Three Ways Pilates Professionals Can Start To Build Relationships with Healthcare Professionals

Mary E. Holtschneider, RN, MEd, NCPT, Pilates Method Alliance Board of Directors

As Pilates Professionals, we are proud to help our clients discover enhanced movement patterns, build their core strength, stand taller with better posture, and gain overall health and well-being.  Our healthcare professions colleagues share similar pride in helping patients move away from illness or injury, though each profession approaches this from its own vantage point and through its unique scope of practice.

My role as a registered nurse and health professions educator affords me the daily opportunity to interact with individuals from many different healthcare backgrounds.  We all share commonalities, including a deep desire to help those who need our care, to make a difference in others’ lives, and to be of service to the community.

So, how can we as Pilates professionals most effectively partner with those in the more traditional healthcare professions to expand the reach of Pilates to the broader public?

We should first seek to understand the work healthcare professionals actually do – rather than make assumptions about their roles – as each profession has a regulatory scope of practice that describes its work.

Many Pilates professionals work closely with physical therapists, whether it is through referrals and/or a form of collaborative practice.  However, there are other healthcare professionals that share similar beliefs about health, well-being, and the power of movement.

For example, many individuals are only familiar with nurses who work with patients experiencing disease, yet the nursing scope of practice includes not only the facilitation of healing, but the promotion of health.  Chiropractors focus on spinal health and emphasize that the body heals itself. Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, also known as physiatrists, work with patients who have physical impairments to restore their function and quality of life.  Mental health social workers treat patients with a wide array of emotional issues, including depression and anxiety, which are becoming increasingly commonplace in our current environment and could certainly be helped by a movement practice.  All of these healthcare professionals and others have the potential to become our collaborators in promoting Pilates practice to help physical, mental, and emotional challenges that individuals face.

Second, we should treat each as a person, not a project, as healthcare professionals are first and foremost people.

They have to actually be interested in Pilates themselves and gain some basic understanding of it before they will recommend it to patients.  A family nurse practitioner, with little knowledge of movement practice, recently remarked to me, “Tell me how Pilates could help ME become healthier, before we even focus on how it can help my patients.”

Third, as with all aspects of business, we should cultivate personal relationships.

Invite your primary care nurse practitioner or physician to attend one of your classes. Offer to do a private session for them or offer to attend a class with them as an exercise partner.  I did this with my chiropractor, who not only attended a class with me, but now explains the benefits of Pilates to appropriate patients and encourages them to pursue it.  He is what I would refer to as a “fan” of ours!  Though these individuals might not take you up on your offer to attend a class, it opens the door to continued conversation about Pilates.

Remember that no one wants to be in a one-sided relationship, so if you are seeking to partner with healthcare professionals, be sure to make it worth their time.  Perhaps they could offer a short educational session or a write-up for your email blast on their practice for your clients, introducing them to chiropractic care, physiatry, etc., and how it could be beneficial.

Ultimately, such relationships can broaden sources of revenue as Pilates and other health-related practices become more visible to each other and to the general public. This not only expands our Pilates client base, but helps improve the lives of our current clients as they progress along their wellness journey.

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