I am interested in finding fitness centers that offer rehab, to transitional, to complete aftercare fitness experiences, specifically tailored to the special population groups – especially those with complete aquatic therapy programs for low impact exercise (really important for those with arthritis etc…).
Just some preliminary research has revealed little in existing clubs offering “special population” programs or even senior programs in general. In fact, again with very little research that I conducted, I found 1 set of fitness centers that advertise classes geared specifically toward the special population group.
Now, I am intrigued why aren’t’ there more and why haven’t fitness centers been specifically built for the largest population group that needs them the most. The baby boomer group is financially stable, has the insurance, and the need.
So why is there is not a movement for these centers?
Do you know of any health clubs specifically dedicated to Special Population groups?
Does your fitness center or training facility have a specific program for the Special Populations’ group (chronically ill or in pain, elder clientle, those with cancer, kids, etc)?
Now I know the MELT Method and Silver Sneakers are a couple great programs – but are there more??
If you do not currently have a program or work for a health club that does, have you considered expanding to accommodate this group?
Any more Insight into this area would be appreciated!
Thank you in advance.
Great question! I was just chatting with a group of physical therapists and doctors of various specialties about this situation. They told me they are often hesitant to referr to fitness professionals as they are not sure what type of training we actually have, how good we are, if we really know how to work with “special” populations and have seen too many cases of trainers or fitness professionals “hurting” those they were supposed to be helping.
I think it goes back to the arguement of some type of crediatials, regulations and licensing to work with these populations. Something I’m not so against!
The physical therapists and doctors I spoke with said they were eager to have someone they could pass patients along to as long as they knew that person was well trained.
As a clinical exercise physiologist the vast majority of my clients are “special populations” in that they have clinical conditions.
The dilemma with that is that many people who are ill are looking for insurance to cover it.
Many hospitals have outpatient cardiac rehab but I haven’t seen centers dedicated to special populations.
Hi Lawrence. I can address the last part of your question (“have you consider expanding to accommodate this group?’). My answer to that part of your question is “yes.” I have spent the last several years trying to break into the ‘medical fitness’ world, and to establish relationships with medical professionals to assist their patients in improving their health and wellness. As a result, I now have relationships with a variety of medical professionals (physicians, therapists, nutritionists) that have afforded me the opportunity to work with elderly patients, post-rehab clients, and those with special needs. It is an extremely rewarding part of my practice!
I teach MELT classes at a wellness center that is affiliated with a hospital and thus has some special programming for pulmonary rehab, cardiac rehab, cancer programs etc.
But even in this setting, such transitional programming and specialized programming is offered only to a limited degree, and I can see the challenges that go with it.
It is a matter of having the instructors to offer such specializations. Very few modalities can accommodate a variety of needs. I use my MELT classes as an example: I usually have people in there with problems ranging from RA to MS to stroke to knee and hip replacements and any kind of low back issues, often all in the same class, and generally in large numbers of 25 or even more. A modality like MELT can handle this, and I am rather certain that everybody will feel better at the end of the class and will have some techniques that they can use themselves.
But look at strength training classes even for the healthy population: every time I see how poor people’s form is despite the best effort of the instructor, it is evident to me that somebody will get hurt unless you have a ratio of instructors to students of 1 to 5. And then take that for truly special populations, and all you have is personal training.
The so-often quoted affluence in the baby boomer generation does exist but not across the board. I would venture to say that the majority in that age group are just getting by on a fixed income and have little flexibility particularly with the uncertainty about future health care needs.
You are right: there should be more. But clubs need to make a profit to stay in business, and I cannot easily see this happening when clubs go the ‘special population’ route.