Since the beginning, Spectrum was always strong, but today, we are at the peak of our strength.
I’ve been working hard for over a decade building Spectrum to help people feel better, move better, and be healthy. This required a different approach than what was being offered. The healthcare and fitness industry was not fulfilling these benefits for too many; specifically in three situations.
People were only given health care when they were sick and injured. Once the most basic function was established, they were sent off on their own, where they would struggle to fully recover. For many, this would lead them to get sick or injured again, and the vicious cycle would continue.
For others, they would seek the help of the fitness industry after injury, only to find that many trainers were poorly equipped to assess, design, and teach a program that took into consideration the diversity of needs of those without optimal health. Some trainers were simply not interested in the nuances of assessing, programming, and teaching, especially for those who were not athletic. They simply want to push people through workouts. Frustration, discouragement, and often re-injury were the result.
Finally, many people who had no injuries, just wanted to get in better shape, feel better, lose weight, or enhance performance. They often had two choices. The most common, get a gym membership and do it on their own. The allure membership of 50,000 sq foot facilities adorned with millions of dollars of elaborate machinery provided the false sense of security that having access would improve fitness.
This line of thinking is like dropping a kid off at the Boston Public Library and giving them little direction other than “go learn”. Or they could get a trainer, but as the above scenario depicts, there’s a difference between a trainer and a professional. A trainer runs you through a class or a workout, often predesigned based on her or his biases and preferred equipment, not on the client’s needs.
Essentially, they operate from a “fit a people into a program” mindset. But we need professionals. Professionals in contrast fit programs to people. This means assess, prescribe, teach, reassess, modify. It’s hard, so few do it.
Not convinced that we need true professionals to overhaul heath and fitness? We only need to observe the US fitness paradox for proof. The health and fitness industries have a long track record for failure. Over the 40 years, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity rates have soared. During that same time frame, the fitness industry has grown to a multi-billion dollar industry, with healthcare access, spending, and technology growing immensely. How can this be? The answer is simple: they are doing it wrong.
I’ve long believed we need true professionals at the front lines of not only disease prevention, but at maintaining and facilitating optimal health. Disease prevention isn’t just about breast exams and blood pressure readings at annual checkups. It’s about addressing movement dysfunctions, body composition, misconceptions about fitness, nutrition habits, strength, and many other critical indicators of health.
True professionals assess, prescribe, teach, reassess, and modify. This requires knowledge, skill, compassion, and creativity cultivated through rigorous academic and hands-on preparation. Specifically to fitness and health, professionals should not operate in silos of separate expertise in only rehabilitation, only fitness, only nutrition, and only behavior modification.
To be effective in making people healthier, you have to have substantial expertise in all the above. Sending people off to dart around to separate professionals in separate offices is not good or effective for people. True “people centered care” treats them as, well, people! (Not a person with a host of separate problems when possibly, issues that are so inter-related should be addressed as efficiently as possible and simultaneously).
Such an approach parallels how people learn motor skills. When teaching three different movements, practicing the movements variably in a session is more effective than blocked practice, or just spending 10 minutes on one movement before moving on to the other.
Clearly I believe, as do many others, that having access to true fitness professionals who have a deep understanding of exercise, rehabilitation, and nutrition is the answer to improving health and well being.
Starting Spectrum was my means of pursuing this vision. After a year, while seeing tremendous success in this endeavor, it was becoming abundantly clear that this was not something I could do on my own. With the addition of administrative support, and some amazing professionals to the team, Spectrum became stronger. We could help more people, reach out to others, and problem solve together to provide better care.
With the realization that my role was evolving to be more of an educator, I sought out to speak more to corporations and organizations, something I continue to do today, in addition to writing both blogs and articles. There’s much more to do on this front, something I will continue to pursue.
More urgently, it became clear that I needed to educate other professionals. Essentially, I needed to work on teaching the teachers.
I was fortunate that my first employees were fellow physical therapists with strong fitness backgrounds and a similar view of preventative health, but this is relatively rare. Also, I learned that there were more fitness professionals with a similar view of preventative health, but were lacking in rehabilitation knowledge, which is central to our vision of success; accordingly my focused move to include training the trainer.
Around that time I was offered the opportunity to travel the country, teaching continuing education courses to fellow clinicians. This has been very fulfilling, and reinforced how essential it is to get rehabilitation professionals more skilled in the profession of fitness services beyond basic rehabilitation.
Similarly, I learned Spectrum’s success would be limited if we relied on “catching lightening in a bottle” with having well-trained professionals in all aspects of wellness just fall in our lap like they had in our first few years.
It became clear to me that we shouldn’t set out to find great professionals…we needed to make them. No formal education trait existed to simultaneously develop the rehabilitation, fitness, and nutrition knowledge needed to effectively run our system of providing the best services for our clients. Thus, our residency curriculum through Spectrum University was created.
To qualify, a candidate needed to have a strong core foundation in all the basic sciences, as well as experience applying it. Most importantly was their personality: if they didn’t genuinely care about helping people and could not convey that, then no amount of knowledge or skill would work.
This program has churned out some amazing professionals, such as Dave Knight and Andrew Rainville, and our most recent hire, Zach Sinrich.
Zach has a degree in Neuroscience and is a certified personal trainer through the NSCA (the most reputable in the industry). Like Dave and Andrew, Zach has worked alongside me, Rob, and the other PTs working with patients at Orthopaedics Plus. It was clear Zach had a gift for relating to people, assessing their needs, and teaching. He would spend his free time hanging out with the Spectrum staff, observing clients, and training himself with us too. After completing the 8-week residency program with us with flying colors, it was clear it was time to add him to the Spectrum team.
So today, I’m proud to announce that we have a new fitness professional at Spectrum. Please join me in welcoming Zach Sinrich, CPT. Zach is also on his way to receive the Certified Special Populations Specialist (CSPS), which will formalize the recognition of the high level skills he already possesses. He will also be the first in the region with such a distinction!
Before making this announcement, I reflected on the Spectrum team that we have established at this moment, and it became clear to me that this is the strongest team we’ve ever had in Spectrum’s history. Sure, we’ve always had amazingly talented professionals. But the distinctive factor with this group is clear…fitness and helping people is what they were born to do. It was their first love, and what they’ve always wanted to do.
For too many, pursuing a career in fitness is done with one foot in the water, as a fall back if their true passion doesn’t work out. And that’s okay; we aren’t all blessed with knowing what our true calling is. But when you see a team that has IT, that true passion combined with the knowledge and the system to let it flourish, then it is an amazing thing. And this, by the way, this extends to our office manager, Joanne, who matches the fitness team’s desire to see our clients realize their potential.
If you want to see Spectrum at its strongest, now’s the time. Great things to come, so we hope you’ll hop on and enjoy the ride with us!