Can Your Gym Become an Essential Business?

Written by Catherine S. Mitseas for Gym Insight

This fall, Planet Fitness made news when four locations in California owned by the same franchisee reopened under the designation of an “essential” business. Their tactic? Pay for a membership in the Medical Fitness Association and follow its phased reopening guidelines, while directly contacting local health officials for permission to open.

The gyms petitioned their Public Health Services department citing adherence to reopening guidelines published by MFA and vetted through the CDC. The MFA guidelines, in some cases, are stricter than the CDC’s published work: expanding social distancing recommendations based on a population’s health risk and the type of exercise.

The effort worked for Planet Fitness and, since then, more than 500 gyms have sought membership in the North Carolina-based nonprofit, according to their membership experience director Jason Aslanian.

The former PGA professional expressed awe at the surge of interest but wants to clarify a specific point: Membership in the MFA does not guarantee your business will be deemed essential by your local government.

Fortunately or unfortunately, that decision is made by local and state officials, and each state varies widely on which businesses are considered “essential.”

The 29-year-old organization, instead, provides a wealth of ongoing educational programs, conferences and seminars to individuals in the fitness industry, is the leading certification agency for organizations wishing to become accredited within the medical fitness arena, and provides access to industry research and trends.

Membership in the MFA delivers education and resources to health club owners but does not convey certification. Certification by the MFA as a medical fitness facility is a costly multi-year process that formally recognizes your center’s actions incorporating exercise-based therapies into client recovery programs. The accreditation comprehensively reviews your gym’s adherence to expected standards for medical fitness centers, including active physician oversight and degreed staff. However, even a full MFA certification does not automatically categorize your gym as “essential.”

There are over 940 medically integrated facilities nationwide, according to MFA’s research, but only 45 MFA-certified facilities in the United States. For more information on building relationships within the healthcare community, see our August blog, “Healthcare & Health Clubs.”

What’s Next on the Road to Becoming Essential?
Lobby and prepare, from the information out there. Every state is at a different point in opening, and the continued uncertainty swirling around increases in COVID-19 cases makes decisions difficult to pin down. However, a good offense is the best defense. By implementing the MFA’s guidelines and keeping up with the CDC your gym will be ready when your state flips the switch. If there seems to be wiggle room in your community, go to the local public health services department and keep asking questions until you find the person with the best answer.

Arm yourself with relevant state and local rules that apply to each of your business’s physical locations. Review them and determine if your business falls within any exceptions to the industry shutdown. If there is any question as to whether you are an essential business, prove to the county you’re a community resource with a dedicated group of clients who need and rely on you for their physical well being. Or ask an attorney to do the talking for you.

Keep your chin up and your hands clean, and soon your company will be stronger, better informed, and ready to run burpees around the competition.

HealthWell Solutions Offers Comprehensive COVID Solutions

Introducing Gym Health Check the most comprehensive, customizable, and clinical resources to support member health and safety.

Gym Health Check can be private labeled to support current CDC Guidelines and integrates temperature readings, contact tracing, and testing results to provide immediate notification to members and real- time reporting to your facility. We support total member health and wellbeing with Nurse Triage and Telehealth services that can be offered as part of your membership benefits.

MFA Members: Try out the Gym Health Check system with a 60-day complimentary trial.

To learn more, please contact info@healthwellcorp.com.
Visit us at www.gymhealthcheck.com or www.healthwellcorp.com.

HealthWell Solutions is a population health management company that provides evidence-based solutions for the fitness industry as well as employers, benefit consultants, and healthcare organizations. We provide customized programs and technology solutions such as wellness portals, benefits apps and landing pages as well as onsite and remote health screenings, health coaching and emotional health programs.

For more info, contact HealthWell Solutions today!
Mark Mulray, MBA, M.Ed.
COO
888-935-4434, Ext. 701
info@healthwellcorp.com

HealthWell Solutions supports the Medical Fitness Association as an Industry Partner.

News from the Academy for Brain Health & Performance

Check out the new “Brain Fitness Cross-Training Guide” now available for free download. Plus, registration is now open for the “Lifestyle Medicine for the Brain” online course.

Click here for more information.

MFA Statement on COVID-19

As the new coronavirus spreads throughout the US, it is disrupting many medical association meetings and conferences. After much thought and discussion, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the MFA Regional Conferences in Elkhart, IN (April 15-17) and Jackson, TN (May 20-22) and we will not be planning a Northeast Regional Conference for June. With many of our MFA member facilities facing travel bans and increased pressure on their time as this health crisis is changing so rapidly, we felt it would be irresponsible to hold an event at this time for our members and sponsors. If you had registered for either Conference, we are currently processing full refunds this week. If you paid via credit card, we will refund the card. If you paid via check, we will issue you a refund check.

We will hold our online Regional Conference on Thursday, March 26, with four webinars that day. Everyone is welcome! We are also reaching out to our Regional Conference speakers to see if they would be interested in sharing their knowledge in a future MFA webinar. We currently have two more webinars scheduled for March 18 and 25. Stay tuned to our website and email for a webinar update. As your Medical Fitness Association, we are doing everything we can to offer you multiple opportunities for your continuing education!

At this time, our Annual Conference, to be held in Baltimore, MD on Nov 3-5, is still on. We will continue to diligently monitor this situation through the CDC. If anything changes, we will let you know immediately. In light of this unknown, we are pleased to offer a 100% risk-free cancellation policy for our 2020 Annual Conference. If the Annual Conference needs to be cancelled, you will receive a 100% refund of your registration fee. We will endeavor to make that decision by October 2nd. At this point, we have a robust agenda and look forward to some great networking!

