Clients? Patients?

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What’s Your Scope of Practice?
By Laura Monica

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An elderly man ambled into my class on crutches shortly after his knee surgery, bandages and all. I said, “I’m sorry, thanks for coming, but Physical Therapy is out of my scope of practice.” I expressed well wishes for his speedy recovery and asked him to come back with a Dr. release. I felt bad, but at the same time took it as a compliment. How would you feel? What would you have done?

Professional integrity is important when building trust with those you minister to.  Scope of practice could likely be one of the most important considerations of your ministry. Your participants/clients don’t really know what you are trained or qualified to do unless you tell them.

WholyFit Certification equips you to train healthy exercisers in the general population with the WholyFit Gentle Body Power Fitness System and also includes the following:

  • basic anatomy of the musculoskeletal system as it applies to GBP postures, of which the concepts, when understood by the trainer, can be applied to all exercise
  • exercise safety, the concepts of which, when understood by the trainer,  can be applied to all exercise
  • biomechanics of GBP Postures, of which the concepts, when understood by the trainer,  can be applied to all exercise
  • a unique multi-layer teaching technology system of appropriate exercise modification
  • discipleship of others mentally and spiritually by speaking, believing and applying the Word of God.

WholyFit Certification helps a lot to communicate exactly what you are trained to do, and what you are not trained in. So it is our responsibility as Fitness Pros for Christ to maintain truthful representation that glorifies Christ and only work within our legal scope of practice.

Not every fitness professional has considered the ramifications of their scope of practice, evidenced by the inauthentic representations from yoga literature I have heard, claiming healing qualities from poses… the fact is it is that it is exercise that heals, not yoga…

There is sometimes an unquestioned trust that a client puts in me, a relinquishment of their personal power that comes from immediate trust. I care for the trust my clients place in me, and put it in a special place of honor in the presence of Christ. But I really want to give them power, not take it.

Many times an exerciser has asked me medical advice, and because medical knowledge is out of my scope of practice I always reply, “Have you asked your Doctor? I can help you with fitness, but you need to go to your Doctor and ask her about that because it is out of my scope of practice. How can I help you today with your fitness concerns?… or I have a great way to maintain back stability! Wanna see?”

DEFINITION: “The scope of practice describes the procedures, actions, and processes that a healthcare practitioner is permitted to undertake in keeping with the terms of their professional license. The scope of practice is limited to that which the law allows for specific education and experience, and specific demonstrated competency. Each jurisdiction has laws, licensing bodies, and regulations that describe requirements for education and training, and define scope of practice.”

Use words like “maintain” (…back stability) and “prevent” (…hamstring pulls.) Saying things like, “This exercise will heal your liver” or “Standing on your head cures the common cold” take the trainer out of a fitness professional’s scope of practice.

In my own personal experience, exercise has healed me, and does cure me and does reverse my medical issues, but I refrain from similar universal claims for others since I am not a medical professional. What I CAN say is that exercise IS God’s good medicine! We can surely say that! Because God has all power and authority; and healing us IS DEFINITELY WITHIN GOD’S SCOPE OF PRACTICE. 

The most caring thing we can do is urge participants to pray for healing based on Scriptural promises about healing. In this way we refer them to the GREAT PHYSICIAN Himself.

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
—3 John 1:2

WholyFit is definitely healing, when we train people in the way God has created our bodies to work, but only so far as we cooperate with His creation principles, and we do so only as far as our scope of practice allows. We trust God to do the rest. In my experience, much of the healing people have experienced from doing WholyFit is supernatural and comes by the intervention of the power of God as we lead people into the presence of the Holy Spirit.

That is very wonderful, but we refrain from referring to this pheonomenon with claims like, “WholyFit heals.” We are not medical professionals, so we cannot claim it universally in light of our responsibility to professional ethics.  I have heard inauthentic representations from yoga literature claiming healing qualities from poses and unless the claimer happens to also be a medical professional with scientific proof, this is a breach of professional ethics. We need to be careful not to echo yoga’s unsubstantiated scientific claims. Exercise heals. Of course that is proven. Yoga in and of itself is not what does the healing – it is exercise that heals because God made it that way. 

You can find yoga’s assertions of unique healing qualities anywhere on the internet. The credit is usually given to belief in chakras, Kuhndalini power, the Self’s deity, etc…At a surface level, we christian fitness professionals do not choose to participate in classical yoga training with mantras, chanting and the whole spiritual teaching aspect. At a deeper level, Kuhndalini power, a spiritual serpent coiled at the base of the spine waiting to be unleashed, is something we do not want anything at all to do with! We would certainly never lead our beloved participants into submitting their spirits to a power outside of God because we believe that doing so is actually in opposition to God.

In addition, frankly, I personally don’t believe the science behind the claims I have heard yoga instructors make, and their clients repeat.  Pseudo-science has no part in WholyFit certification trainings. We just want good, scientifically proven exercise. We all agree not to be a part of the yoga community and all, but to remain separate. I always correct people when they say, “your yoga class,” by gently reminding them, “I am not a yoga teacher. I teach WholyFit.” 

