Personal Fitness Professional - Summer 2017 - 17
specific injury. Like personal trainers, PTs and
OTs are musculoskeletal experts who work with
people who want to change their body.
According to the National Strength and
Conditioning Association (NSCA), personal
trainers use an individualized approach to assess, educate and train clients on their health
and fitness needs. Personal trainers are experts
in movement, exercise selection and coaching
to improve fitness. Like PTs and OTs, trainers
develop safe and effective exercise programs
to achieve their client's goals.
Despite working with clients who have similar ambitions, there is a divide between physical rehabilitation and personal training. After
spending months rehabilitating a client after
a back surgery or a broken ankle, the physical
therapist may be hesitant to send the client into
the hands of a trainer they have never met. How
well does the trainer understand the ankle after
a break or the spine after a partial fusion? Can
the trainer coach the client through episodes
of good versus bad pain? Will the trainer push
them too hard, or not hard enough? Does the
trainer have the relationship to be comfortable
reaching out to the PT or OT to ask questions?
The following case study illustrates the business opportunity for the personal trainer:
Richard is a 64-year-old who, after recently
retiring from a career in the outdoor retail industry, fell while rock climbing and tore his rotator cuff. Before his injury Richard went to the
gym three times a week for strength training
and yoga classes. After surgical repair and 10
weeks of rehabilitation he was ready to transition to modified exercises in the gym. Richard
had never worked one-on-one with a trainer
but after his experience in occupational therapy he was very interested in ongoing guidance
on his exercise technique and progression. His
occupational therapist connected him with a
personal trainer that not only expressed an interest in seeing clients post-injury, but also has
experience with active older adults.
This and similar situations are being played
out daily in physical and occupational therapy
clinics all over the country. Even previously active people could use the expertise of a personal
trainer to get back into a lunge or yoga pose with
proper technique after injury. If you want to add
these clients and referral sources to your business
you need start by setting yourself apart.
The first step in developing a steady stream
of referrals from physical and occupational therapists is to Google yourself and double-check
your social media footprint. It's a sign of the
times; you are only as good as Google says you
are and it will likely be the first thing a therapist
or potential client checks. Trainers who post a
few success stories, exercise videos or nutrition
content are easier referrals for therapists to make.
We know that people refer to others who
they know, like and trust. Does your local physical therapist know you and your skillset? Do you
know the occupational and physical therapists
within a 10-mile radius of where you work? Use
websites and social media to see their specialties. Have they written blog posts, published
research or have a YouTube channel? The more
you learn about them, the more you can position yourself to connect on a common exercise
technique or areas of interest. Do you both have
experience with athletes in throwing sports, older adults with arthritis, or people who need to
lose weight before knee replacement surgery?
A personal trainer who is active in local and
nationally-accredited organizations such as the
NSCA or American College of Sports Medi-
cine should take advantage of membership
and keep up on health and fitness research.
Along with a sound understanding of anatomy and muscle physiology, keeping current
on strength and conditioning science will help
demonstrate your expertise. Unlike most PTs
and OTs, personal trainers have the skill to
progress exercise routines far beyond the clinical, post-injury setting.
Personal trainers aren't expected to know
rehabilitation protocols or some of the longterm effects of injuries, surgeries or medical
conditions. If you see a client after being discharged from therapy ask to talk with the therapist to help define realistic expectations for
training. Simply having this conversation will
set you apart from most of your competition.
Both personal trainers and PTs/OTs are
looking to keep business coming in the door.
If you approach a therapist showing interest in
referring clients to them you will probably get
a warm reception and some referrals sent back
your way. Make a referral pad for them with
your name and logo; that way the therapist has
a simple way to refer a client to you and inform
you of any exercise precautions. This will help
the client build confidence in your abilities
even before you meet them.
Combining intellectual and business forces
with local PTs may be the ultimate boost in
accessing this referral pool. Offer to co-lead a
talk on exercise after injury or co-write a blog.
A client will feel much more comfortable transitioning to your services if they realize you are a
connected piece of their health team.
Physical and occupational therapists are often the gatekeepers at the end of the healthcare system. Even a small therapy practice will
have a dozen or more potential training clients
being discharged each month. With some networking and planning a personal trainer can get
a steady stream of business from rehabilitation
professionals. Connect with your local physical
or occupational therapy clinic and show how
you are a unique asset to them and their clients.
CSCS, is the founder of MoveMend, a Seattle-based clinic
specializing in rehabilitation
and post-injury personal training. Connect with Aaron at
www.MoveMend.info or Aaron@MoveMend.info as he continues to find ways to
bring the therapy and the training world together.
SUMMER 2017 | WWW.FIT-PRO.COM | 17