MedEx first opened in late October of 2008. The original space was located in James Bay Square Mall (Victoria, BC Canada). For the first few years, MedEx catered primarily to ‘people over 50 and those with medical conditions’.
Not part of any chain or franchise, MedEx was the first facility of its kind in Canada. MedEx was originally called MedEx Fitness Centre Ltd – ‘Medically-Based Fitness for People Over 50’.
We offered 3, 6 and 12-month memberships and had a very relaxed ‘contract’ policy. Our brochure read “No Mirrors. No Contracts. No Loud Music. No Spandex.”
News Spreads Fast
On February 4, 2009 a front page article on MedEx in the business section of the local newspaper led to rapid expansion with new clients and interest from other media outlets. By 2010, we expanded into the adjacent 1000 square foot space to offer group exercise classes as well as one-on-one medical exercise services.
A Booming Business Begins to Shift… Just in Time…
In 2012, we further expanded our one-on-one post-rehabilitation and medical exercise training in a big way. In February of that year Medical Exercise Specialist and Fit Forever owner Kelly Webb (now Kelli Gafter) was employed as the full-time Medical Exercise Training Director (METD).
Along with assuming duties as our METD, Kelli invited her personal training clients to join her at MedEx. This was the key to MedEx’s transition to a specialized Medical Exercise Training Centre. Six weeks later, we had over 20 new one-on-one clients that were being 100% supervised by our specialists. The program quickly grew as those clients shared their experiences with their friends, family and health professionals.
Between 2012 and 2013, we grew to over 500 clients with a variety of medical conditions that would keep a clinic busy for years! Nonetheless, we did our best to keep as many clients on the right track and free from exercise-related injuries. In a sense, we were “an all day open-door exercise party for people over 50”.
Based on analysis of the client population and its needs, the decision was made to move to programming based on specifically designed, assessment based, one-on-one programs.
Following that analysis, we briefly chose to open our services up to people 40 and older while retaining the ‘mature exercise environment’ so many had come to count on. It was a gamble that worked out better than we had imagined. Most of our senior clients enjoyed the infusion of ‘younger energy’ while the younger clients found working alongside 80 and 90 year-olds both motivating and educational!
By 2014, we were open to anyone of any age as long as we deemed him or her ‘medically stable’. ‘Medically stable’ means that the client is not experiencing any acute health risks that would best be treated by a medically professional as soon as possible. Acute health risks are not limited but include severe bleeding, possible advanced infection or other severe inflammation, pain or discomfort.
The Mother of Invention is Necessity.
One Door Closes While a Window Opens…
From a business operations standpoint, everything seemed to be holding fairly steady despite the fact that our clientele and services were changing and overhead costs continued to rise steeply. We were doing our best to ‘go with the flow’ while sustaining a very expensive and labour-intensive business. Unless we began a region-wide marketing campaign, we were not certain that we were in the right demographic setting to become a one-on-one focused business.
Eventually, the decision about our location was made for us. Early into 2013, a courier delivered a letter that stated that the James Bay Square Mall was being sold and our rent would be increasing dramatically upon renewal of our lease in November. At that point, it was clear that our business would not be sustainable and we were not prepared to continue operations in the James Bay Square Mall. And so, our search for a new home for MedEx began.
After viewing over 80 possible locations between March and July 2013, we secured an ideal space in the Times Colonist Building in ‘Mid-Town’ Victoria by late August. We alerted the new James Bay owners as to our intentions and preparations to move a 3000 square foot gym began.
The EPIC MOVE to ‘Mid-Town’ Victoria
In a community-supported move of EPIC proportions, 35 clients, friends and family members brought their backs, trucks, creativity and muscle to move MedEx. In one weekend, we moved all of the James Bay equipment (10 tonnes) to our new home in Times Colonist building’s lower, bright, warm and spacious courtyard (formally the Times Colonist Circulation Department) and re-opened 3 days later!
The New ‘Circulation Department’…a New Name…and a Steep Hill to Climb
On the first Monday in November 2013, we re-opened as MedEx Personal Training & Wellness Centre Ltd. with our primary focus being medical exercise and personal training services as well as massage therapy.
Having moved out of James Bay, many of our clients chose not to make the trek to Mid-Town. Although we experienced an 80% drop in clients, we were determined to establish ourselves as the premier Medical Exercise Training Centre in the Capital Regional District.
2014-2015. Re-Building the MedEx Brand
As unsettling as it was to experience such a drop-off in clients, our staff worked tirelessly to attract people in search of a medical exercise solution to their issues. Even though ‘medical exercise training’ was and continues to be a term most people confuse for physiotherapy or personal training, we discovered that our medical exercise training clients and others who worked with them were doing an incredible job spreading the news about MedEx and what value it was providing them.
By the start of 2015, we began to experience a steadier flow of new clients and were able to purchase equipment better suited for our rapidly growing medical exercise training centre.
Also, the remaining 20% of James Bay clients continued to attend workouts and stayed on track through personal coaching sessions with our staff. Most importantly, they continued to add their wonderful energy and spirit to our warm and friendly MedEx environment.
Canada’s Original and Premier Medical Exercise and Personal Training Centre
The MedEx of today is quite different from what we started nearly a decade ago. In James Bay, we had a general fitness membership of over 500 people with an average age of around 70 years old. At times, we had over 40 people exercising at a time.
Since October 2008, MedEx has conducted over 50,000 one-on-one sessions (initial assessments, exercise instruction, re-evaluations, ergonomic assessments, independent program design, massage, bodywork, and variety of other health and fitness-related services).
Today, we have over 100 one-on-one clients and a maximum of 10 people share the space even during the peak hours. Most times, there are less than 6 people at MedEx at once.
On any given day, our staff can be seen working with clients that are:
High performance runners, cyclists, swimmers, etc.
Heart attack survivors
Spinal chord injury survivors
Rehabilitating knee, hip and shoulder replacements
Managing back pain, arthritis and other related ailments
Managing Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, Cancer, etc.
Simply interested in ‘keeping up good health’
Interested in aging well
This is just a partial list of some of the things our Medical Exercise Training Centre specialists do.
MedEx also shares our space with Body Blueprint Fitness Education (BBP), Canada’s leader in certifying fitness professionals and personal trainers since 1986. Owner and lead instructor Christina Truscott continue to produce new and exciting courses for trainers across Canada and adds an extremely high level of professionalism and expertise to MedEx. We are very grateful to have her and her wonderful team on board!
2017 and Beyond…A Thriving Centre and Practice Leads the Canadian Division of the Medical Exercise Training Institute.
In November 2016, we began our ninth year in business. We are fortunate to have a very successful Medical Exercise Training practice that is supported by a steady flow of referrals from our clients and the doctors, therapists, chiropractors, lawyers and insurance companies that also serve them.
To keep skills current and on the leading edge, our staff attends continuing education courses and advanced training on and away from Vancouver Island. For example, in 2016, our team attained higher level certifications in Core and Spinal Rehabilitation and Conditioning, Myofascial Release, Assessment and Treatment of Thoracic Spine and Rib Cage Dysfunction, Restoring Function to a Stiff Hip Joint and Assessment and Treatment of a Distorted Pelvis.
Starting in 2017, MedEx co-owners and Medical Exercise Program Directors Richard and Kelli Gafter will be the Primary Canadian Instructors for the Medical Exercise Specialist Course throughout Canada. From Victoria to Ottawa to Newfoundland, they will train the next generation of Medical Exercise Specialists while doing their part to ensure quality of medical exercise training services worldwide and at home.