The Transcripts from Dr. Joe Tanti interview with Colleen Wagner of Back on Track Specialized Fitness and Wellness Solutions

[00:00:00] Dr. Joe Tanti: Hey, this is Dr. Joe Tanti with the building a healthier you podcast. In today’s episode, my guest is Colleen Wagner. Uh, she is a, uh, she is the owner and founder of back on track, uh, ex specialized health and wellness solutions here in Edmonton. Uh, in today’s episode, we talk a little bit about, uh, her career, what she does and the people she helps with, uh, mostly, uh, are aging individuals or people who.

[00:00:26] Serious injuries or accidents or suffering with some type of medical condition and they need to exercise. They need to get strong and healthy and she, uh, she’s an expert in, uh, helping these. Uh, filter the way through their fitness journeys. Uh, it’s not your T she’s not your typical, uh, trainer at a box gym.

[00:00:47] Uh, she really knows her stuff and we explore a couple of, uh, what she’s been up to. Um, also, I hope you enjoy the show and I’ll talk to you soon.

[00:00:57] Hi, everyone. Welcome to [00:01:00] the building, a healthier Edmonton podcast. I’m Dr. Joe Tanti, your host, and today my special guest Coleen Wagner. She is the owner and founder of back on track, specialized exercise and wellness solutions. In Edmonton, Alberta, she has 35 years experience in healthcare and wellness.

[00:01:19] Her expertise includes working as a recreation therapist for over 35 years in Alberta and BC specializing working with individuals long-term care and community-based programs as well as with children with special needs. Her qualification, just go on and on and on. Colleen, welcome to the show.

[00:01:39] No, 

[00:01:40] Colleen Wagner: thank you. Thank you, Joseph. That’s great. 

[00:01:42] Dr. Joe Tanti: So you are a exercise specialist. And what, what exactly is that? What does that entail? 

[00:01:51] Colleen Wagner: I’m labeled as a medical exercise specialist and I took my training through the medical exercise training Institute in the [00:02:00] online, but I did do a virtual when we can training.

[00:02:05] Medical exercise. It’s a year long training I should say. Does is they develop an implement safe and effective exercises for general aging issues, degenerative issues and helps specifically tailor the program to your condition. And offers for management, lifestyle management and managing the symptoms and function of living with medical, chronic medical, especially chronic medical conditions.

[00:02:41] Not necessarily, I don’t work a lot with acute care because I come in after and the next step after rehabilitation where there’s chiropractic care, physical therapy. So I’m, once they’re done and they’re ready to go and want to maintain or improve their function and strength, then [00:03:00] that’s where I fit.

[00:03:01] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. So more people that are having some type of a chronic illness or condition such as maybe some type of spinal arthritis or hip or knee arthritis. And they’re out of that acute stage. But they’re still having issues. They’ve kind of done the rehab they’ve plateaued in terms of their improvements and that’s where you come in to help them improve further with a specific tailored exercise program.

[00:03:29] Geared towards them. And with that experience and knowledge of also managing those kinds of conditions. 

[00:03:37] Colleen Wagner: Yeah. No, and it’s, it’s great. It’s we set up a plan exercise as the primary modality, but then education and life and exercise, give them that PO functional outcome, positive functional outcomes.

[00:03:51] So I do a whole assessment process with them and I work. Closely with medical professionals, such as you to build that [00:04:00] team approach and, and help bridge the gap between healthcare and fitness is, is a, is a nice tagline that our organization uses. So. 

[00:04:12] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. And what’s kind of what’s happened in your history or led you to this point of deciding to work with this specific population?

[00:04:21] Rather than say there’s a lot of trainers. Athletic therapist out there, for example, that work with, you know, sports and people that are wanting to improve say their physique or improve their strength. And for performance in some type of sports or athletic event, what’s kind of led you to more the Older population.

[00:04:46] And by that, I mean, just not 20, not old, but it’s not 20. And that are dealing with more of these chronic illnesses and more challenging personal situation. 

[00:04:59] Colleen Wagner: [00:05:00] Right. Well, professionally, I love working with the older population and I worked in geriatric care for a long time and then have kind of, I shifted to more children.

[00:05:10] So I’ve kind of had a balance of recreation, fitness and rehabilitation throughout my years in working and my. Instead of working in a facility, I wanted to go back to the community and work with people like myself. And I found like I was going through different things in my life. I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, which is autoimmune disease, which affects the joints.

[00:05:39] So I couldn’t do the things that I could. As a personal trainer or a robotics instructor, I was the Jane Fonda type aerobics instructor. That dates me a lot, but that’s where I ended up with knee issues like the aging process. And so I [00:06:00] love working with all, all age groups, but. I am the people that were coming to me out of just general personal training had degenerative joint issues.

