Students in Scott Eide’s Sales and Marketing of Fitness Programs at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud quickly learned the difference between believing in something and advocating for it. As they researched the “Exercise as Medicine” initiative, it became clear that their commitment to the issue demanded action.
“The project evolved,” Eide said. It began as a brainstorm on exercise as medicine—the idea that a doctor can prescribe exercise just like medicine as a preventative or restorative remedy—intended “to initiate a conversation.” But what impressed Eide was “the commitment the students had.” They weren’t satisfied with writing letters in support of the exercise as medicine initiative; they were determined to follow through with face-to-face contacts with local clinics and doctors.
In all, Travis Evenson, Jessica Pautzke, Danielle Westberg and Andrew Wiener contacted and educated 15 medical organizations on the exercise as medicine initiative, with 12 facilities receiving information packets and 9 person-to-person meetings conducted advocating the initiative. These contacts then became follow-up calls for ReJuv Medical, the students’ community partner.
Rejuv Medical, in Waite Park and Sartell, Minnesota, is a unique fitness and therapy facility. Its goal is to use exercise and nutrition counseling in conjunction with doctor and/or chiropractor diagnoses for the whole treatment of the client—particularly special populations like those morbidly obese or diabetic, for example. J. R. Burgess, managing partner, was excited from the beginning when students approached him about marketing ReJuv to the local medical community.
“There are so many people to reach,” he explained, and he and his staff have limited time. The students provided “a good service” in creating awareness in the community and creating leads for referrals. The students contacted a lot of leads with at least two solid contacts, Burgess said, including Health Partners, which now incorporates ReJuv in its wellness program to its employees.
Burgess and Eide agree that one of the biggest successes of the project was the fact that the students broke down a lot of barriers. Travis Evenson recalled that one of his proudest moments was when the American Heart Association contacted Burgess as a result of Evenson’s persistent efforts. “The American Heart Association is one of the companies that I had contacted multiple times to try and get ReJuv’s foot in the door . . . . I ran into a lot of road blocks and thought I got nowhere with them.” The reward of that single contact was well worth the frustration in the end.
Without a doubt, passion is what drove this service learning project into the realm of meaningful work. Eide said that it was student belief in the initiative, “the belief that it was useful—it wasn’t just an exercise” that made the difference. Burgess added that Eide is a “phenomenal educator” whose passion for the initiative clearly shines through in his teaching.
Somewhat wistfully Burgess reflected, “I never got that type of learning experience when I went to school.”
Besides the two firm contacts for ReJuv and numerous new leads, there were other concrete outcomes of the project as well. Danielle Westberg accepted a paid internship with the company.
Travis Evenson summed up his involvement: “ I absolutely feel that this project impacted my future. It opened a whole world of experience in such a short period of time. I not only learned some of the ins and outs of marketing, I learned about how there still are people out there in this world and career field that actually put the client/patient first. It’s nice to know people like J.R. are out there to help build trust between clients and trainers.”
For more information on the Exercise as Medicine initiative, go to: www.exerciseismedicine.org.
For more information on ReJuv Medical, go to: www.rejuvmedical.com.