Our Pivot to Virtual Physical Therapy & Pilates, Online Physical Therapy & Pilates

Our Pivot to Virtual Physical Therapy & Pilates, Online Physical Therapy & Pilates

What's up? Its Stephen Dunn with CORE Therapy and Pilates in Austin, Texas. I’m the founder of Pilates for PTs and today I've been home now for about two weeks. I wanted to come on and talk a little bit about telehealth and a little bit about virtual fitness. 

We shifted completely about two weeks ago to virtual as we shut down our clinic and we have had our first week of full virtual, the week before we had a few people still coming in but very, very limited.

Last week, I want to talk a little bit about the people that we saw for telehealth and the other options that we are offering our clients to still stay in their world. We started with some telehealth and I had five telehealth sessions last week which was a great start…

I want more for sure but it was a great start and what I ended up doing was I ended up reaching out to every single one of my patients that has been in in the last say month or so. I reached out to every one of my patients and left them a message two weeks ago, left them a message last week, reached out again to them this week. Talked to some of them, been texting them. 

Last week there was a lot of hesitancy towards telehealth. This week there's a little bit more acceptance to it and just talking to people and seeing the new norm of their children in school through virtual means, all the different changes that everyone's seeing.

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Image via Depositphotos

So this week is a little more normal and we've been shut down for the whole month of April so we're not able to return until a few days in May as of now. Everything we've been doing the last two weeks I'm super excited about because we are starting to get some folks in.

I wanted to talk a little bit about things we're doin: telehealth for PT and some virtual Pilates classes and I'll get to that in a minute. The telehealth is very interesting because I'm a manual therapist who teaches Pilates as well. 

The first things I do with people is manual therapy so not having the ability to touch people is very, very strange and odd for me. Doing telehealth the first few sessions I wasn't really sure how it was going to go to be honest with you. I was unsure and it went great, everyone of them went great.

I stuck to the same philosophy that I do in the treatment rooms. Additionally, I had a conversation with them, asked them what was going on and found out what movements were provocative for their pain. For example of a lady that I saw last night, she has a partial thickness rotator cuff tear. 

I saw a few times before all this virus stuff happened. I evaluated her and told her what I thought it was. She had an MRI and it was pretty close to what we had talked about. During Covid she wanted to get started with Telehealth but she was really hesitant because she's known me for years, 15 years.

She's known me the whole time we've been open and she wasn't really sure how I could help her because I do manual therapy with her and then I move her over to work with my Pilates instructors. All of the sudden. she signs up for a virtual physical therapy session. We go over her MRI reports and I share my screen.

I'm pulling up images of the superspinatus and pulling up images of the labrum, pulling up images of the scapula, all the anatomy. Basically I was able to give her a lesson on everything with her MRI report as if I was right there in the room with her. It was fantastic.

She learned more from me in that few minutes than she's learned from any of her doctors that's been working with her through this process. In fact she had an appointment with her doctor last Friday that was supposed to be a telehealth appointment. They ended up calling her and saying we're going to call you instead because we can't figure out this telehealth… and the doctor didn't even call her.

The nurse called her and said your MRI reports pretty much not that big of a deal, call us when this virus is all over… so they totally blew her off. I’m reaching out to her, I am texting her and I’m calling her and I'm asking how I can help her and she does a telesession, all right!!!

She has pain with flexion, she has pain with hand behind her back, she's limited about to 100 degrees of flexion she can not even get to her SI joint with hand behind the back. I walk her through the program of what I would teach her to do at home but I just had her do it…

I had her do it right then and there. Also, I had to release her chest with a ball, I had a release the levator and upper trap with the ball. Also, I had her stretch her chest, upper trap and levator and then I had to lay on the foam roller.  On the foam roller we started with some scapula stabilization with abdominal stabilization exercises. Then I had her to do some lat pulls on the foam roller, some isometrics for the shoulder and a little bit of empty can... 

That's what I took her through. It was a 45-minute session she signed up for but we probably spent about an hour and five minutes just because we were taking our time and laughing and joking and a few tangents in there as well. After the session she had about 150 degrees a range of motion with no pain where she had pain at about 100 degrees flexion to start. 