[00:06:11] They were maybe waiting on a knee transplant and, and just having general Asians. Conditions. And I, I thought there’s such a need for that because as a, and I’m not saying that personal training isn’t enough, but when you look at the pathology behind a condition like osteoarthritis, you need that training.

[00:06:36] And that’s what I got excited about because it helped me number one, and I improved my function and then I couldn’t. Help my clients and say, Hey, look at me or look at this is where you are, but this is where you can be and you can remain independent. And so I kinda it’s in the, between the rec therapy and [00:07:00] fitness.

[00:07:00] So I was able to use those skills too. So I liked that and I see a real need for it, especially with the baby boomer population. And COVID. Came in right after I got certified. So it kind of threw a loop in my, my plans, but it’s also created different opportunities too. 

[00:07:22] Dr. Joe Tanti: Right? Well, you’re not alone in terms of throwing a loop in your plans.

[00:07:26] I don’t think anyone was planning for it per se. How can you expect this to happen? Right. And also what I’ve noticed a lot is with some of my patients, especially as the baby boomer generation, for example, they, they have exactly what you’re talking about. They they’ve tried exercise and they find that if they.

[00:07:50] Exercise then they actually get more sore because they may have some type of arthritic or arthritic condition or a degenerative joint issues. Yeah. And [00:08:00] and they get really frustrated and they may look up some exercises on YouTube or. They do a spin class or an exercise bootcamp, or have you, and it’s just not the right exercise.

[00:08:12] It’s not the right fit for them because those people that are teaching these things, they’re great. But they, like you mentioned, don’t have that knowledge and understanding of what’s actually happening with those people in their body and with the joints. And it’s hard to Empathize as a 20 something year old with someone with whatsoever in their fifties or sixties or seventies or eighties or beyond is going through it just because you have no, none of that personal experience.

[00:08:42] And you obviously do have some of that you shared with us. So that kind of gives you a bit of a unique perspective. 

[00:08:48] Colleen Wagner: It does. And I have, my dad is 91. I work with him and I have a sister with multiple sclerosis. So that sort of geared my. Made my path flow a little bit and [00:09:00] sort of gave me some ideas along the way, like, you know, yes, this is affects everyone.

[00:09:08] Dr. Joe Tanti: Right? Absolutely. And oftentimes when we at least expect that things set us and it’s good to have those experts that we can rely on. What are some misconceptions that a lot of people have about medical exercise specialists people in your field. 

[00:09:27] Colleen Wagner: Well, I think it’s a lot of unknown yet. I guess they’re there.

[00:09:30] Oh, what’s a medical exercise specialist. Right? So, you know, with a personal trainer, like we talked about that it’s, it’s a one-year course or not even one year course, a weekend course. So you’re learning after. So I had to commit to this to, to show that I was getting the proper education behind me. So I think I’m really.

[00:09:53] Putting myself out there professionally to people like you to the medical community that [00:10:00] the recognized because I took this, it was an American based company. So bringing it into Canada and making the awareness of what we have to offer and how we’re different. I think it’s just they’re not aware and You know, people can get bed wraps with different fads that go on.

[00:10:25] I’ve been, believe me, I’ve done everyone. And and I’m not saying, like you said it perfectly, every exercise is right for someone, but then the long-term effects, they didn’t show up. So I think just teaching people what I have to offer and who I can help, who I am. What I do, which we talked about and how I can help them.

[00:10:50] People want to know what are you gonna do for me? Right. And so I think that’s the, I can spout off all my credentials, but [00:11:00] that’s what I’m learning. And this has been a big COVID is given me the chance to, to really dive deep into it. And kind of streamline it. Cause I could go in so many different directions with MetLife.

[00:11:14] So you kinda have to stay steady and not go like squirrely. Right? So you want to be what you want to accomplish, 

[00:11:24] Dr. Joe Tanti: right. So obviously you’d be, you could be able to help or you are able to help. Almost everyone essentially with your training and knowledge, but that’s kind of like chasing, you know, dust dust in the wind.

[00:11:38] It doesn’t work. So who would you say is you kind of talked about your you’re more targeted towards helping those people with those aging conditions to gentlemen? Disease arthritis multiple sclerosis again, these complex neurological or arthritic conditions people have in getting them through that and coming up with different strategies and tools.

[00:11:58] What are some different [00:12:00] tools and strategies that you employ with a lot of your clients to help them improve their quality of life? 

[00:12:09] Colleen Wagner: Yeah, well, we do a specific analysis, like posture analysis. And I always go back to what they’ve done in their lifetime and look at the body and say, okay, this is why you’re feeling this.

