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Earning Your Portion of the Healthcare Pie

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.

How would you like a piece of the pie?

Would you like your share of the approximately $150 billion per year that is spent on direct medical costs for the more than 78 million adults and 12.5 million children and adolescents who are obese?

Of course you would. That pie, by the way, will grow between 10% and 20% over the next 20 years, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Despite the fact that the U.S. spends nearly twice as much on healthcare as many other countries, the life expectancy of American men is ranked 17th –or last—among industrialized nations. American women are ranked 16th

What’s more, Americans are suffering and dying from illnesses that are due largely to poor lifestyle choices—smoking, obesity, diabetes, sedentary daily lives, hypertension and heart disease, to name a few.

And right now, our healthcare system is already stretched and strained about as far as it can go for a variety of reasons. To name just a few, the general population is aging, yet nearly half of the nation’s 830,000 physicians over 50 are choosing to see fewer patients each year. The Affordable Care Act is infusing the system with another 30 million people. And some experts predict a looming shortage of 90,000 physicians in ten years.

Fortunately, more physicians are realizing that the future of successful healthcare rests on their ability to engage their patients in completely innovative ways, which presents an opportunity for the fitness industry.

But are you ready to work with them?

Do you really understand what it means to be an effective partner with healthcare providers? Or, are you still essentially an exercise-focused center, concerned with the latest equipment? Are you so busy trolling data that you’re missing the ability to re-engineer your business?

Do you erroneously believe that by offering a lecture or two on changing the way members eat, by selling a 14-30 day juice cleanse system, by offering fructose-laden “healthy” protein shakes, or by providing mud-runs that you are offering safe, effective programs that improve the health of your members? Or, that the healthcare practitioners in your community will want to partner with you?

The club that sees what’s truly necessary, and has created cutting edge alliances with health professionals, will share in the healthcare pie. These new profitable, differentiating partnerships will leverage innovative and practical strategies to help people boost their health.

The flourishing club of tomorrow will define promoting health as the addition of positivity, happiness, wellbeing and the motivation for clients to consistently make healthy lifestyle choices. They’ll understand that health is not simply the absence of symptoms, illness or injury.

Right now, the healthcare system is grappling with the coming physician shortage; with the challenge of helping patients manage their weight and related diseases; and with the need to expand their team approach.

The smartest, savviest clubs will take advantage of this window of opportunity. They can do so with our industry’s certified health coaches who are skilled in relating to the mind, body, and spirit of health club members, and are equipped to support sustainable, healthy lifestyles and provide community-based tools for life.

Now is the time for you get ready to connect with your local medical community. You can be part of that team—and earn your share of those healthcare dollars as you make a difference in people’s lives.

- Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D., is the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and can be contacted at

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