7 Steps to Building a Medical Exercise Training Practice

Uncategorized Sep 06, 2019

7 Steps to Starting Your MET Practice in Any Setting

So you want to work with diabetics, total joint replacements, arthritis, low back pain and other medical conditions? But you are wondering where to start, what to do and which medical professionals to approach? In this presentation, I will give you the "7 Steps to Starting Your Medical Exercise Training Practice in Any Setting". For the last 20 years, I have helped and educated fitness professionals and personal trainers around the world to "Bridge the Gap Between Health Care and Fitness". This presentation will summarize everything I've learned and shared with them.

Medical Exercise Training (MET) is the development of safe and effective exercise programming for clients with medical conditions. MET does not provide any aspects of medical treatment. This new and growing arena is one of the keys in solving our health care crisis. MET is a great option for managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, total joint replacements, low back pain and arthritis. These conditions require the incorporation of exercise into the medical management plan. MET does just that…..it allows you to manage medical conditions with exercise in conjunction with physicians, physical therapists and other health care professionals. So let's get started with the seven steps. 

Step One

Your first step is to establish a "target medical marketing list" of medical professionals with whom you would like to develop referral relationships. Simply put, make a list of doctors, therapists and chiropractors you want to get client referrals from. Establish a list of 3 medical professionals to approach initially. I recommend approaching: 1) a general practitioner or internist; 2) a chiropractor and 3) a sportsmed/physical therapy practice. We have found these three medical professionals have patients in need of MET services. These medical professionals are very receptive to medical exercise training.

To develop your target list review your current client files for their medical conditions, the names of their physician and/or physical therapist and the functional outcomes you have produced. If you have produced positive outcomes with these clients, such as reducing blood glucose and blood pressure levels, or improving strength, then you have a great opportunity to successful communicate with these clients' physicians and/or therapists. Don't try the shotgun approach to marketing to medical professionals. Initially focus on three medical professionals and expand to more as you add MET staff members. 

Step Two

Establish a signature MET program. Based on the outcomes you have produced with your clients, your expertise and your advanced training in exercise management of specific medical conditions, select one or two conditions as your specialty. Once you have established your niche or specialty, then develop signature exercise program(s) for these conditions.   

Your signature programs are simply packaged exercise services including the assessment, training sessions and a lifestyle education component to fully manage the medical condition with an emphasis on exercise. Your signature programs should include 6 – 8 sessions over 30 days and focus on providing the client with positive outcomes, a safe and effective home or independent exercise program along with education to assist them to better manage their condition using exercise. 

Some of the conditions you might develop a signature program to manage include: diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and low back pain. Market your signature programs to clients and medical professionals to attract referrals. 

Step Three

Develop a introductory letter and a marketing package to share with potential clients and medical referral sources. The introductory letter should not exceed one page in length and explain who you are, what you do, how you do it and who you do it to. Simply put, the letter should summarize your services, your approach and the types of clients you train. In addition to the letter, develop a marketing packet including your business cards, referral pads, a sample medical exercise flowchart and brochures. Also, provide a one page flyer outlining your signature program. The marketing packet should provide a summary of your services. Your website should provide all the details on your practice and services. Spend the money on your marketing materials. The more professional you present your practice, the more referrals you will attract. 

Step Four

Send your marketing packet, including the introductory letter, to the medical professionals on your target list. Before you mail the packet, do some research on the practice. Determine the specialty of the practice, the name of the office manager and the conditions commonly seen in the practice. Mail the packet to the practice but to the attention of the office manager. The office manager is the gatekeeper. He or she can make it much easier to obtain referrals from the practice. 

Once you mail the packet, follow up with a phone call to the office manager three days later. If you have clients in common with the medical practice, mention these clients in the conversation and the positive outcomes you have produced with these clients. Also, briefly review the benefits of medical exercise training and how it can help some of the patients in the practice. You won't be able to help every patient the medical professional manages but MET can certainly have a positive impact on some. 

Step Five

During the follow-up call establish a date to present your services to the medical professional(s) and office staff. This may require you provide lunch prior to your presentation. This is a common practice and one you may have to adhere to. Also, focus on the benefits of MET for specific conditions seen by the practitioner. During the presentation mention the clients you have in common with the medical professional and outline the positive outcomes you have produced. Note positive changes in values such as glycosolated hemoglobin (A1c), blood pressure, range of motion, spinal stability, etc. Don't market your certifications. Medical professionals do not understand fitness certifications. They do understand outcome measures such as the ones I have mentioned above.

Step Six

To provide safe and effective medical exercise training services you will need to obtain the necessary training. Simply having experience in personal training is not enough. Medical exercise training requires an thorough background in anatomy and the pathology of medical conditions as well as training in MET assessments, program design and utilization of MET protocols. MET goes beyond corrective exercise. Corrective exercise doesn't review how to manage specific medical conditions or how to communicate effectively with medical professionals. The Medical Exercise Specialist Training (MEST) series is designed specifically to provide personal trainers with the skill, knowledge and materials to manage medical conditions with exercise. The MEST series provides the foundation you need to build a strong and profitable medical exercise training practice in any setting. 

Step Seven 

Now that you have reached out to medical professionals and you are attracting MET clients, you have to "train for outcomes and communicate for relationships". Training for outcomes means emphasizing functional outcome measures which allow you and medical professionals to determine the effectiveness of your programs. The outcome measures include 1) blood pressure; 2) BMI; 3) range of motion; 4) muscle strength; 4) spinal stability; and 5) bone density to name a few. Functional outcome measures (FOMs) are reviewed in the MEST series.

Communication with medical professionals is key to building a strong and profitable MET practice. Establish a communication flow to keep medical professionals in the loop regarding the progress of their patients. The use of progress reports is essential for building and maintaining referral relationships. Documentation of MET sessions and communication with medical professionals is a new requirement for fitness professionals. Documentation, communication and other MET skills are required if you want to provide MET services. 

The shift from personal training to medical exercise training takes time and development of the necessary skills but it produces great outcomes and profits for your practice. MET is a key in managing chronic diseases. Start "Bridging the Gap" now by becoming a Medical Exercise Specialist. For more information click here or call 1.888.610.0923. Click here to download our white paper – “Medical Exercise Training - The New Modality”. 

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