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The Basics Of Medical Fitness Training Every Trainer Should Keep In Mind

A medical fitness trainer helps a client wrap bandages.

Medical fitness training is a certification designed to help therapists and certified fitness trainers develop a set of specialized skills, primarily focused on helping clients improve their health and fitness levels, rehabilitate their bodies, and achieve milestones as set by their healthcare providers.

It’s an incredibly valuable niche in the fitness industry, given its value and significance to healthcare and patient management. Professionals interested in pursuing this field should be aware of a few basic principles and know what to expect if they’re working as medical fitness specialists, which is why we’re sharing an overview of the basics. Let’s take a look at it:

What exactly does a medical fitness expert do?

Medical fitness specialists are trainers who help clients move on from medical management or physical therapy to routine physical activity and exercise. Their services are mostly used following surgery, after an injury, or after a medical diagnosis, and are intended to prevent further complications, flareups, or injuries as patients resume exercise and physical fitness. They work with patients dealing with a wide range of medical conditions, including but not limited to obesity, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, heart disease and hypertension, orthopedic injuries, and health conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, and various others. Their services are vital to patients looking to be healthier and fitter.

A personal trainer helps a client with a prosthetic leg.

What’s the primary goal of their practice and specialization?

The primary goal of working with a certified medical fitness trainer is to develop or improve strength, endurance, and mobility as patients recover from surgeries, diseases, disorders, and health conditions that impact their physical well-being. They often work in tandem with your existing medical team and healthcare provider, using their instructions and recommendations to design their workout programs and ensure that you get the best care.

Specializing in this field will provide trainers with the knowledge and necessary skill that is needed to help facilitate patients’ recovery and progress, ensuring that they’re steering clear of movements and exercises that could exacerbate the injury, worsen symptoms, or cause long-term damage. They use the expertise and insights of healthcare providers to make strategic choices and decisions about patient workouts, empowering them to make smarter choices when it comes to their fitness regimen, while simultaneously achieving their goals.

Who needs the services of a medical fitness trainer?

Medical fitness trainers work closely with patients who are either in recovery, treatment, or rehabilitation for different conditions, injuries, and diseases. A major area that our medical fitness trainer program focuses on is helping patients with chronic illnesses build effective fitness routines and stick to their health objectives while managing their disease. As a trainer, the work you do will focus on applying the knowledge you gain to create safe and effective workouts, enabling clients to get in shape, reach a healthy weight, and build strength and endurance, while still factoring in the restrictions that they’re dealing with.

A client sits on a chair while their trainer motivates them.

How is medical fitness training different from regular exercise?

You may be wondering how medical fitness training differs from standard exercise programs and fitness routines, or why it requires special training and qualifications. Simply put, certified medical fitness trainers are required to have an in-depth understanding of the human body, beyond basic physiology, and understand the relationship between exercise and medicine.

The way medical fitness training varies significantly from regular exercise is the basic principle, which is to look at exercise as medicine and work closely with clients that have a range of physical restrictions.

You’re not just helping them achieve arbitrary health and wellness goals like you would in personal or group fitness training, but instead, working on highly-specialized needs and situations, with specific outcomes in mind. For instance, where a regular personal training client may come in wanting to lose weight, a medical fitness training client with obesity may come in needing to understand how they can incorporate exercise into their life to survive.

There are also key differences in what a qualified, certified medical fitness trainer can do, versus what a regular trainer does not have the authority or ability to do. Including:

  • Prescribe physical activity or exercise to clients that have physical disabilities, chronic conditions, and aggressive diseases.
  • Devise diverse, well-rounded options for physical movement and exercise that benefit patients with chronic diseases and/or disabilities.
  • Work on collaborative treatment plans, alongside doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dietitians, and other healthcare experts.
  • Perform assessments and check the health status of clients with chronic conditions or disabilities, determining whether they’re fit to work out or not.
  • Have knowledge and understanding of common medications prescribed to treat their patient’s conditions, and know how they affect their performance and health.
  • Altering and modifying existing exercise routines for clients who’ve been diagnosed with different conditions, helping them make the transition smoother.

A client with a prosthetic leg works out with a medical fitness specialist.

What do you need to become a medical fitness trainer?

Becoming a medical fitness trainer requires you to have an existing set of qualifications, often an undergraduate or master’s in exercise sciences, a full-fledged, up-to-date personal trainer certification, or training and education as a physical therapist. It’s a highly-specialized field, and you will be required to complete 15 hours of essential lectures and 15 hours of practical study of program development, and pass oral and written modules before you’re certified. You will also have to work closely with medical professionals to ensure that you’re not violating their instructions or hurting your patients in any way.

Medical fitness training is a niche and specialization that helps clients with a wide range of medical and health conditions maintain or achieve certain health and fitness goals. You can obtain your medical exercise instructor certification through our institute, and improve your practice as a certified fitness trainer.

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