EIM Success Stories

Meet the partners, health systems, communities and individuals implementing EIM around the world!

ACSM/EIM Partner with American Association of Nurse Practitioners 

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) excitedly announce a new partnership with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP), the largest full-service national professional membership organizations for nurse practitioners of all specialties with more than 91,000 members. AANP seeks to empower all nurse practitioners (NPs) to advance quality health care through practice, education, advocacy, research and leadership.

“AANP is pleased to welcome ACSM as a collaborating partner,” said AANP President Joyce Knestrick, PhD, C-FNP, APRN, FAANP. “Physical activity is essential to health and the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases and health conditions. Working with ACSM/EIM, NPs will address the need to make patients aware of the benefits of incorporating physical activity into their daily routine.”

EIM welcomes the opportunity to partner with AANP as part of our goal to integrate physical activity into health care and ensure patients receive physical activity assessment, prescription and/or brief counseling, and a referral to appropriate physical activity resources at every clinic visit.

“Nurse practitioners are on the front lines of patient care, positioned to have a critical impact on patients’ health through preventive health approaches, including advocacy of a physically active lifestyle. We are thrilled to partner with AANP, learn from each other, and empower patients to take charge of their health through regular physical activity,” said Robyn Stuhr, Vice President of EIM.

As part of this partnership, EIM will seek to expand physical activity educational opportunities for nurse practitioners and work to promote referral pathways, connecting patients to local exercise professionals and programs. This partnership presents the opportunity for many new and exciting collaborations between EIM and AANP to advance the joint missions to improve the quality of care and health of individuals across the United States.

Translating Scientific Information into Ready-to-Use Recommendations

by Barbara Bushman, Ph.D., FACSM

What does it MEAN? Too often in our day-to-day interactions with clients and patients we inadvertently use terminology and lingo that has become common for us as we interact with colleagues; yet it is anything but clear for most people outside of our field. Consider these examples:

  • What is VO2max and how does it reflect aerobic fitness?
  • What is the difference between muscular endurance and muscular strength?
  • What is neuromotor exercise training and why is it important?
  • What does it mean to have progression within an exercise program?

Translating research and scientific information into ready-to-use guidance is a real challenge, and an inability to do so limits our effectiveness. We must strike a balance between providing clear, accurate information while not being so simplistic that the message is lost, or even worse, offends listeners.

ACSM provides great resources to help professionals develop an in-depth knowledge base. Many of these resources are full of scientific language and terms unfamiliar to the general public. To help translate research into practical, applicable information, ACSM published the Complete Guide to Fitness & HealthAs editor of the original and 2nd edition, I can attest to the effort taken by experts in the field to ensure the “what does it mean” aspects of fitness and health were fully explained while remaining firmly grounded on the most current research and scientific statements. As a result, this resource can be used directly with clients/patients within a consultation session and as a wonderful at-home resource. 

ACSM’s Complete Guide to Fitness & Health features:

  • information on preparticipation screening that reflects the most current guidelines from ACSM;
  • details on the components of a well-rounded exercise program (assessments, samples, exercise pics/descriptions); 
  • nutrition and physical activity recommendations for individuals throughout the lifespan; 
  • dietary and exercise considerations for various conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, pregnancy, weight management, and depression.   

The guide is a useful tool to encourage and motivate anyone interested in pursuing improved health and fitness. Here's a great example how: 

During a yearly physical exam, Carrie, a 55-year-old female, learned she has prediabetes. Her health care provider suggested Carrie  increase her physical activity level. Currently, Carrie walks with a co-worker about 30 minutes/day a couple times a week during lunch. After discussing the benefits of physical activity with her health care provider, Carrie asked for assistance with developing a more comprehensive exercise program. Carrie is referred to David, an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist. David reviews Carrie’s preparticipation screening and further explains the value of a complete exercise program with aerobic and muscular fitness. David assists Carrie with completing a series of fitness assessments. After comparing her results with normative tables, David works with Carrie to develop an exercise program reflective of her current fitness levels and relevant to her goals. Sample programs, descriptions and photos along with specific information related to pre-diabetes and diabetes from ACSM’s Complete Guide to Fitness & Health, 2nd edition are incorporated in Carrie’s “take-home” program - educating and encouraging Carrie in her pursuit of better health and fitness.

Fit 4 Everyone's Business Model Leads to Proven Medical Results,  Provider Referrals

Alayna DeFalco, M.S. is the founder and owner of Fit 4 Everyone in Conway, South Carolina. DeFalco holds a Bachelor’s in Communications from Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from Kean University. She has taught and developed a variety of courses related to Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology and Recreation Sports Management for UNC, Excelsior College and Coastal Carolina University. DeFalco Fit 4 Everyone opened Fit 4 Everyone in 2014. Since then the facility has tripled its size in staff, members and equipment, and in the process Alayna and her team created a model with proven medical results.