Her hand behind the back improved by two inches or so, three inches of improvement but the idea that I didn’t touch her and she felt better. She got off of there tickled pink, she was so excited and it was one of those things that she's like, wow I didn't really know what and how this was going to help me! That's my most recent session.

I had a guy with back pain. Also, I had a lady having trouble with vacuuming and getting things out of her dishwasher. I watched her do all those things and gave her tips. All of the sudden I'm in someone's home helping them and I can see in what they have available to them. 


Images via Pixabay

One lady was talking about some trouble she was having in our virtual Pilates class with my trainer and I'll get to that in a second. I saw she had a big exercise ball, Swiss ball, stability ball behind her in the room. I said hey grab that ball there and let me show you a few things. By being in her room, in her space I was able to teach her some new things.

Now let's talk a little bit about our virtual fitness, our virtual Pilates. That's something else that we're offering that actually is having less resistance from our clients. We're offering virtual Pilates classes and so we have a group class and it's all through zoom and we're charging $20 a class.

If one person signs up we teach it, if no one signs up we don't and we've had from one to four or five people in those classes. It's small, it's slow gains and slow growth but it's allowing my instructors to work from home because they're not able to come to the studio, they're not able to generate income. Now they can teach a class through zoom and have people come on board and take it. 

We're offering about three or four of those a day virtually and we're probably getting people to about two to three of those a day. My staff is also teaching private Pilates sessions, so instead of someone coming to us and working out on the equipment we're working them out and watching them and seeing what they're doing at home.

Those are the ways that we’re adapting and changing to what's going on but I have a lot of clients that are 65 and older who aren't really interested in virtual anything. It scares them. They don't want to do a virtual class, they don't want to do anything that has to be at a certain time.

What we're doing is we’re recording these virtual classes and then I'm putting them on an unlisted link and I'm selling them to the people who are not into virtual stuff and who want it on demand. 

That's a scenario where I'm on the phone with someone and telling them all of our new offerings and they're saying I'm not interested in virtual and doing that and I said well you can buy a class, we're selling a class and we'll send you the video and you can have access to it and you do it as much as you want, anytime you want.

Yesterday one of my clients said I'll buy five and and he's really just doing it because he's trying to help us out. I’m charging twenty bucks a video so a hundred bucks and then I sent ten instead of five videos. These group zoom classes are videos that we're repurposing to put into a monthly membership site called Pilates To Thrive. 

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Image via Depositphotos

 Visit www.PilatesToThrive.com to join the monthly membership. Now we’re about to launch a membership site where people can pay monthly to have access to about 80 videos that we've been putting together over some time. 

For our virtual world, we were working on this membership pre Covid but we were not working on telehealth, we were not working on virtual Pilates. Those things were born in my business in basically two days. Is virtual making enough money to pay the bills right now? 

No! But it's keeping me serving my clients and it's keeping me front of mine with those people. I've been on the phone with people that said Stephen you're the only person that's called me out of all the people I do business with, out of all the people I work with, you're the only person that's called me and taking the time to chat with me. I'm talking to people for twenty-thirty minutes on the phone.

So that's what I'm doing guys I wanted to share this with you because we are in unprecedented times, my telehealth sessions have actually been going great it's just a matter of convincing my clients that it's worth their while...

We had our first guy that called in to the studio and is signed up for telehealth with Andy. He's a new patient where everyone I'm talking to is one of our existing or past clients that we've known for some time. So we got our first new lead coming in this way as well as getting some of our old clients.

I'm seeing about one person a day right now through the telehealth option so and it's typically in the afternoon from my experiences. I have had one person sign up in the morning and the rest of them have been in the afternoon.

That's my story guys… I hope this helps and I hope y'all are being proactive through this time. Make a pivot, do something different, don't wait for someone to help you. Get out there. We have time now so reach out, nurture your people so that when this is done... those people that I've been calling and talking to they're gonna know me when this is over. 

I just got a text saying someone's having difficulty scheduling their telehealth session. Let me run so I can reach out to them and make sure they get everything taken care of.

Y’all have a fantastic day guys… comment below with any questions you have and let's keep each other moving forward...

Thanks guys!

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