Transitioning your business or practice to provide wellness services can be a bit overwhelming; especially since most physicians, therapists, chiropractors and fitness specialists have little information available to assist them in further developing their successful practices/businesses to include complementary services. Many fitness professionals are beginning to network with the medical community because referrals from the medical community add credibility to their businesses. But as trainers look at our clients' health needs, they also realize that strong lines of communication between specialists and fitness professionals are vital to their clients' lifelong physical conditions. They also know that unless alliances are formed with teams of experts working to place emphasis on preventive care, they may be working pretty much alone.


Step One Alliances

            Last issue, I wrote about forming alliances, which, I believe, is the beginning in developing a wellness organization. Engaging one or more individuals, who share your same vision, passion and desire to improve the overall well-being of your client/patient, will give your practice or business a multidisciplinary approach to healing. True forming alliances takes planning, patience and persistence. However, if you wish to break into the wellness arena, you need to have both treatment protocols that are physician-monitored and provide exercise prescriptions for your clients' particular diagnoses and needs. Ongoing communication between all team members is crucial to the success of your business.


Building Your Business Model

            As you are forming alliances, you will simultaneously be developing a new business model. The business models for "wellness care" are infinite; so here are some straightforward ways to create your model:

            First, imagine two concentric circles. In the inner circle, jot down your major team players. Which physicians, fitness professionals, therapists and nutritionists are key to your organization? As you build this organization, look at your interests and passions what health care changes do you wish to see happen, and how can your business or practice deliver those services? In the outer circle, jot down the other team members. Will these members include a psychologist, acupuncturist, massage therapist? In other words, who is the "gatekeeper?" Who will initiate who should see whom and when? And, those practitioners in the outer circle how will their services be offered to your patients? Weekly, monthly or on a "as they need" basis?

            Will your business model begin with a "delivery model?" Will you start venturing forth by providing "wellness programs" to the community and corporations? For example, will you offer "brown bag" lunch presentations by on-site staff? Or will you provide training classes with general or customized curriculum? Will you do health risk assessments and attend fairs that focus on the specific health needs of the attendees? Or will you do screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks or a combination of all these programs?

            As you continue to grow and feel comfortable with your alliances, the above business model will eventually take a new shape. From a simple "delivery model," you may wish to offer more integrated, comprehensive wellness services. Medical staff, alternative care providers, physical therapists and psychologists, as well as fitness professionals, to name a few, can help contribute to the body/mind/spirit profile of wellness.

            Also, examine which treatment options your practice or business can handle. Do you have the space for physical therapy or can you outsource this service? Does your vision include incorporating massage therapy, chiropractoric care, acupuncture and pain management counseling? Will your fitness professionals include exercise physiologists, as well as those certified in special populations such as cardiac rehabilitation and cancer recovery specialists?

            Finally, brand your combined services in an inter-related manner. In all your marketing material, focus on the extensive training of your orthopedic, chiropractic, physical therapist and exercise professionals. Provide services for assessments and re-evaluations on an ongoing basis. List all the benefits of working with your team of specialists. Demonstrate through client/patient testimonials how your unique services or programs will dramatically improve the quality of their lives.


Using Your Resources

            Finally, there are additional sources that can assist you in making this transition. Utilizing all the help that is at your fingertips can be the most effective way to move from a single-source provider to a multi-source provide in a wellness setting.

            Create relationships with physicians, therapists, personal trainers and alternative care providers in your area. Better yet, befriend the facility's manager. Give her complimentary sessions to your center/office or invite her to a seminar where you are the guest speaker. Let her get to know you, your philosophy and your expertise so that she will become your ambassador. She, more than anyone, can sing your praises and make the connection between you and your potential partner.

            As you discover the needs of your clients, take courses that will set you apart from other professionals and give you credibility. As you build onto your business or practice, you will be expanding your scope of practice. Educating yourself in these new areas, whether it be medical or fitness related, will enhance your reach as well as save you money on employee cost. ACE offers their Medical Exercise Specialist course and there are other ones, such as the Cancer Recovery Specialist that is specific to cancer patients.

            Hospitals in your community may have "wellness" programs for the general public. Attend some lectures, introduce yourself to the speakers and make connections with the person in charge of organizing the programs. Offer to run a future program. Forming an alliance may well develop from meeting someone at your local hospital.

            Unfortunately, the resources available to business owners making this transition are in its infancy. We are just beginning to shift our focus to give our patients/clients a variety of medical and alternative care options to have and maintain wellness in their lives. We are writing the script for wellness and making revisions as we move forward. It is an exciting time for us rather than work in isolation, we are beginning to work as a team. The most important thing is to communicate we have the words now, we need to form alliances, examine which business model we wish to use, fully appreciate our clients'/patients' priorities and maximize the sources available to structure our business or practice.

            Marilyn Gansel is the founder and owner of Fitness Matters, a personal training studio. Her strong commitment to preventive medicine led her to "join forces" with High Ridge Family Practice to offer "The Wellness Answer." Marilyn belongs to the professional fitness organizations IDEA and ACSM and she is also a member of the PEAK Roundtable. For more information, please visit




Pinpointing the Need


Essential to your new business model is assessing your clients'/patients' priorities. What do the majority of your clients/patients require?

Do they need:


  • A total health care program that focuses on prevention

  • Complementary medicine holistic worksite programs offered to achieve a higher level of well-being

  • A health link service a 24-hour toll-free number to access health care information

  • An employee assistance program to enhance employee retention and worker productivity

  • Behavioral health services comprehensive treatment for those facing serious personal conflicts that interfere with work performance

  • Occupational health a proactive approach to prevent and manage onsite work injuries

  • Fitness programs from corporate fitness programs to online personal training to phone coaching

  • Nutrition services from meal planning to a personal chef to vitamin and herb therapies

  • Stress management to assist clients and patients organize their time and learn to cope or set limits

  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, massage


    Whatever your clients'/patients' needs, you can draw upon your interests, expertise and team members to provide your clients with a revolutionary way to reduce and prevent disease. You can inspire people to think about changing from the inside out, with a side benefit of "looking better."