Post 1 - An Introduction to Medical Fitness


- Hervey Lavoie, F-MFA

More than a building, and much different than a “fitness gym”, medically-integrated fitness is an important new department of medicine that will influence the future of healthcare around the world. Here is the case for expanding the core healthcare business model to embrace the idea that exercise is medicine, that lifestyle choices play a key role in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease, and that prevention is fundamental to the mission of healthcare. This is a comprehensive overview of why hospitals must be in the business of prevention.

The Blog Series will be posted in several segments, each designed to build upon the previous installment:

  • Post 1 - Preface and Introduction to Medical Fitness
  • Post 2 - Why Medical Fitness?
  • Post 3 - Medical Fitness Facility Development Part One
  • Post 4 - Medical Fitness Facility Development Part Two
  • Post 5 - Medical Fitness Facility Programming, Design and Construction
  • Post 6 - Medical Fitness Facility Operations
  • Post 7 - A Call to Action for Medical Fitness

A National Trend.   According to the Medical Fitness Association, an international organization established in 1991, clinically integrated fitness facilities have increased from fewer than 100 in 1991 to more than 1,000 centers nationwide in 2009.


First up...Post 1

Intent and Purpose

To give the healthcare professionals an arsenal of reasons why hospitals must be in this business.  

What is Medical Fitness?

More than the programs and services that are typically found in a commercial health club, medical fitness is the synergy that happens when exercise professionals work collaboratively with healthcare professionals to improve the patient care and inform the exercise experience.

What is a Medical Fitness Center?

As the physical headquarters for a hospital’s community health initiatives related to disease prevention, injury rehabilitation and chronic disease treatment, a medical fitness center is the venue for delivery of medically informed exercise and diet. Medical fitness centers offer a diverse menu of exercise-based wellness programming to patients, members and non-members. Highly trained, properly credentialed fitness professionals work in client-focused collaboration with clinical professionals. Centers are financially sustainable because they charge for their services through membership dues, ancillary fees and third-party reimbursements.

The Medical Fitness Mission

Bring the health benefits of exercise to the hospital’s constituency through both member and non-member programming.


Make a measurable difference in the health status of our nation through the promotion of active lifestyles, medically informed exercise and the elimination of unhealthy habits.


  • Be financially self sustaining
  • Serve members and non-members
  • Be more than a building
  • Serve a variety of ages
  • Respect privacy
  • Encourage social connectivity
  • Be integrated with outpatient medical services
  • Recognize the importance of diet
  • Include physician support and oversight

A New Revenue Stream.  Far from being a drain on hospital resources, a well planned fitness center is a new service line that can be a self-sustaining operation and boost your downstream clinical revenue even as it supports other healthy community initiatives.  

Up next time...Post 2 - Why Medical Fitness?