While member facilities have increased their outreach to their own members, we encourage you to work with your facility’s or hospital’s marketing/public relations department. This is an opportunity to support your local community by reassuring them on how you are handling the coronavirus and to support your members who are putting their memberships on hold by providing them with ideas for exercising at home. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness in your community as a medical fitness thought leader. Here are a couple examples:

Article on a fitness facility in CT: CLICK HERE

ACE’s article on “Top 25 At-Home Exercises”: CLICK HERE

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in our COVID-19 Response Survey. There is still time to participate in the survey. We will be sending out the preliminary results today. The full report will be sent out by this Friday, 3/20. One of the many benefits of being a Medical Fitness Association member is that you have the opportunity to learn what other medical fitness facilities are doing without handling the legwork yourself!

Brain Health Matters Podcast – Enhancing Brain Capacity

Check out the latest podcast from MFA Strategic Partner, the Academy for Brain Health and Performance.

This month’s podcast features Dr. Evian Gordon, as he shares a framework of how the brain works as a system, as well as a practical step in making your brain’s capacity more effective, no matter your age.

Dr. Evian Gordon is an integrative neuroscientist and medical doctor as well as the Founder, Executive Chairman and Chief Medical Officer of Total Brain. 

MFA Names Amanda Konigsberg as New Northeast Region Chair

Medical Fitness Association Names Amanda Konigsberg as Northeast Region Chair

January 27, 2020 – Pinehurst, NC: The Medical Fitness Association is pleased to announce that Amanda Konigsberg, who works with Active Wellness, has been appointed as its Northeast Region Chair. In this role, Konigsberg will oversee the NE Region Advisory Board that consists of the several State Captains in the Region. She is responsible for communicating activities and events impacting member facilities and planning the annual Regional Conference.

According to Robert D. Boone, FACHE, FMFA, President and CEO of the Medical Fitness Association, “The Region Chairs are the backbone of the Association. By working through our State Captains to communicate in a personal manner with our members state by state, the Association can be more responsive to their needs and requests and provide a more personalized service. In addition, we are able to reach out to potential members with people who are known within each state. This is a critical role within our organization.”

By creating a two way communication with the medical fitness industry, the Association is able to remain strategically agile in its response to the rapidly changing healthcare landscape. The Region Chairs are vital to the success of this effort.

The Medical Fitness Association is a professional association representing medically integrated fitness centers in the United States and Canada. It offers continuing education; industry benchmark data; clinical and business outcomes; seven annual regional and specialty conferences; two professional facility director certifications and the only comprehensive medical fitness facility certification program in existence. Working with its strategic partners, the Association promotes wellness, nutrition, prevention and the utilization of exercise as an adjunct treatment in the management of chronic diseases as well as development of lifelong lifestyle management programs to help people maintain an optimum quality of life. By positioning its centers as extensions of physician’s offices, medically integrated fitness centers serve as a primary tool in supporting healthcare systems’ community-based population health strategies.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Amanda Konigsberg at amanda.konigsberg@activewellness.com

 

Brain Health Matters Podcast – Sleep Matters

Check out the latest podcast from the Academy for Brain Health and Performance. This month’s podcast features Dr. Elizabeth Frates sharing an overview of the field of lifestyle medicine and how key factors, like nutrition and physical activity, can have an impact on brain health.

Elizabeth Frates, MD is a trained physiatrist, health and wellness coach, and Director of Medical Student Education at the Institute for Lifestyle Medicine.

What You Gain with Medical Fitness Credentials

One of the newest programs developed by Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) is a Master of Science in Wellness and Health Promotion Management (WHPM) with a concentration in Medical Fitness Management. This is the first course of its kind in the country. The curriculum was built with input from practitioners in the field, including the Medical Fitness Association (MFA). NMC is one of the four initial charter student chapters of the MFA.

Check out this blog, on the Nebraska Methodist College website, by MFA President & CEO, Bob Boone!

10 Key Brain Health Pillars

MFA Strategic Partner, the Academy of Brain Health and Performance (ABHP), is launching their Brain Health Matters educational series with an introduction to their “10 Key Brain Health Pillars” which is the basis of their upcoming series.

This new series will include:

• The break down of each brain health pillar in their monthly newsletter articles that include actionable steps for integrating them into daily health and wellness coaching
• Their Brain Health Matters podcast series highlighting their brain health experts with insights into brain health and performance training, education and resources
• 1st access to ABHP’s new Fall 2019 brain health professional courses

Click here to read more about the “10 Key Brain Health Pillars.”

Power Wellness Webinar: Improving Population Health Through Medically Integrated Fitness

MFA Industry Partner, Power Wellness, is offering a webinar entitled “Improving Population Health Through Medically Integrated Fitness” on Wednesday, July 10 at 12pm CST.

Click here to register today.

The key takeaways for this webinar will be:
What it means for a fitness center to be medically integrated;
What a Medical Advisory Committee is and why they are important;
Why it is important to link medicine with fitness and how you can measure success; and
Real life stories about medically integrated fitness centers and physicians’ impact in their community.

Presenters will include:
Vic Arellano – VP of Business Development, Power Wellness
Dr. Brian Babka – Northwestern Medicine
Joe Berg – Center Director, Loyola Center for Fitness
Dr. Aaron Michelfelder – Loyola University Medical Center
Joe Molter – Center Director, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Health and Fitness Center
Chris Sutton – Medical Integration Manager, Power Wellness