(Editor's Note: This sponsored article is part of the Club Industry report, "The Future of Fitness Is in Healthcare Integration," which can be downloaded for free by going here.)
The lines between fitness and healthcare have become increasingly blurred in recent years and will continue to integrate in the future. Exercise and wellness practices have moved from the arena of fitness enthusiast and athlete and have become part of the average person’s daily routine. Simple movements, such as walking, have been shown to decrease the likelihood of many leading health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and are now being viewed as not only a way to get fit but a means of preventive care.
Preventive fitness is starting to play a larger role in healthcare through the benefits provided by many major insurance providers. The majority of providers have agreements with large fitness chains to offer discounted memberships and reduced fees. This simple initiative is a massive motivating factor for people, as it reduces the barrier to entry associated with membership costs.
The lines between healthcare and fitness are not just blurred on the preventive side of the conversation but also on the recovery side. Most insurance companies only offer a finite number of rehabilitation and physical therapy sessions when recovering from an injury or debilitating disease. During this time, patients make great progress but are rarely where they would like to be when the visits are maxed out. This issue is why we are seeing a rise in medical fitness facilities, facilities that look and operate much like a traditional gym but have a focus on the continuum of care and helping members reach their recovery goals.
Medical fitness facilities fill the gap between healthcare and fitness by providing people with a supportive transition from healthcare and rehabilitation into a journey of fitness and wellness. Specialized trainers, and often times physical therapists, are on staff to help clients navigate their new routines and assist in focusing their attention on areas that will help them improve and thrive as they continually push through their journey.
These medical facilities also serve individuals who are looking for preventive maintenance as well, which makes proper equipment selection imperative to the success of the facility and its members.
Elite performance products can look cool, yet intense, within the facility, but they may not accommodate the needs of everyone and may largely go unused. When looking for equipment that can blur the lines across the spectrum of healthcare and fitness, it is important to find pieces that are versatile and can serve a wide variety of users. Look for products such as cycles that have a safety-first design that offer intense or leisurely workout capabilities, or treadmills with low step-up height and 0.1 mph starting speeds. These units are effective for a spectrum of users, from deconditioned to elite performers.
An equipment trend that has emerged and is bridging the gap between healthcare and fitness is assisted ellipticals.
Assisted elliptical provide an unintimidating piece of “normal” equipment that allows users, who are building cardiovascular fitness, to get discrete motor assistance for increased repetitions and better workouts. The assistance allows users to feel comfortable and confident in a workout they may not normally be excited to do. It is also helpful for those in recovery as the repetitions help to build strength and stability, enabling them to gradually increase their workout intensity by overriding the motor assistance or by reducing the level of assistance over time. When not needed, the motor can be left off and the machines can function as traditional pieces of equipment. This allows facilities to provide equipment that can span the spectrum of healthcare and fitness users without having to provide multiple pieces of equipment.
As time goes on, we are increasingly aware of the importance of movement in medical prevention and recovery. The lines between healthcare and fitness will continue to integrate and become part of a single approach to health and wellbeing.
Ruben Mejia, chief vice president for SportsArt Americas, has five years of experience in the fitness industry, previously holding the title of CTO. Prior to his work at SportsArt, Mejia held leadership roles within the technology and ecommerce spaces. In 2000, after serving four years of active duty in the Army, Mejia began working in the corporate IT and telecommunications fields for the Department of Defense, launching his career and interest in the technology industry as a whole. For more information on medical and sustainable fitness equipment, visit SportsArt at gosportsart.com or email us at [email protected].