The History of Dr. Michael Jones (MES Founder) and Medical Exercise Specialists

The overall concept of “MedEx” came from the work of the originator and founder of the Medical Exercise Specialist (MES) designation – Dr. Michael K. Jones. 


The Early Days 

In 1992, Dr. Jones was the owner and head physical therapist of a robust sports medicine clinic near Howard University in Washington D.C. as well as the director of a sports medicine clinic within the Howard University’s largest health club.

In the early 1990’s, insurance companies in the United States began pulling back coverage of physical therapy and exercise rehabilitation services. 1992 marked the year that the Clinton Administration slashed physical therapy coverage overnight. This had a severe impact throughout the health industry.

As an example, instead of post-surgical physical therapy services being covered for up to 26 weeks of rehabilitative treatment and exercises, clinics had to discharge patients within 8-12 weeks or less. In most instances, patients were left to fend for themselves, despite having functional deficits and/or pain that negatively affected their activities of daily living, their physical workday tolerance and their leisure time. Presently, these physical therapy timetables have decreased even more.

Although insurance carriers refused to cover “post-rehabilitation exercise” and these people would be required to pay ‘out-of-pocket’, Dr. Jones realized that a safe and logical clinical system was needed to manage them once they were discharged. But who would design and administer the “post- rehabilitation exercise services”?

Seeing there were a large number of physical therapy students preparing for entrance into Howard University physical therapy program, he created 12 new exercise protocols to teach them how to work with surgical and non-surgical patients being discharged prematurely from both rehabilitation therapy and exercise programs.

The original 12 protocols he created were for the most common medical conditions seen in the clinics: total hip replacement, total knee replacement, shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tear, Achilles tendon rupture, low back pain, cervical strain, meniscus tear, ACL tear, patella-femoral syndrome, hypertension and diabetes. These protocols were later included in the first manual utilized by the students of the first ever Medical Exercise Specialist (MES) Certification program.

He and his staff integrated the first learners of the protocols into his physical therapy clinics. Staff members were NOT allowed to deviate from the protocols. This proved highly effective for the clinic, the therapists, the trainers and the clients.

As functional outcomes were tracked, analyzed and the results published, news of this new field of medical exercise training spread to other city centers, national fitness conferences as well as health and fitness industry trade magazines.

Seeing there was a strong desire in the both the health and fitness industries for an educational and certification program to “Bridge the Gap Between Health Care and Fitness”, Dr. Mike coined the phrase title – “Medical Exercise Specialist”.


A Vision Realized

By the summer of 1994, Dr. Jones had successfully completed the first MES certification workshop and examination in Washington DC. Fitness professionals and other allied health professionals could now be certified as MESs. Timing could not have been better for everyone.

Corporate fitness had become extremely popular, as had the use of personal trainers. With patients being discharged earlier and earlier from traditional rehabilitation programs, many former rehabilitation patients sought out (or were directed to) personal trainers to help manage their physical needs. Having the MES certification was a key to meeting this need appropriately.


Keeping Up with the Challenges Ahead

Since 1994, the original Medical Exercise Specialist course as well as The Medical Exercise Training Institute (METI – based in Texas) has expanded it’s scope to keep up with shrinking insurance coverage world-wide and the general lack of appropriate exercise services for people dealing with sub- acute and chronic medical issues requiring protocol-based medical exercise training.

In many instances, the MES is the first professional to perform a proper musculoskeletal screening and assessment on a person dealing with ongoing physical dysfunction. It is not uncommon for an MES to carry out a new evaluation on a person that never had proper exercise rehabilitation for a major medical condition or past surgery.

Dr. Jones (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike) and the Medical Exercise Training Institute continues to offer professionals the highest quality of medical exercise training, education and post-certification support available to meet this challenge.

By the end of 2016, Dr. Jones and his team at The Medical Exercise Training Institute will have educated over 10,000 Medical Exercise Specialists, Post- Rehabilitation Conditioning Specialists (PRCSs) and Medical Exercise Program Directors (MEPDs) across the globe.

Looking into the foreseeable future, the need for PRCSs, MESs and MEPDs will only get larger. As such, MedEx is dedicated to bridging the gap between health care and fitness – in keeping with the original and continuing vision of Dr. Mike and the Medical Exercise Training institute.

Starting in 2017, MedEx co-owners and MEPDs Kelli and Richard Gafter will be traveling across Canada to teach the on-site MES course as well as hosting the online Medical Exercise Specialist Study Group of Canada (CND- MESSG). Together with Dr. Mike and the staff at METI, Kelli and Richard with manage the Canadian Division of METI.