Medical training centres in gyms

Value-added offering of physiotherapy in a fitness centre gives it the cutting edge


Medical training centres meet the needs of significantly growing customer groups and are a key market of the future. But only those who create the right infrastructure for their company can work in an economically successful manner.

At the early stages of the fitness boom, mostly healthy, athletic and young people worked out in fitness centres. The main goal of training was to attain a beautiful, muscular body. Due to the fact that the health benefits that working out have on an individual’s health and well-being have increasingly been recognised, scientifically proven and spread via the media, this has fundamentally changed over the last few years.

Nowadays, many elderly people – as well as people with physical ailments, such as back and joint problems or obesity – are found working out in fitness centres. Consulting and supporting these customers often requires medical expertise, which even a well-trained fitness coach does not have.

To optimally advise and support these customer groups, fitness centres are increasingly cooperating with physiotherapists.


Win-Win Bet

A similar development – in the opposite direction – was observed by physiotherapists. In recent years, many physiotherapy practices have expanded their therapy offerings with training and medical training therapy (MTT). There are two main reasons for this development:

  • The physiotherapists were looking for new sources of revenue, in order to win over private payers and become less dependent on prescribed services, which are settled through the health insurance companies.
  • Countless studies have shown the positive effects of a workout and training therapy in rehabilitation. A workout promotes rehabilitation after injury or surgery and accelerates the healing process. The patient becomes healthy faster and the workout prevents or reduces relapses.

The evidence for the efficacy of treatment will become more important in the future. It has been scientifically proven that working out and training therapy contribute in the primary as well as secondary and tertiary prevention. The seamless transition from the post-operative treatment to the training therapy and the development training ensures an optimal healing process, while regular training ensures the long-term health stabilisation.

In a medical training centre (MTC) everyone benefits: exercisers maintain their health and prevent problems; patients become healthy and productive faster; doctors have the certainty that their patients are optimally treated; the MTC generates revenue; health insurance can save costs; and companies have fewer lost working days due to illness or accidents.


Right Concept

However, in reality things often don’t work the way they could. But this is not due to the concept of the MTC, but due to its implementation. Oftentimes infrastructure and devices don’t (no longer) meet today’s standards, the consulting falls short of expectations, and synergies are not optimally used.

There are various constructs suitable for an MTC:

  • A physiotherapy practice expands your therapy offerings with training
  • A fitness centre expands its offerings with physiotherapy
  • Physiotherapy and a training centre decide to cooperate.

In all cases, synergies can only be optimally used if physiotherapy and training are offered side by side, under one roof. With the first two constructs, the economic interest stems from the ownership of the company, but not in the third.

If physiotherapy and a training centre commence cooperation as independent companies, the involvement of both (for example, through commissions on cross sales) becomes necessary for the success of the partners and thus the overall success of an MTC is to be ensured via a cooperation agreement.

Oftentimes collaborations don’t function well, because this aspect has not been considered. A key factor of this concept is the positioning or the question of how MTC wants to stand out from the competition with regards to competence, quality and image.

Infrastructure, equipment, training concept, consulting, etc. are to be based on the positioning.


Therapy to Training

Physiotherapists consider themselves medical professionals. The patients come into therapy because it was prescribed by the doctor. And the therapy is concluded once the patient has been “restored”.

To this day, this remains the wide spread therapy understanding of many physiotherapists. However, an important goal of integrating therapy and training lies exactly in the patient purchasing a training subscription after completing the therapy, and regularly working out.

Because that’s the only way to avoid relapses. The treatment goal is only achieved if the patient has become a member of the training centre.

However, the conversion from the therapy to the training doesn’t just happen on its own. The physiotherapist must enlighten the patient, show him the benefits of training and prepare him for the continued training after therapy. In other words: s/he has to sell.

And physiotherapists often find this difficult to do. Yet, the number of converts significantly depends on physiotherapists educating patients during therapy. It is therefore important to intensively prepare the physiotherapists for their role as “salesperson” and to school them.

The same goes for training: an expert physiotherapist is not automatically a competent coach. In-depth and up-to-date knowledge on strength training, endurance training, etc. is an absolute must for the MTC staff.


Customer Benefits

The benefits customers get from the combination of training and therapy is a key competitive advantage. Health is a precious commodity and customers are willing to pay extra for the certainty that they are receiving scientifically based advice and competent medical care.

The benefits of the combined offering must be communicated time and again. Only then can the MTC set itself apart from an “ordinary” fitness centre and benefit from competitive advantages. An MTC meets the needs of rapidly growing customer groups, who consider high quality standards and medical expertise important.

The advantages for MTC operators are more customers thanks to medical quality image, additional revenue stream from sales of subscriptions to physiotherapy patients, and additional patients from the field of training for physiotherapy.



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