MOORHEAD — A Moorhead gym is promising to be much more than that thanks to a recently-received certification from the Medical Fitness Association.

EHP Performance, 1400 25th St. S., recently obtained the Medical Fitness Facility certification, making it the only facility in the Fargo-Moorhead area to carry the designation, owner Karla Wolford told The Forum.

Medical fitness is used to treat a variety of ailments such as high cholesterol, diabetes and mental health issues, Wolford said. The regiment is also used to prevent health issues.

Like a medical clinic, doctors at EHP Performance treat a variety of health issues but rather than prescribing medications, EHP drafts exercise plans and lifestyle modifications for its members.

"Our health care systems are being bombarded by sick care. We really see ourselves as the health care of the future," Wolford said. "If you can promote a better quality of life, a higher standard of living and movement through taking care of yourself and your body and stay out of the sick care system, this is truly what the health care system could and should be."

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EHP Performance's medical group includes a medical director; mental health professionals; nutrition coaches; prenatal, pregnancy and postpartum coaches; exercise physiologists; as well as USA Weightlifting coaches, CrossFit trainers and more. The group is overseen by a medical board of directors.

Wolford, who is a chiropractic sports physician herself, assumed the role of clinic director. She has a master's degree in sports science and rehabilitation in addition to doctoral degree and other fitness credentials she has accumulated throughout a career which has taken her from Moorhead to California, Missouri and Florida.

Karla Wolford instructs a class at EHP Performance and CrossFit in Moorhead.
David Samson / The Forum
Karla Wolford instructs a class at EHP Performance and CrossFit in Moorhead. David Samson / The Forum

Members, which Wolford said range in ages from three-years-old into their 70s, undergo periodic sports physicals. Results and an exercise prescription are created based on guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine.

"When an athlete comes in, they meet with a health coach every 90 days," Wolford explained. "We want to make sure they're meeting their exercise prescription and if they're not, why haven't they and find ways and solutions for them to do it."

Response from the community has been strong, which Wolford attributes to the fact that EHP, which stands for Elevate Human Potential, is the only gym in the area with a Medical Fitness Facility certification. According to the Medical Fitness Association, the nearest certified facilities are in Montana, South Dakota and Manitoba.

"This is not done anywhere else in this part of the country," Wolford said.

While medical fitness may be a "different concept" for new clients, Wolford argued that her program offers benefits that standard gyms or medical practices cannot. Interactions between clients and coaches is more thorough than at a typical gym because coaches know more about the client's medical history, their motivations and what inspires them, Wolford said.

"We get to know our athletes a lot better from that aspect of it," she said.

Adding to the facility's more personalized approach, EHP Performance offers a training room, where members can schedule a 15-minute visit with Wolford to go over their medical history, examine injuries and receive a treatment recommendation.

Because the diagnosis and treatment are all done in-house, Wolford said there is greater continuity between herself, coaches and members.

"It's just really having a better communication between doctors and coaches so that we can have a better continuum of care rather than a segmented or broken approach," she remarked.

Wolford said the certification represents a "premier opportunity" for area residents to take charge of their health through nutrition, physical fitness and better movement rather than taking medications.

"This is definitely for the people who are more driven to actively take that step in their own health and their own well-being," she said. "We're truly a place for driven individuals to take their healthcare into their own hands."