We recently chatted with Alayna to learn more about Fit 4 Everyone's unique model and her vision for continued success.

EIM: What is Fit 4 Everyone?

Alayna: Fit 4 Everyone is a clinical fitness facility in Conway, South Carolina, that specializes in personal and scientific-appropriate strength training for those 50 and older. Our staff hold bachelors, masters and/or doctoral degrees in Exercise Science or Physiology from some of the best schools–including Coastal Carolina University–in the United States in this field. We utilize the local university’s Exercise Science Department, which increases our creditability with the medical field and increases referrals. 

EIM: What prompted you to open Fit 4 Everyone?

Alayna: Most fitness facilities do not hire experienced staff or utilize scientific programs for each client who walks through the door. Most facilities require a mass quantity of members to be able to offer lower-priced memberships. This business model allows for cash flow yet does not address obesity and the increasing cost of health care. Education needs to step in and be part of the medical model. Doctors need to know that there are professional facilities their patients can go to for chronic condition management or prevention. We know the medical field tries to encourage patients to exercise, eat better and lose weight. The problem lies beyond that statement. Doctors are not referring to gyms because they are concerned patients can possibly hurt themselves or the facilities do not have qualified, educated staff.

My colleagues and I opened Fit 4 Everyone in conjunction with Coastal Carolina University’s Kinesiology Department professors, interns and graduates. We only hire staff with a degree in exercise science, physiology or sports physiology. Our staff train members every time they walk through the door, and our programs cater to each person’s chronic illness and/or physical setback. Fit 4 Everyone is the ONLY facility in the U.S. with this business model.

EIM: Tell us more about Fit 4 Everyone’s unique business model.

Alayna: As Exercise Science and Physiology professors, we noticed a problem with exercise adherence. Average gyms allow members to purchase a membership just to walk through the doors and use the equipment. Education within the exercise science realm is vital for someone's adherence to exercise. Some researched barriers to exercise include fear of injury, lack of motivation, and lack of knowledge. To achieve success within goal setting, education must be present.

Take a dentist office for example. Most do not expect to perform their own procedure. It takes those with an education in the field to guide them through the process. This should also apply within the exercise science field. The human anatomy is a very complex machine, each with individual differences that are affected by internal and external forces.

EIM: How does Fit 4 Everyone connect with referring providers?

Alayna: Our business model guides members each time they walk into the facility. Our high level of management and expertise creates a respected referral source, bridging the gap between the medical field and the fitness industry. Our exercise programs are created on an individual basis after an assessment period and built based on the scientific principles of training. Gradual progression models are implemented to ensure appropriated adaption time periods for the human anatomy. This progression model allows for long-term exercise adherence, as the body slowly adapts to the physical and physiological stresses placed upon it. Each time our member walks through the door, their own personal chart is pulled, and they are guided by an Exercise Physiologist each session. This diminishes the uncertainty of progression and goal setting, therefore increasing participation and continuation of healthy lifelong behavior changes.

EIM: What is your favorite member success story?

Alayna: It’s hard to pick just one. Maybe it’s our 84-year-old client who can bench press 50 lbs. for four sets of 12 repetitions. She recently got engaged and moved out of an assisted living home into an independent neighborhood. Another favorite is our cancer patients who have shown such positive medical results that the owner of the cancer center wants to train at our facility. Or, the client with multiple sclerosis who tells you each time he walks into the facility, that without the facility, he would not be walking. Or the countless clients with cardiovascular disease who have been able to lesson or delete medications. We have so many stories to share…I could go on and on.

EIM: What’s your long-term vision for Fit 4 Everyone?

Alayna: To have our model connected to every university exercise science program throughout the United States. Most universities teach and follow ACSM guidelines within our line of work. It would be beneficial if each program started a clinical fitness model like ours connected to each university (favorably grant funded) for the surrounding communities. This could have numerous benefits:

  • increase research development and opportunities for professors working closely in the program;
  • increase jobs for exercise science majors (required they also become ACSM certified);
  • provide more hands-on experience for our upcoming seniors/interns;
  • decrease chronic disease;
  • increase referral systems from the medical field;
  • give physicians confidence that there are standard measures for their patients and professionals in the field to trust; and
  • change some coding for health care companies as physicians look for professional organizations where they can refer their patients, especially for special populations.

EIM: What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or running the facility?

Alayna: I’m with my two children, Roman and Raegan, and husband. I met my husband at Rutgers when I worked at the university fitness center. We started lifting weights together. We are still avid weight lifters today. I’ve also been working on an app to better communicate with the medical field.

Visit www.fit4everyone.com or contact Alayna DeFalco, MS, if you’d like to learn more about the Fit 4 Everyone model.


Support for the Exercise is Medicine© Initiative is provided by:

Support for the Exercise is Medicine© Initiative is provided by:

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