Thinking outside the healthcare box as you start and grow your practice!

To continue along the theme of wellness offerings, as well as how to get started, I wanted to share information about one of my first offerings: a Wellness Boot Camp for individuals with Parkinson disease.


I had a few reasons for doing this Wellness Boot Camp:

1.     I am inspired by the non-profit Parkinson Wellness Recovery who I work closely with. They have an exercise retreat once a year and I have participated for the past few years. It is an amazing experience and I wanted to bring some of that energy to my community.

2.     I believe strongly in physical therapy and exercise, but also think that other aspects of wellness are extremely important, and are not being addressed as much as they should be elsewhere in healthcare. If people have terrible nutrition, they don’t have the building blocks to participate and thrive with vigorous exercise. If they aren’t sleeping at night, they are going to have a hard time pushing themselves and being active during the day. I wanted to figure out a way to include this programming along with exercise. I didn’t want to do the wellness programming separate from exercise, I didn’t want to just do evening lectures or a symposium that is all education. I wanted Exercise+Education! There is also evidence of course, for increased learning following exercise, so why not maximize the participants chance of learning and absorbing this material!

3.     I was focusing on group exercise because that was something that people had limited access to in our community, and I could reach more people in less time with that format.

4.     I was renting space in a PT clinic. I had limited hours during which I could run programming (lunch time!). When the PTs were seeing clients, I could only see individuals. For the Boot Camp, after we exercised, I set up a TV for us to watch the videos and see the powerpoint presentations in a corner of the clinic where we were out of the way.

I had an idea that I was excited about, but I wanted to make sure people would be interested! I surveyed a few of my clients to see if this was something they would be interested in-it was!

I set up the first boot camp this way:

I had determined that I needed revenue of $150/hour for any programming I wanted to do, to make it sustainable.

10 participants x $150 = $1500/10 hours = $150/hour revenue for the Boot Camp.


Wellness Boot Camp




Goal of 10 participants


Exercise 12-1pm (MWF PWR! Moves, TTH Circuit Activities)

Wellness Programming 1-2pm including lecture/discussion

Daily Challenges (homework) to incorporate healthy changes into your lifestyle

Wellness education and discussion centered around a different topic each day:


Day 1: Exercise/Activity and Neuroplasticity

•       Video: “Intentional Medicine – shifting the focus of healthcare” by Libby McGugan Presented at TEDxGlasgow

•       Brief Presentation on Exercise/Activity as Medicine

•       Discussion on how to increase activity/exercise in their life


Day 2: Sleep

•       Video: ”One more reason to get a good night’s sleep” by Jeff Iliff. Presented at TEDMED 2014

•       Presented information on sleep based on Dr. Monique L. Giroux’s book: Optimal Health with Parkinson Disease

•       Discussion on changes that could be made to improve sleep quality and quantity


Day 3: Happiness/Mindfulness: How to train optimism

•       Video: “The happy secret to better work” by Shawn Achor. Presented at TedxBloomington 2011

•       Presentation regarding Mindfulness and happiness

•       Discussion on how each individual could incorporate mindfulness/meditation practice into their daily life


Day 4: Nutrition

•       Videos from regarding whole foods, plant based eating and the benefits for individuals with PD.

•       Presented information on nutrition from Seidl et al.

•       Discussion on healthy dietary changes that could be implemented


Day 5: Putting it all together/Longevity and Social Connectedness

•       Video: “How to live to be 100+” by Dan Buettner. Presented at TEDxTC 2009

•       Discussion on how all these lifestyle change could be helpful and how ultimately everyone needs to “find and live their purpose”.


A ”challenge” was given for each night to implement a lifestyle change based on the topic for the day.


I did the boot camp a number of times that year with fantastic results! I really enjoyed the format, and received really good feedback from those who participated. After running it the first time, I was approached by a woman who led a Parkinsons support for Korean Americans. She told me that most of her group members were not exercising, and she thought this would be a good way for them to start. For this group, since they weren’t already exercising, we did pre and post testing – guess what – almost everyone, got better, at almost everything we tested!


We also did an advanced boot camp for participants who had completed it before, including 90 minutes of exercise and 30 minutes discussion of wellness topics.

There are SO many possibilities with offerings like this.

You could of course offer something like this to so many populations: Individuals with MS, who have experienced a CVA, even a group with mixed neurologic diagnosis! The healthy lifestyle information is true for EVERYONE, but there might be small tweaks depending on your population. I also highly recommend incorporating partners/spouses/caregivers as much as possible, because they need to learn this information too!

Regarding the format, this information could be presented over a longer duration, maybe once a week on the weekend. If you are working full time, you could start a wellness series on Saturdays that includes exercise and wellness for a certain amount of time. Feel free to expand on these topics (I have so many more I would like to include!).

Bear in mind that the high frequency of exercise (5 days in a row) really makes a difference and people see the benefits of daily exercise, more than they would with it more spread out, but you have to make it work for your schedule! The other schedule I think can work really well is a long weekend format. You could do 1 hour of exercise and wellness on a Friday from 5-7pm or something, then do 4 hours of programming on Saturday and Sunday, 2 hours of exercise and 2 hours of programming each day.


10-11am Exercise

11am-12pm Education

12-1pm Lunch (great to have downtime/social time!!)

1-2pm Education (allow digestion to happen!)

2-3pm Exercise!


Depending on your space, you can include all different types of exercise. The weekend format could work really well if you are renting space in a PT clinic that is typically open during the week.

If you are recruiting new clients, individuals who are not exercising much yet, I would highly recommend some sort of assessment, even that could possibly be done in a group because the results can be dramatic.

There may also be the need to screen participants ahead of time, we can discuss that in a further blog. It is an important topic for classes, as well as other programming like this.

I hope this information gets your creative juices flowing!

What are you interested in doing that is outside the box? What inspires you to do things differently?

Doing the Boot Camp led to some of those clients joining my regular classes, and also inspired me to offer a monthly Wellness Workshop. I feel so strongly about these other aspects of wellness I decided to volunteer my time once a month to do an in person meeting, which now has a regular attendance of about 50 people.

What are you excited to create? What questions do you have about programs like this?

The other founders of the Neurocollaborative are also incorporating wellness into their practices on a regular basis. I will bring those up in the FB live and I’m sure they will be the topics of future blogs and FB lives!

I'm looking forward to sharing more ideas and growing our #iloveneuro spirit together!