[00:12:22] And so I, I gear it specific to them and make them see it and feel it right. And really give them the tools, like meeting them where they are. Not letting them feel discouraged because when you lose function, it’s very disheartening and you want to give up, you lose independence, you you’ll lose your self worth.

[00:12:44] And, and just giving them that trust that this is going to take time. It’s not going to happen overnight. And just building that relationship, giving them the right exercises to start with. And I always tell them [00:13:00] start small. And a lot of the times they exercises they’ve already, maybe done in rehabilitation.

[00:13:07] And then I teach them a lot about prevention because I have a few pre joint replacement clients that are waiting. And I’m just like, if you give them encouragement, if you do these exercises, you are going to feel guaranteed. You’re going to feel different. If you don’t, then it’s going to be pain. And I teach them how to, you know, Manage pain as best as we can.

[00:13:33] And we want to try pain-free range of motion and not be who we were 20 years. And that’s just realizing where we’re at and where we need, how are we going to go? That’s basically it. So I, I do a lot of extra talking like this with them. I call them on both if they it’s a pretty open door policy and and really [00:14:00] build that connection.

[00:14:01] So they, they, I, my longest client right now is three years. She basically came and started with me when I opened up. And we’re like, friends, plus slash clients. So in building that a community too. 

[00:14:16] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. That’s yeah, that’s great. Cause fitness and a self-improvement that’s not just a one-time deal, right? We should always be trying to strive for gradually improving over our whole lifetime.

[00:14:30] And I, I like what you mentioned there, we’re not you, we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to how we were 20 or 30 years ago. Especially if you’re going through some type of a joint replacement in your hip or knee it’s obviously not going to be functioning like it did 20 years ago. What is, what would you say is one or two strategies or tools that people should, could use to help them improve their health and wellbeing [00:15:00] and their function?

[00:15:01] Something simple that they could do every day. 

[00:15:05] Colleen Wagner: I have a app that I use is called physiotec. And it gives them the, so I send them via computer, like I about it, or it’s through the medical exercise association. So I was able to spend money each month so I can just type in exercises for them to do over the weekend.

[00:15:28] And keep that communication going in between sessions giving them things like I have them test going up and down the stairs. To see if they’re improving. I tell them to look at the little things in life. Like, are you like for myself? I noticed since I worked on lower body function, I can go up and down the stairs without pain now.

[00:15:53] So think of those things that are going to make you stronger. And then I always tell them what makes it better. What makes it worse? [00:16:00] Look at those kinds of strategies and really a hundred percent listen to your body. So it’s pretty much verbal. I do like, I don’t give them a lot of papers and stuff, but I’ll I have a wellness your way.

[00:16:18] It’s like an accountability group on Facebook and I try and give them motivation posts and different updates. So I, I guess through social media, Give them little tidbits. And if, if I can’t help them, I’ll send them to the person that does. Cause I have one client, I said, okay, you need to go see the chiropractor.

[00:16:41] She knows. They all know now who they need to see at what time. Right. To build that solid plan. And it’s kind of neat that way that we build that system. 

[00:16:51] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. Yeah. Having that referral relationships obviously really important I find that we, everyone has kind of their unique [00:17:00] specialty or area of expertise.

[00:17:03] You can’t be everything to everyone. So having those relationships with other professionals that are experts in what it is that they do and being able to refer to them, I feel like is a, obviously a huge benefit to our patients with your. You’ve been at this a long time 30 plus years. You’ve obviously given a lot of advice to a lot of different people to help them reach their healthcare goals.

[00:17:31] What would you say is one of your, the best pieces of advice you’ve ever gotten? 

[00:17:38] Colleen Wagner: You know, be the best version of yourself, no matter what you’re going through in life, like through circumstances, like your circumstances, don’t define you because that can derail you. But right off the bat, when I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s, I went through a divorce, moved back to Edmonton, you know, different things and you’re recreating yourself.

[00:17:58] So you always look [00:18:00] within, I always tell them strengths from strong, from the inside out, and just do the best you, you can for the Mo where you’re at. It’s really about that whole wellness. It’s not just about, okay, how many pushups I can do or you know, we all want to do the activities that we like, that we want to still participate in and function older grandchildren, those kinds of things.

[00:18:32] So just, I think it’s just overall you realize your health is your, your wealth is your health is your greatest wealth. Is that it? And that’s what they, the baby boomers, they gave up their health. For their wealth. You know, and now they’re just like, they’ve got money to do things, but their body’s not letting them and always listen to your body.

[00:18:56] Dr. Joe Tanti: That’s great advice. I think I forget the quote, who it [00:19:00] was from. Exactly. But it goes something along what you’re just saying there, that people, they give up their health to make lots of money essentially. And their, their time and health for money. And then as they get older, they have lots of money, but they have no health and they spend all the time.

