The fitness industry is evolving and, along with it, the public’s perception of fitness professionals. Today, personal trainers and group fitness instructors are viewed as healthcare providers — both preventative and rehabilitative. If we, as program directors, hope to be successful and impactful in this new landscape, it is imperative that we approach each client and/or program development from this mindset.
In recent years, allied healthcare practitioners and regulatory agencies have begun to recognize and acknowledge the importance of regular physical activity to overall wellness, quality of life and chronic illness prevention. In doing so, primary care physicians and family care providers are encouraging patients to incorporate structured movement into their daily lives. Thus, referring patients to trusted, accredited health clubs and the fitness professionals they employ.
Here lies a tremendous opportunity for program directors – as well as the personal trainers and group fitness instructors they represent. Doors are beginning to open between the healthcare industry and the fitness industry. Relationships are being forged. As a program director, it is your responsibility to be the liaison between your organization and your people and the local healthcare community. Make those connections.
The professional health community is looking towards fitness professionals to provide expert insight into the world of human movement and how that movement affects physical, mental and spiritual health.
That said, this professional collaboration brings about new issues regarding education, competency and regulation. Fitness professionals will be held to higher standards in terms of program development, implementation and documentation. It is important to be sure our teams have strategic career goals, are pursuing continued education, are working within their scope of practice and are delivering results within that scope.
In this new climate, the growth of the fitness industry will rely heavily on referrals — referrals from physicians, therapists, nutritionists and vice versa. To achieve total wellness, clients will need help from other professionals aside from fitness. This is a good thing; a healthy thing. The more relationships you can develop with other healthcare providers, the better.
Health and fitness will be an integral part of the bigger picture of public health. Now is a great time to reach out to your local healthcare community, schedule meetings and educate practitioners about the services offered at your facility. It’s time to expand our horizons, alter our perspectives and change more lives.