We can and do aid people in their healing processes! We just need to limit the power of our honorable intentions and avoid crossing the scope line that I have seen many fitness professionals cross.  When they do, they misrepresent themselves and hurt their trainer-client relationships. 

Why not include your exact scope of practice on your initial intake forms? Tell your participants what you have spent so much time and effort learning! You are so very well trained so share your exact expertise as a WholyFit Certified Fitness Pro for Christ:

WholyFit Certification equips you to train healthy exercisers in the general population with the WholyFit Gentle Body Power Fitness System and also includes the following:

  • basic anatomy of the musculoskeletal system as it applies to GBP postures, of which the concepts, when understood by the trainer, can be applied to all exercise
  • exercise safety, the concepts of which, when understood by the trainer,  can be applied to all exercise
  • biomechanics of GBP Postures, of which the concepts, when understood by the trainer,  can be applied to all exercise
  • a unique multi-layer teaching technology system of appropriate exercise modification
  • discipleship of others mentally and spiritually by speaking, believing and applying the Word of God.

Applications:

So when a participant asks you, “What should I do about this?” If the topic is outside your scope of practice, the best thing you can say is, “The Bible says_____. Can I pray with you?”

If the person has a serious medical issue that prevents them from being able to safely do the Layer 1 exercises, I would gently require them to bring a doctor release before attending my class again. I would ask permission to speak to their doctor, but that is optional. The main point is to completely understand your participant’s medical issue. Then I would follow the doctor’s advice if I have it, and modify the exercises accordingly for this participant when they come back.

Another great thing to do is to refer your client to a local licensed medical professional. This will build respect between you and your local medical community!

Next time you go to your personal physician you might say, “I teach fitness classes called WholyFit. Can I refer people to you for proper diagnosis and treatment when I suspect an issue is outside of my scope of practice?” “Can I call you if I need your advice?” Wow! What a resource! I have a wonderful relationship with my chiropractors and learn so much!

Communicating your scope of practice to your participants will give them confidence to follow your exercise sessions with more attention to your technique cues and it will help them to understand you care for them and will partner with you to achieve their fitness goals. In addition, working within your practice is good for the fitness industry as a whole, which currently is in a terrible tumble out of the former days when safety was paramount. Help your WholyFit team receive the professional acknowledgment and incorporation into the fitness industry that we all deserve.  WholyFit certification is a safety-oriented certification and that is very unique in the current fitness culture, but that is for another article…

So What Do You Call Those You Train?
Patients? Clients?

Our class attenders are not patients, since we are not giving medical care. ‘Patient’ indicates a doctor-patient relationship. Even so, most of our participants are definitely suffering and would probably fit that description.

Patient: “A person who receives medical care of treatment.” The word comes from “pati” which means, “one who suffers” in Latin. 

What about “client?” Client is used as a synonym for a patient “who receives health care in an ambulatory care setting, especially when health maintenance rather than illness care is the primary service provided. (https://www.nursingcenter.com/ncblog/april-2016/for-whom-do-you-care-%E2%80%93-patients-or-clients?feed=717b8dce-13c5-451b-a340-ec38224c7bec

The word “Client” comes from ta Latin word meaning “to lean.” That’s beautiful! Client is defined as “one who is the recipient of a professional service.” Well that works! Our clients however, are much more than customers and in fact many WholyFit instructors do not charge a fee, which makes the term “client” not very specific for us. What do we call those to whom we minister to through WholyFit?

So while “client” works on some levels, we’ve decided the term “Patient” does not. Patient indicates that the doctor is in charge and the patient is in need of following orders in an hierarchical way. The Dr. is the “fixer” and the patient is not a part of the “fixing” team. It implies there is something wrong with the individual and that we are there to fix them. Client implies a more collaborative relationship with equal responsibility, hierarchically speaking. One is not in charge of the other, both work together. The client gives input and makes choices. When a participant chooses me as their trainer and then makes choices within the opportunities I offer, they become my client, whether they pay me anything or not. Does it work for you? Maybe, maybe not.

Find a term to call your participants that works for you, that communicates an Overcomer-based, solution-focused collaboration, where the client can be most involved and present as we guide them through the process of becoming fit. I like my relations with my participants to be completely honest and transparent. I see it as part of my ethical obligation as a Christ follower and as a Fitness Pro for Christ.  From an economic point of view, I want consumers to understand the value of what we provide, what we do and what we say, so that they can make the right choice by seeking out our fitness guidance.

I hope more fitness clients choose WholyFit Certified instructors as their trainers and I pray more fitness professionals will get WholyFit Certified! I want WholyFit to continue to be a successful, known and respected certification within the fitness industry. Our instructors will continue as the premium source of Christ-centered fitness, having mastered the client/trainer relationship, because our favorite term for a participant is “friend.”

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