Medical Fitness is the top trend in the industry right now and super important for the industry’s future, especially emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prioritizing medical fitness will not only help you impact more lives in your community, but it can also get more members into your facility.
“Take in people while they’re healthy as opposed to waiting for them to unfortunately become sick, then try to back our way out of it,” said Michael Feitelberg, the CEO of The EDGE Vermont and a panelist on the latest Thought Leaders roundtable. “I think what everyone is learning is it’s much healthier, a greater benefit and certainty less expensive to catch people on the front end. It’s a big opportunity and we as an industry need to seize it.”
Another panelist, Scott Gillespie, the owner of Saco Sport & Fitness, agreed the industry needs to be proactive when it comes to medical fitness, but the industry must also grow in the way it helps and serves members.
“We are very good at helping fit and motivated people stay healthy, but over the past 10 years we’ve sold roughly 150 million people who have quit our gyms because they didn’t achieve what they wanted to achieve,” said Gillespie. “This marriage of the need to improve our community’s health and the medical community who is great at treating, but not good at serving — we need to work together to help improve that. I think we are the best people to do this. We’re good at behavioral change, although I think we need to get a lot better. The health of the community demands it.”
If you want to become more involved with medical fitness, but don’t know where to start, Karen Raisch-Siegel, the executive director of LifeWorks of Southwest General, said to first invest in your staff. Ensure everyone has the necessary credentials and certifications for the programs and partnerships you want to form. Without them, no one will take you seriously.
Jeff Jeran, the corporate director of fitness services at Valley Health Wellness and Fitness Center, recommended starting a medical advisory committee. His currently includes 17 physicians who attend four quarterly meetings, and in return they get a free membership to their facility. Inviting the physicians in allows them to see first-hand how your team interacts with members and the difference you can make.
Some medical fitness programs the panelists have had the most success with include:
- Cardiac Rehab program
- Moving Forward After Cancer
- Minds in Motion – Alzheimer’s Society
- Rocksteady Boxing – Parkinson’s
- Silvers Sneakers
- Lifestyle programs
- Nutrition programs
- Strength and Balance
Lastly, Rhea Vaags-Olafson, the director of health and fitness at Reh-Fit Centre, added to make your programs successful, make them simple. “Physicians don’t want a big handout they have to read or go through, something really complicated to refer patients or a really challenging process,” she explained. “Work with them to find out what makes life best for them and their patients.”