Eric Durak Founder Medhealthfit
President and Founder

If there were ever a gift to the industry after so many clubs being closed, GLP-1 offers a way to enhance the lives of millions of people, and produce quality programs that will improve health, and have actual outcomes for the industry.

shape-Light-Blue.pngThe Rise of the GLP-1 Medications  

There was a time when the health club industry stayed as far away from “medicine” as possible.  They let doctors do their thing.  They didn’t recommend too many supplements, and stayed in their wheelhouse of personal training and group exercise classes, and felt good when they grew their businesses, and made a mark on their community.  Then a funny thing happened.  In the 1980s, research started to be published stating that exercise had an impressive impact on many types of diseases.  It lowered risk factors in diabetes, improved heart and blood flow in cardiac patients, improved the quality of life and immune systems in cancer survivors, reduced pain symptoms in persons with orthopedic conditions, and even had an impact on weight management.  However, the industry wasn’t too quick to embrace these people into health clubs, as they may pose some risk, but also may not make good members.  They chose to stay in that wheelhouse of body builders, athletes, family members, and business people to round out their membership.  

Slowly however, these medical members did come to classes.  They did small group exercise, pilates and yoga, and hired personal trainers (who had to get special certifications for these medical situations) and actually felt better at the club.  As more research came out showing the benefits of exercise, the industry embraced special populations with more programs, and collaborations with local doctors.  

Then covid came, and health clubs closed their doors, because public health officials told them they were “non essential”.  It was a sad time for the industry, and some of the experienced managers and executives thought how they could become “essential” as hospitals, clinics, and therapy centers stayed open, and some brazen owners did open their clubs again, and again the research found that clubs had a very low incidence of infection rates among their members.  

Perhaps the most important way to be essential. and to keep their doors open would be to accept medical patients as part of special programs, referred by doctors, and carefully constructed to ensure quality and support.  Where would many of these clients come from?  

Enter Ozempic.  One of the most prescribed medications for diabetes and weight loss over the past few years, Ozempic (and Wegovy and Zepbound) and other GLP-1 drugs became the method of choice for persons to lose moderate to large amounts of weight over time.  One of the side effects is that GLP-1 meds also strip away lean tissue.  One of the best ways to possibly preserve this tissue (muscle) is to lift weights.  Since clubs are the only business with strength machines – they would make the perfect place for GLP-1 clients to come and train. 

However – these trainers didn’t know too much about this medication, so they would need to understand the elements of long-term use of Ozempic – like dehydration, behavioral issues, sleep disturbances, constipation, stomach problems, etc.  Many of these can be reduced through lifestyle coaching in addition to lifting weights, and the strength program itself needed to be tailored to the amount of medication, calories ingested that day, overall fatigue status, and other factors.  It was a big responsibility for trainers and fitness staff, but since companies are now referring patients to clubs – it seemed like the best course of action to bring people who normally would not join health clubs (something the industry has been seeking for decades), and develop specific programs to keep the weight off, retain the muscle, and change their lifestyle through exercise and nutrition program.  It really was a great scenario.  

But where could these trainers go for such education?  They turned to Medical Health and Fitness, who for over 30 years developed those very education programs for conditions such as hypertension, prenatal exercise, cancer care, diabetes, home health care, and worker’s compensation training.  MHF even has a specialty course to understand laboratory blood work.  

The new course – the GLP-1 Exercise Specialist CEU program is perfectly taylored for trainers who want the foundation for working with GLP-1 clients – and when following the aspects of this course, trainers can develop outcomes-based programs using the tools of their trade – strength machines and body composition analysis.  In the process, they will bring in that special group of weight loss clients, and help guide them to a new healthy lifestyle. 

If there were ever a gift to the industry after so many clubs being closed, GLP-1 offers a way to enhance the lives of millions of people, and produce quality programs that will improve health, and have actual outcomes for the industry.  We’re proud to launch our education program just in time to help the industry achieve these goals. 

About Eric Durak

Eric Paul Durak is a fitness industry maverick, known for his trailblazing career that defies convention. After completing his graduate studies at the University of Michigan in Kinesiology with a focus on Exercise Physiology, Eric embarked on a transformative journey. He joined the prestigious Sports Training Institute in New York City, where his talents were quickly recognized. Within just ten months, he was chosen to relocate to California to spearhead the development of a clinical exercise lab specializing in diabetes care. He pioneered research in both exercise and MRI-based body composition analysis, becoming a recognized global authority and achieving groundbreaking results in the relationship between strength training and blood sugar levels.

This pivotal moment marked a turning point, expanding Eric’s horizons from fitness to high-level research, collaborating with some of California’s top scientists at the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute. In 1993, Eric’s passion for wellness led him to create the Cancer Well-fit Program, one of the nation’s pioneering initiatives. In recognition of his groundbreaking work, Eric was honored with the first-ever IHRSA Institute award in 2000. To this day, the Cancer Well-fit Program continues to positively impact the local community, thanks to the dedicated team of Cancer Exercise Specialists he assembled. Eric’s influence extends beyond fitness training; he has made significant contributions to the fitness certification arena. His collaboration with leading agencies and the development of numerous clinical certifications and continuing education courses (CEU) have left an indelible mark.

For over 17 years, Eric transitioned to the University of California, where he focused on wellness and injury prevention. His role encompassed a unique blend of prevention and safety, seeing reduced injury claims and large scale cost savings for campus departments during his tenure. In 2021, he returned to his roots at Medical Health and Fitness, reinvigorated and poised to revolutionize the health club industry.

Eric’s current mission is at the intersection of clinical research, fitness, and healthcare, as he partners with Life Core Group to create innovative ways of funding gym and health club programs. By harnessing Health Account Dollars (HSA, HRA), they aim to pave the way for the nation’s first wellness health plan, reshaping the trajectory of healthcare by using gyms and health clubs as conduits for change. promote wellness and manage worker’s compensation claims.

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