[00:19:17] On their health and it’s just kind of a perpetual cycle, but yeah. Yes, it’s an 

[00:19:22] Colleen Wagner: investment. That’s how you look. I try and tell people that because it is a lot of it can be a lot of money and I try and tell them that there’s options out way for reimbursement through health benefits, but it’s investing in you to give.

[00:19:39] Dr. Joe Tanti: So if someone were you mentioned benefits as well, your services are those covered through different insurance policy. 

[00:19:47] Colleen Wagner: Yeah. If you can label it as medical exercise, your doctor can prescribe give you an exercise prescription depending on where you’re at in your health. And then depending [00:20:00] on your insurance carrier, most of them, I haven’t had one come back that didn’t get reimbursed.

[00:20:05] So either there’s a health spending account wellness account. So there’s lots of different ways and I’m learning. Ways of doing that too, but if you label it as medical, you can get some form of reimbursement back, which is really. Really nice. Right. That’s 

[00:20:24] Dr. Joe Tanti: excellent. I know a lot of people have a that’s one issue that’s, you know, finances may be a little bit of a strain for some people and being able to kind of recoup that, like you said, it is an investment and I think it’s well worth it.

[00:20:38] If you want to be able to feel better and perform better and just be better with your health and wellness. And it’s, it’s well worth the investment, but that’s, that’s a good piece of information to know with all of your successes to date with your, your long history of helping people in the space.

[00:20:55] What would you say is your biggest struggle right now that you’re trying to overcome? [00:21:00] 

[00:21:00] Colleen Wagner: Well right now I feel really good as a person and in my business it’s, you know, get it. I’m not going to do the blame on COVID thing, but it’s just getting myself recognized and it’s not. It’s a struggle, but it’s just a process, right?

[00:21:18] Well yeah. Yeah. And it’s, I think our struggles turn into strengths or opportunities. I never imagined me teaching my functional movement classes online, and now I teach 11 classes a week. So I think it’s getting my biggest struggle would probably be getting it to be profitable, like as as permanent business.

[00:21:44] Just keeping it sufficient and just well known to the community. And yeah, I don’t, I feel pretty like we just did a promotional video. We just redid our website. So all of [00:22:00] the things I was struggling with, I just turned it around and created into time to improve it. Right. 

[00:22:09] Dr. Joe Tanti: Struggles or opportunities.

[00:22:10] Yeah. And it sounds like you’re overcoming those quite well. So that’s fantastic. What, what’s one way that people can reach out to you if they’re interested in a accessing your services or discussing with you or following you possibly where can they find you? 

[00:22:27] Colleen Wagner: I can handle my phone number are back on track.

[00:22:30] It’s all hyphenated. I can put it in the comments. So a website I did a new YouTube video and I had on Facebook with a wellness your way back on track as a Facebook page. So that piece that’s probably my struggle. Okay. Social media, the struggle, you know, piecing that all together. Right. And technology is not always my friend.

[00:22:58] That’s my age too. Okay. 

[00:22:59] Dr. Joe Tanti: [00:23:00] Well what’s the best number for that or email that they could reach you at if they want to 

[00:23:04] Colleen Wagner: (587) 988-8075 and then Dash it’s a weird and then YouTube does back on track, specialized exercise and wellness solutions. 

[00:23:27] Dr. Joe Tanti: Fantastic. Was there anything else that you’d like to share that I haven’t asked you today, Colleen?

[00:23:33] Colleen Wagner: Yeah, I’m just, I think there’s a real need in the community and with. Experiencing of social isolation, I’m really kind of shifting to go to people’s homes. COVID like, like with restrictions in that and, and following all the guidelines. So I’m looking for more opportunities to maybe do some rest [00:24:00] bites.

[00:24:00] Like I do with my sister. I go into the home and I take, and then I walk my dad. So. That’s another area that’s on looking at possibly just building that real community connection. I have it in my studio was in my, my home and I’m only allowed now one person at a time, which is fine, but I kind of see my vision going out because people are.

[00:24:28] And just helping them stay independent at home and healthy at home and getting through this challenging pandemic. So I think my services are very, the huge variety, but I’m trying, like you said, it kind of just goes like, woo. And then you have to bring them back, but I’d love to see people realize that exercises.

[00:24:55] To long-term management of your life, whether, because [00:25:00] we all are going to be faced with something one time or the other, right. 

[00:25:03] Dr. Joe Tanti: Absolutely. Well, I appreciate your time here, Colleen. 

[00:25:07] Colleen Wagner: Thank you so much for the opportunity. I really enjoyed it 

[00:25:10] Dr. Joe Tanti: and yeah, absolutely. And thank you everyone for watching or listening and we’ll talk to you next time.

[00:25:16] Colleen Wagner: Thanks Joseph.

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