Healthcare through fitness is not really a new concept and goes back to ancient Greek times. I believe there is an undeniable power in the collaboration of the two.
That is why I left corporate America 23 years ago, went back to college and then went on to take a dozen chronic disease and exercise specialty certificate programs. My Dad was battling cancer for the 2nd time and I wanted to help people to have a better quality of life through fitness.
I was certainly a pioneer back in 1999 opening a “medical fitness” business. I believed and still believe that I can help others restore people to health after a medical diagnosis, surgery, physical therapy or improve the quality their life through lifestyle changes, diet and exercise.
So as you can see, the concept of medical fitness is not new and the demand is rising as we face a global healthcare crisis beyond the pandemic.
Many of you don’t even realize you are already working in this space…
Are you working with clients over 50, have chronic disease (high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar), have given birth, going through menopause, thyroid issues, have had a joint replaced, have arthritis, osteoporosis, battling depression or stress and are on antidepressants, are obese (men over 25% body fat women over 30% body fat), have musculoskeletal disorders, have overcome cancer, have had an injury or surgery and just finished physical therapy and looking to you for fitness? Yep, you are in the “medical fitness space”. You have to learn about all this stuff and continue to stay up to date on it all or you may cause more harm than good.
These are our clients today. We called them “special populations” years ago. Most of the general public do not know how to develop the components of a progressive fitness program. People with chronic medical conditions have an even greater challenge. They need to find a fitness professional that has specialty training to understand their specific needs and limitations.
I don’t see how you can avoid working in this space as this is the largest, fastest growing demographic and who needs you the most. Developing a plan for a regular exercise & wellness program can be difficult for these people; they require specialized medical fitness specialists who understand their unique needs.
I believe we are in a perfect storm. Fitness professionals can be the first line of defense against the impacts of lifestyle diseases.
This next-level fitness professional can help and coach people on a journey to optimal health. Those stepping into the medical fitness space are gaining education to specialize in making the transition from medical management and/or physical therapy to a regular physical activity program following a surgery, an injury, a medical diagnosis or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. They are also learning about prevention and restoring people to health through a personalized fitness plan.
Do you want to broaden your potential customer base to this demographic by adding new skills?
So, what do you need to get there? Rather than looking at continuing education as something you must do, look at it from this perspective: how can I invest in my education to grow my business and have more clients benefit from my services? When chosen well, continuing education allows you to build on your current skillset or broaden your skills into entirely new areas.
There are millions of “unwell” potential clients in the market looking for you. Those with medical conditions or chronic disease are seeking specialized personal trainers; trainers who understand their condition and create programming to improve the quality of their life and understand their complex health issues when their doctor tells them to start an exercise program.
You have the opportunity to truly be a pioneer into a new era, one in which medicine and fitness come together.
Lisa Dougherty started her fitness career in 1999 and has worked for over 20 years with clients with medical conditions or chronic disease, amassing dozens of certifications and continuing education along the way.
Inspired by her father’s cancer battle, she created the MedFit Network to help connect those with medical conditions to fitness, health & wellness professionals who could serve them. Later, seeing a gap in specialized education for these professionals, she founded the MedFit Education Foundation to facilitate and create high-quality education for all facets of medical fitness.