In 2016 I worked as a personal trainer at a gym.

I was hopeful in growing my business and the gym’s business. Trying to climb the corporate ladder, I thought I might have an influence over a bigger pool of people. My previous experience has led me to value an integrative approach, both in my personal business and in many other forms. It wasn’t long after I started working at this gym that I felt slighted by their desire to grow me professionally contrary to the way I intended. What I had in mind and what the gym had in mind for my future were two different visions. I wouldn’t consider this experience to be all negative because I learned a lot through my time spent working at this particular gym. I learned that the most important thing to me, professionally, was being able to extend my reach as a trainer and influence as many people as possible. 


Importance of Collaboration in the Fitness Industry

There is so much misinformation in the fitness industry, and having that realization led me to want to be the face of reason and show people how simple things can be.  If you ask any fitness professional about biomechanics, most will tell you it’s not easy to get people to move well sometimes. In those instances it’s important to have more assistance from other professionals. And not just any kind of assistance, but integrated assistance- where everyone is on the same page. Over time, I observed the way gyms seemed to want to keep everything separate. They didn’t want management to interfere with training, and vice versa. It’s very difficult for a business to run smoothly and effectively if they are not cohesive and coordinated.  So I began to consider other options. 


Because I witnessed these missing pieces in my previous work experiences, I began to envision opening a business that offered more than just personal training. A place where all the different facets of health were addressed in the same building. I knew that an integrated wellness business is something that so many people could benefit from.


Seeing the Need for Integration

 As a personal trainer I have failed many times with many different people. Not because I wasn’t good at my job, but because my clients were in need of services that I couldn’t offer. I’ve had clients who were having a hard time staying consistent and could benefit from mental health services.  I’ve had a client who was lacking energy and needed nutritional guidance. As well as clients who have had injuries and could have sped up their recovery with physical therapy. There are many services that I would consider a necessity before some people are ready to commit to a regular fitness regimen.  


Ampersand in the Making…

After looking at some business plans, I started coming up with my own so I could plan a wellness center. After trying for a few months, it was difficult for me to see how I was ever going to be able to do this on my own. It was a lot of work for someone who already works 40-60 hours a week.  I stopped working on the business plan and started connecting with people who were like minded. 

I had heard of this amazing massage therapist through clients and they told me how great she was. Gabrielle Warner was the first person I met who had the same vision that I did. She was already running a small wellness center of her own called E3 Wellness. I noticed that she was extremely professional and was an expert in her field. We connected instantaneously. We started bartering our own services and referring clients to each other.  Then, she introduced me to the nutritionist who worked with Gabby in her center. The nutritionist, Whitney, helped me with a lot of my own health issues and I then started referring my clients to her. I realized my network was increasing and I was able to help people even more by adding these referrals.


Turning our Dream into a Reality

Not too long after that time we decided to have meetings trying to plan how to open an integrative wellness center.  We all believed in each other’s services and aimed to be under the same roof so that we could utilize each other’s expertise  to have an even greater impact on people’s health. After two years of planning, our dream became a reality. And it wouldn’t have been possible without meeting other professionals along the way that aligned with the same visions. 


Moving Away from the Traditional Medical Model

I have had 15 surgeries in my life.  My experience with the major medical system has not been the greatest with my biggest complaint being how medical professionals do not communicate and work together.  Doctors and therapists disagree, nutrition isn’t taken seriously, mental health isn’t always deemed important – because of all these factors, my health in many ways got worse. Having felt that frustration for so many years, I knew I did not want that for my clients. This business, which took two years to plan, had goals to have a professional in every branch of the wellness tree.


Integrative Healing

Currently, having been open for just over a year Ampersand has most of these aspects covered.  Not only can I send my client to a service I trust and know will help them, I can walk them to that practitioner and introduce them personally. This has been huge for my clients and my own health. If a chain has a broken link it will no longer work as intended. This is true for health as well.  I believe wellness can only be attained if it is approached in an integrated manner.  I am so thankful to be part of a team who shares this belief. 


Treating the WHOLE Person

At Ampersand Integrative Wellness we share notes on clients so that each of us is able to gain more from other practitioners perspectives. This integrative model has been helpful for all of us – we are able to show up for each client more efficiently and help them progress in their healing journey. I believe most personal trainers would love to have notes from their clients’ psychologist, nutritionist, physical therapist, massage therapist, etc. because this information benefits the work that a personal trainer does, and vice versa.  We are hoping this sets a new trend and that more people will begin to recognize the importance of healing a person as a whole and not just parts.


The quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi are words we at Ampersand Integrative Wellness live by, and in doing so we are working to change our healthcare system.


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