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Adding Health into the Equation

For years the health part of the health and fitness equation was almost an afterthought. But today, health and fitness are truly traveling “hand-in-hand.” Increasingly, facilities have teamed up to bring members increased services — and thus added value — from acupuncture to massage to tanning. But the next wave in this teaming, cross-referral and increased profits is just entering the threshold — combining a medical facility with a fitness center.

One club that is taking advantage of the natural synergies between the two is Park Avenue Fitness of Long Beach, NY, which shares its location with The Sunrise Center. The Sunrise Center offers, physical therapy, occupational therapy, aquatic therapy, sports therapy, neurology, internal medicine, orthopedics, acupuncture, medical massage and x-ray to name a few.


Each time a patient has successfully completed his treatment at the Sunrise Center they are given an “exit interview.” This procedure is done for two purposes. The first reason is to help the patient understand what they need to do in order to maintain the gains that they have made from treatment. The second reason is to gather patient information for the sales staff at Park Avenue Fitness allowing them to formulate a plan to turn these patients into members. This is an advantage for both the business and the patient. This progression is natural and really is beneficial to all parties involved.

The clients are exposed to the gym from the onset of their treatment. They are comfortable with the surroundings by the time they are ready to move on. The fact that there is a gym attached to the medical center is an obvious lure for potential patients, and leads to more clients utilizing and later joining the gym. Moreover, each company's staff-even if not a direct referral — is well versed in the others offerings, heightening awareness of the facilities to each population.

In fact, since instituting this reciprocal cross-promotion procedure the health club's business has grown from 615 members in July to well over 1000, according to David Gise, one of the principal owners of Park Avenue Fitness, most of whom utilize personal training at least in the early going.

When asked what else he felt had contributed to the relationship's success, Gise emphasized the importance of having a knowledgeable staff that is willing to interact with the medical counterparts and vice versa. Trainers at Park Avenue are exposed to therapists, and are able to engage with them and learn about the various treatments and understand the complexities involved in the recovery process. These trainers are of a higher caliber just from their environment. Often when the patient has made enough strides and is ready to bring exercise into their program, the therapist consults with the trainer in order to guarantee a smooth transition. The trainers have the therapists on hand to answer any questions that may arise, allowing former-patients and therapists to feel comfortable with the move to personal training.

Laurie Selwyn is a personal trainer and freelance writer.

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