PHYSICAL THERAPY is a drag—particularly for devoted athletes. Sidelined by an injury, they find themselves at a physical therapy facility, plodding through the same generic protocol as a septuagenarian next to them. So more people are turning to integrated gyms that put bodywork and high-level training under the same roof.
“The traditional PT setting is often factory-like,” says Corinne Croce, a doctor of physical therapy. So she and Dariusz Stankiewicz, a seasoned trainer, co-founded Body Evolved in New York City to tag-team clients based on their needs. “Some come in with injuries that need to be addressed before they can begin training again, but often they want to get fitter and move better,” Croce says. “We’re modeling it after what pro athletes do.”
Come in with an injury and you’ll see Croce first; otherwise, new clients start with a movement assessment from Stankiewicz. He and Croce are constantly conferring about how to shepherd clients toward their goals, often switching off as people’s needs change.
Body Evolved is one of a growing trend of integrated gyms that combine training and therapy. The concept isn’t novel; for sports teams it’s standard practice, and the reason top athletes can train so hard without landing on the disabled list. When weekend warriors get hurt, they have to figure things out themselves—which helps explain why injuries plague people for years.
Everyday athletes also appreciate that these places don’t feel clinical. “In our space, the exam tables are near the squat racks and turf,” says Dan Jensen, physical therapist and founder of Physio Performance in Rapid City, South Dakota. The other benefit to having trainers and physical therapists working closely is the mindshare: Workouts adopt elements of body mechanics, while physical therapy may include barbells and kettlebells.
Expect this to become a new norm. After a decade of intense boot camps, CrossFit, indoor cycling, and road races, Americans are investing in recovery and intelligent training. And more gyms are beginning to add expertise and testing. (Think gait and force analysis, physiatry, and nutritionists.)
Still, it’s not cheap. Training fees can be expensive and vary based on geography, while health insurance typically covers only limited physical therapy. But if you’re ready to train smarter, for the long haul, it’s best to get all the help you can.
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