Integrating fitness into eating disorder treatment continues to be thought-provoking and intriguing to both patients and providers. Many patients, families, and outpatient treatment partners have labeled the movement component “the missing piece” to recovery. We have found that patients of all shapes, sizes, identities, and abilities express the desire and need to address their relationship with movement while in our care. At McCallum Place Eating Disorder Centers, we strongly feel it is our responsibility to hold space for our patients to address their relationship with movement, free from judgment and with comprehensive care. This mindset has resulted in implementing a “fitness for all” philosophy within all our programming options.
During our clinical intake assessment, counselors gather fitness and exercise specific information in order to help determine what value involvement in The Victory Program would have on the individual’s personal recovery journey. We work to ensure proper level of care placement and admission into the appropriate program track, our traditional treatment program or Victory programming. Our intake team considers various factors to ensure the Victory program is the most appropriate fit for one’s specific treatment needs and goals. These factors include one’s current involvement in sport/performing arts, athletic identity, level of competition, contemplation of sport retirement, athletic/performing arts scholarship or employment, recreational involvement, time away from athletics, and overall relationship to movement.
We believe it is important for all individuals, regardless of their history or current relationship with exercise, to be given personalized fitness support. Thus, all elements of our movement services are integrated for ALL patients, regardless of treatment track. Our programming is designed to weave a continuum of support from the first days of treatment to discharge. ALL patients have access to our fitness program, which includes the clinical expertise and support of our Victory specific multidisciplinary treatment team members. Our fitness and clinical staff are here to guide our patients throughout each stage of the treatment journey.
When medically compromised, our program is designed to provide an open dialogue and support around how and why one moves their body through non-active fitness consultations and weekly discussion-based groups led by our exercise physiologist. Once medically and nutritionally suitable, our patients will benefit from the opportunity to engage in movement through daily supported walks and active groups like yoga and dance movement therapy. Additionally, all patients can engage in individual and small group workouts with our strength and conditioning coach and exercise physiologist. During these sessions, patients are supported as they process thoughts and emotions that arise before, during, and after exercise. Patients also have the opportunity to re-define movement by engaging in supported weekly fitness outings with our exercise physiologist (hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking, kickboxing, Zumba, etc.)
At McCallum Place, we have created safe and supportive fitness environments, free of fitness tracking devices, scales, mirrors, and other reflective surfaces. In these spaces, fitness staff create various opportunities for our patients to open up about fitness struggles and triumphs! Before movement sessions and groups, our support staff will help identify each patient’s goals and intentions for their workout. During a patient’s prescribed fitness session, staff are available for processing of the thoughts and emotions that arise during the supervised workout. After each session, there is a designated time to process the movement experience, checking in with staff on how the workout went, discussing anything notable and communicating with members of the therapeutic treatment team for follow-up, as needed.
Our Strength & Conditioning Coach and Exercise Physiologist are here to support ALL our patients’ recovery-focused fitness goals. Some may include: recognizing and minimizing body checking and comparison, approaching the workout from a place interest or enjoyment instead of obligation, practicing socialization or solitude, regulating breathing and intensity, increasing connection to the body, showing up when struggling with depression or avoidance, being observational rather than judgmental of the way your body moves, or finding comfortable athletic wear with the support of our staff. We do not “push” or use triggering/diet-culture-influenced messaging. Our program is rooted in intention, choice, trust, self-expression, and body autonomy.
Our fitness staff will meet every patient where they are and help them navigate, heal and strengthen their relationship to movement in a way that aligns with their life and overall well-being!
Amanda Tierney, MS, CSCS, CEDS
Hannah Frazee, BA, EP-C
The Strength & Conditioning Coach (NSCA-CSCS) and Exercise Physiologist (ACSM EP-C) provide expertise and guidance to encourage variety, balance, flexibility, fueling, hydration, honesty, accountability, and fun in one’s relationship with movement.