Bear Down Luncheon on May 8.

She is also eager to continue to share her decades of experience in fitness and wellness through her volunteerism at the center.

Her résumé is impressive: Kientzler was hand-picked by Canyon Ranch co-founder Mel Zuckerman to implement the fitness program at Canyon Ranch after helping him to kick-start his personal wellness journey at the Oaks at Ojai nearly 40 years ago.

She has assisted numerous clients with “compromised” bodies to become healthier and has helped countless others to optimize their health and wellness at spas and fitness centers — and even a castle — around the world. She has created personalized classes for small and large groups, teaching to 300-plus participants. Additionally, she specializes in helping clients prepare for surgery and rehab afterward. Her client list includes CEOs, physicians, artists, professionals and philanthropists.

“She is an exceptional woman with an amazing understanding of the body, and more importantly, with a generosity of spirit seldom found in people,” said Zuckerman.

Kientzler employs a variety of techniques and tools compiled over the last four decades, including stretches, yoga, pilates, strength training and more. She is a also a proponent of personalized physical therapy and nutrition.

“I want to assist in movements and relieve systems; we can marry them together like a beautiful necklace, so no link is missing or no pearl has fallen off,” she said.

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Kientzler, who prefers the word “mature” to “old” and believes that, “You are only as old as your mind tells you that you are,” also implements art, music, gardening, dance, reading, writing and laughter into her holistic approach to health. Classes and conversations are interspersed with snippets of wisdom gleaned through the years.

She is convinced that movement specifically designed to keep the body and breath flowing is imperative for those living with arthritis and is honored to work with the center. “We couldn’t ask for a finer team of physicians and directors at our arthritis center, and they are offering me the opportunity to hopefully help this sector of our world feel a little bit better,” Kientzler said.

Dr. C. Kent Kwoh, center director, says Kientzler’s integrative therapies complement the center’s bench-to-bedside research and specialized care, which runs the gamut with orthopedic surgery, geriatrics, immunology, medical imaging, pharmacology, integrative medicine, epidemiology, public health, exercise physiology, nutritional sciences, podiatry and biomechanics.

“I think the center is really indicative of the UA in terms of targeting strengths through pharmacologic treatments and interventions and through emphasizing an integrative approach in terms of non-pharmacological mechanisms to help people with different forms of arthritis, and Karma helps bring some of that perspective,” said Kwoh, who is excited about the continued growth at the center and at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, which opened a new, nine-story hospital tower last week.

Additionally, the center has been awarded a grant from the National Arthritis Foundation to expand its rheumatology fellowship from four fellows a year to five.

“There is shortage of rheumatologists statewide and we are the only rheumatology training program in the state,” said Kwoh. We continue to recruit and hire rheumatologists, nurse practitioners and other professionals for our team. There is quite a need in Tucson and Arizona and certainly in the country, and we are trying to fulfill that need for Tucson as much as possible.”

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at