Have you hit a roadblock in your career, fitness routine, or another area of life? Eric Oliver, Owner of Beyond Exercise (a highly-regarded holistic physiotherapy, fitness and nutrition center), can relate in more than one way. He’s walked the walk of overcoming obstacles and fears. At times in his career, did he want to quit? Sure. Was he scared of failure? Yes. But did he persevere? Absolutely.
Recently, Eric sat down to talk with me about his
company (nominated a semi-finalist for the 2019
Groering Center Family and Private Business Award),
about thinking outside the box, and also taking care
of the body … beyond exercise.
Today's Spotlight: ERIC OLIVER
Physical Therapist, Running Specialist, Founder of
Beyond Exercise, Husband, Father & Christian
Me: I’m always interested to learn why or how people end up in the fields they work in. So, start off by telling me a bit about your business and profession, and why you chose this path.
Eric: This will sound like a cliche, but I chose to work in the healthcare field because I wanted to help people. I chose the profession of physical therapy because I liked the idea of helping people return to their sport or activity after sustaining an injury. In high school, I had sustained ankle injuries playing soccer that required some level of rehab, and my personal experience in dealing with these injuries further propelled physical therapy to the top of my list of career choices.
After progressing through PT school, my first job was nowhere in the realm of where I thought I would end up: nursing homes. For two and a half years I worked in nursing home systems, and to be honest, I enjoyed much of my experience in this role. I learned more than I thought I would, and I learned to better appreciate the responsibility and weight that my clinical decision-making had on people’s lives.
Me: But you obviously didn’t stay there.
Eric: As much as I appreciated my time in my role in the nursing home clinical atmosphere, I knew that it was not my permanent resting place to set roots for my career. I then spent the next seven years trying to find my place in the physical therapy world. During this process, I nearly quit the profession. Twice! I considered joining the Cincinnati Fire Department. Rather, though, I took the Cincinnati Police exam, thinking that I would become a police officer. I still wanted to help people!
The reason for wanting to get out of physical therapy was simple, yet complex: I was burned out. I was tired of all the limitations in how I was able to practice my craft the way I believed it should be done. I was giving my all to my employers and my patients, and yet I didn’t think I was making the kind of impact that I thought I could. And this is the complex part. The problem is the healthcare system. Many times, clinical decision-making is altered by a healthcare provider’s dependence on health insurance reimbursements. In physical therapy, reimbursement from insurance companies isn’t very high for the services provided. In order for the physical therapy practice to cover their overhead costs and make a profit for themselves, a higher volume of patients needs to be driven through the door. The more patients per hour that the PT has to treat, the more that quality of care is reduced along with added stress of battling the needs of the patient and the needs of the practice.
Me: So you were fed up.
Eric: I was fed up, and just when I thought I was going to quit physical therapy, I realized that there was a way to practice physical therapy the way I wanted. I cut the cord from insurance. I knew of no one doing this, so I naturally turned to the internet to guide me. Thankfully, I found a couple of clinics in the country who were starting to do the same thing. I thought if they can do it, why not give it a try. And so Beyond Exercise was born.
Me: Why did you choose the name Beyond Exercise?
Eric: I named my business Beyond Exercise because I wanted people to know that when they receive treatment from me it was not going to be only about exercise. Rather, there was going to be a one-on-one interaction with me in which I was going to give you my undivided attention and provide treatment that would also include a hands-on manually based component. In other words, my philosophy was to provide services that went beyond exercise.
The name of my business has lended well to its evolution. In the beginning, I only sought to start a physical therapy practice. I soon realized that in order for me to really care for a patient to their end goal, I needed to offer more than physical therapy. I needed to offer a suite of services that could be used to help someone go beyond a rehab goal, weight loss goal, athletic goal, etc. I wanted people to look at our name and branding and realize that we can help them go beyond expectations by going beyond exercise.
Me: You’ve mentioned in the past that you’ve sacrificed precious time away from your family to make your vision a reality. I know that’s hard. What drives your passion for wellness?
Eric: As a clinician and healthcare provider I see what it looks like to not be well, and generally when someone isn’t well, they’re unhappy. There are many connotations to what wellness means, but for me it’s simply being happy while honoring your body. I prefer to be happy than not, and I prefer to see people be happy. My passion for wellness is essentially rooted in wanting to be happy and helping others do the same.
Me: Happiness is what we all want, right? But I know a lot of people struggle with their health. From your perspective, what is the most common mistake or misperception the general public makes regarding exercise or caring for their bodies?
Eric: A common mistake that people tend to display with exercise is that they neglect the importance of fundamentals. There are so many exercises out there that are derivatives of fundamental movement patterns that require a proper base of strength, joint mobility, tissue flexibility, and motor coordination. Yet, people will neglect mastering these fundamental skills, which include breathing, engaging the core, squatting, hip hinging, planking, upper body pulls, and upper body pushes. It’s not the fault of the person, because more times than not people don’t know what they don’t know, and the majority of people don’t know that there is an optimal way to perform these fundamental movements.
In regards to caring for their bodies, I think people underestimate how well our bodies are able to adapt to our environment and stressors, whether positive or negative. If you place negative stress to your body, the adaptation will also be negative, and vice versa. These negative and positive adaptations apply to exercise, nutrition, social habits, etc. We reap what we sow with our bodies.
Me: Yes, our bodies are like a machine. They need regular maintenance otherwise they’re more likely to break down. So now that you’ve motivated our readers, one last question. For someone who isn’t athletic or is out of shape, where should they begin with a fitness routine?
Eric: First off, I contend that everyone is an athlete in one way or another. Someone may not be an athlete in the conventional sense, but daily life requires some form of athleticism. For example, getting up and down from a chair requires a squat motion. Lifting your three-year-old from the floor is similar to a dead-lift motion (when done correctly). And so on. I want people who consider themselves to be out of shape or non-athletic to understand this because I feel that it lowers the barrier to entering a fitness regimen.
Once someone makes the decision to start a fitness regimen, he or she should start by setting a goal. You can’t move in a direction if you don’t know your destination. This goal should be realistic and attainable. You can also create smaller goals that serve as stepping stones and positive reinforcement on your way to achieving the bigger goal. From there, beginning a fitness regimen is as easy as picking something that interests you and will give you joy - walking, running, fitness classes, etc. There is no lack of options for people to start an exercise routine. If someone is completely new to exercise, though, I do recommend personal training because it is really easy to get confused and frustrated with the options of exercise that are available.
Me: And they need to learn those fundamental movement patterns.
Eric: Right. It’s very easy to develop an injury if you don’t have a good foundation of movement and strength. Having a personal trainer who will assess your current level of fitness and then develop a custom plan to address your physical needs as well as point you in the right direction of your goal can save a lot of time, money, and injury in the long run. Once you develop that foundation you will be armed with confidence in your abilities to tackle various forms of exercise.
Peace, health & happiness!