A Medically Sound Workout

Dr. Michael Turner
Owner and administrator of OrthoSport Hawaii

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I am a doctor of physical therapy, specializing in orthopedics. I received my entry-level training at the University of Florida, and went on to complete my clinical doctorate and a fellowship in orthopedics with the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.


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Dr. Michael Turner

What is your role with OrthoSport Hawaii’s new Medically Oriented Gym?

I oversee both our Medically Oriented Gym (MOG) and our outpatient physical therapy services. In addition to OrthoSport’s aquatic- and land-based physical therapy treatment, the new MOG allows us to offer ongoing medical fitness memberships to the general public and to our physical therapy clients as they finish with their rehabilitation. The gym is fully integrated into our physical therapy practice, which allows for collaboration between the medical fitness staff and physical therapy providers.

Why did you choose this field for your career?

I opened OrthoSport six years ago with the goal of creating a center of excellence for health and wellness in our local community. I have spent the past 21 years as an orthopedic physical therapist and physical therapy instructor throughout the U.S., Japan and South America. I have been fortunate to work with a wide variety of patients and have seen firsthand the positive effect of appropriate exercise on improving health, ability and quality of life. My passion has been to show people that with appropriate guidance anyone can achieve improved health and physical ability. No matter their age or condition, it is never too late to start exercising and making effective changes. We routinely see improvements in strength, stiffness, pain, balance and mobility that allow a more independent lifestyle. This holds true even for clients in their 80s and 90s.

What makes this gym “medically oriented”?

MOG makes participation in a well-designed health and wellness program possible for anyone, regardless of age, medical status or physical condition. Our challenge was to provide a setting where people would feel safe and confident in their ability to participate. To this end, we have gathered a team of medical fitness professionals who are undaunted by clients with health or orthopedic issues. We offer tailored exercise programs and supervised exercise performance. Our clients range from high-level athletes looking for a sports science approach to training, to medically compromised individuals who want to improve their wellness but may be uncomfortable or intimidated by a traditional gym setting. In many cases, rehab patients arrive at a point where insurance will not cover additional physical therapy, yet they are not ready to return to sport or even normal activity. MOG offers a way to bridge the gap between the end of therapy and the return to full high-level function.

What kind of classes does the gym offer?

We offer Tai Chi for Arthritis, Restorative Yoga, and Balance and Bones classes. Both the Tai Chi and Yoga classes are National Arthritis Foundation-certified and specifically structured to allow strengthening and flexibility work without excessive loading of the hips, knees, spine and shoulders. Some of the group participants even do it from a chair if they are not able to stand for the entire class. Balance and Bones is a class designed to focus on the problems of brittle bones and increased fall risk that accompany aging. The exercises improve bone density, posture, strength and balance in those concerned about osteoporosis and osteopenia.

We also offer a half-day RunFit clinic for small groups with instruction in proper running form. This includes video analysis of their running gait together with corrective drill instruction and practice. This clinic is ideal for new runners and those who are looking to improve their mechanics in order to minimize injury and increase speed and efficiency.

Our gym is set up as a functional fitness training facility. Rather than having a line of individual machines for each muscle group, we utilize weighted objects and equipment that allow exercises based on efficient human movement as a training stimulus. The equipment is diverse and different from what most people expect when they think of a gym. It almost looks like a giant playground for adults, and it allows us to develop exercise routines to challenge clients of any ability level in fun and interesting ways. This approach builds and strengthens muscles without putting excessive stress on the joints. It recruits large muscle groups across the whole body for a highly efficient session, with real-world movements that have immediate carryover into daily life. We also have an indoor heated saltwater pool for aquatic physical therapy.

Our staff is comprised of physical therapists, athletic trainers, kinesiologists, massage therapists and exercise specialists with extensive backgrounds in yoga and tai chi.

Are classes open to the public, or are they prescription/referral based?

There is no prescription or referral required for participation in the activities. However, we do encourage communication with the client’s physician. There are a number of physicians who do make referrals. Reasons they may refer a client often include weight loss, diabetes or blood pressure management, or even general conditioning.

Gym services are not covered by insurance. With a physician referral, however, our services often do qualify for flexible spending account and medical savings account use. These plans are generally employer-sponsored benefits that take the form of pre-tax payroll deductions, and can save a considerable amount for those who choose to participate in them.

All activities at the MOG are supervised and specific to each member’s needs. We have three basic types of service: group classes (kept small with only eight to 10 participants), individual training sessions, and general membership (for independent gym use after an initial fitness evaluation and program design session). During the initial evaluation, we analyze a client’s physical condition and then develop and teach them a custom exercise routine.

Anything else you’d like to add about the facility?

People tend to understand best what we can do to help them when they come in and try it (5722 Kalanianaole Hwy.). Call 373-1114 to schedule a free one-hour individual evaluation and introduction to functional fitness. Those who are interested in group classes can call to register for a free week of any class they would like to try.

If we can get people moving, we can make a difference in their quality of life. We can help anyone who needs guidance and direction to exercise safely and effectively. We bridge the gap between fitness and medicine. After all, exercise is medicine.