As chronic disease and injuries become more prevalent in the general population, medical fitness is becoming a more important offering in the fitness industry.
Collectively, clubs across the industry need the right education, resources and networks to make medical fitness as powerful of a tool as it can be. It’s for this reason that Lisa Dougherty, the owner of Whole Body Fitness, founded MedFit Network, an online directory of fitness and medical professionals that is free to the public.
Dougherty, who has always been motivated by helping people, wanted to ensure that special populations could find the medical help they needed, especially in the fitness industry. “It’s really hard to find medical professionals based on their education, if individuals can even find someone qualified in that area,” she shared. “But beyond that, how do you know who knows about Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes or other chronic conditions?”
Given her medical background — between a medically-focused degree from the University of California, Irvine and completing 20 specialty certification programs in three years — and continued work as a personal trainer, it’s no surprise the integration of medical services with the fitness industry is a big priority for the fitness professional.
“Medical fitness and services is something the fitness industry could specialize in,” said Dougherty. “We just need the education.”
Since founding MedFit, Dougherty has grown the registry to tens of thousands of professionals across several professions beyond just the fitness industry, including chiropractors, nutritionists, physical therapists and many more.
And as the need for educational resources for both the fitness industry and general population grew, Dougherty created more partner organizations to complete the continuum of services:
- MedFit Education Foundation — A 501c3 public charity that facilitates education for fitness professionals.
- MedFit Classroom — A resource that offers online learning for fitness and healthcare professionals in the network.
- MedFit Pro Magazine — A quarterly publication that shares best practices for prevention and rehabilitation.
- Medical Fitness Tour — A conference that offers network fitness and health professionals innovative education.
- MedFit TV — A platform with free community videos on health and wellness practices, as well as subscription-based content for fitness professionals on serving members with chronic illnesses or injuries.
Since the beginning, Dougherty’s mission — and the mission of MedFit Network — has been to provide a network in which fitness and medical professionals can access educational resources and make themselves easily accessible to the special populations that need those services.
And even with such a large reach, personal profit has never been her focus. “I earn a living as a personal trainer,” said Dougherty. “I do this because someone needed to do this in our industry.”
If there’s one call to action Dougherty is adamant about, it’s making your services easily accessible to the public. Medical fitness is a growing trend in the fitness industry, and there’s no time like the present to begin making your services known to the people who need them.
“We need to get the message out,” said Dougherty. “If you have any services for special populations, if you have a club or studio with fitness programs, or if you’re a trainer, join this register. We want people to find you.”