The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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Two Medical Wellness Resources Now Available from IHRSA

In recent years, a growing body of research has shown that exercise can be used to prevent and/or treat a number of chronic medical conditions. Many of these studies have generated a buzz in the press, and, subsequently, among the general public.

At the same time, in a world that’s been engineered to virtually eliminate the need for physical activity - and populated by millions suffering the negative effects of inactivity - health clubs stand ready and willing to offer a solution.

Yet, physicians often fail to recognize clubs’ incredible potential.

Hence, at IHRSA’s 32nd Annual International Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas in 2013, IHRSA staff heard many attendees express the desire to work more closely with the medical community, so as to introduce more people to exercise in their clubs. They also voiced their frustration at how difficult it’s been to connect with medical professionals.

IHRSA members asked. And, now, IHRSA has answered.

The association has just produced two new publications, the Medical Wellness Toolkit and The Value of Exercise Prescription, that are designed to expedite the club/physician connection process. Both provide club professionals with the valuable information they need to implement medical wellness or physician-referral programs in their communities, and are available, exclusively, to IHRSA members for free.

Here, you’ll learn how these tools were developed, what valuable information they offer, and how two clubs are already making good use of them.

The Response

To create these publications, IHRSA did a great deal of homework. The association’s staff began by deter- mining what information might already be available by studying IHRSA’s Health Benefits of Exercise report, conducting online searches, and carefully reviewing other sources. They also interviewed individuals associated with successful wellness and physician-referral programs, who shared best-practices insights. These contributors included:

  • IHRSA associate member Les Mills International, which had partnered with Pennsylvania State University on a related study
  • A physician-referral program at The Columbia Association, in Columbia, Maryland
  • A physician-referral program at the ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers, in Virginia
  • Tri City Wellness, a hospital-owned facility in Carlsbad, California
  • Hearthstone Health and Fitness, in Easton, Maryland, which has a wellness program that involves thorough screenings, assessments, and tracking

Information in hand, the IHRSA team then began to fill in the gaps.

Toolkit Content

Released earlier this year during IHRSA’s 33rd Annual International Convention and Trade Show in San Diego, the Medical Wellness Toolkit includes:

  • Tips to help you connect with physicians and other medical practitioners in your community
  • Important talking points you can utilize when speaking with medical professionals
  • A summary of the many health benefits that regular exercise provides 
  • Templates to help you construct, fine-tune, and improve your program
  • Best practices to employ when developing and implementing medical wellness programs

Toolkit in Action

To make the most of the edge and the advantages that the Medical Wellness Toolkit provides, you merely need to:

  • Review the talking points and research summary to prepare for meeting with local physicians; use the template provided to initiate contact via e-mail
  • Download and begin using the sample spreadsheets for track- ing and evaluating members’ progress, and the report card for providing physicians with feedback on their patients’ progress
  • Consult the resources in the appendix to acquaint yourself with the Health Information Privacy Protection Act (HIPPA) and its possible implications for your club
  • Review the best-practices sections to learn what’s worked well for other clubs with successful medical wellness programs.

The Leave-Behind

The Value of Exercise Prescrip- tion e-book outlines the many benefits that doctors and their patients can take advantage of by working with fitness professionals and health clubs. This publication:

  • Includes research and statistics about the health benefits of exercise
  • Makes the case for physicians’ prescribing exercise to patients
  • Communicates clubs’ value to physicians in a concise, visually appealing format
  • Makes the case for referring patients to your club to fill the exercise prescription
  • Provides a summary of the unique resources that clubs offer
  • Outlines the benefits that health professionals obtain by referring patients to a club.

To obtain a copy, download the Medical Wellness Toolkit (member login required) or The Value of Exercise Prescription e-book (member login required).

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