Creating Inclusive Wellness with Spanish Language Classes and HEALTHEFIT

Earlier this year, Burnalong put out a call for wellness content in Spanish to serve the wellness needs of Spanish speakers on the Burnalong platform. David Rachal III and his team at HEALTH-E-FIT rose to our call and produced an engaging series of FIREDRILLs for Spanish-speakers with their Medical Fitness experts. 

Their Burnalong classes offer progressive modules that encourage our members to grow each week, building on their work from the weeks prior, to progress to increased strength, agility, and mobility. Most notably, however, their commitment to creating inclusive content resonated with Burnalong’s shared commitment to meeting everyone wherever they are in their wellness journeys with relatable content (ideally in their first spoken language). 

We sat down with David, recently, to learn more about HEALTH-E-FIT’s work, mission, and a little about his own background. Let’s jump in.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your expertise/credentials and background. 

My name is David Rachal III and I’m the Founder/CEO of HEALTH-E-FIT. For undergrad, I studied Recreational Therapy, and later I received my MBA in Healthcare. I’m committed to engage, educate, and empower clients by understanding their medical and health conditions to set them up for success. 

I have advanced certifications as a Medical Exercise Specialist (MES) and the Exercise is Medicine – Credential (EIM). Given my background, I’ve developed programs that are used to train the United States Marines at Quantico and some that are specifically for individuals living with chronic conditions. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the Virginia Leadership Board for the American Diabetes Association, Exercise Is Medicine Underserved & Community Board, and the Hampton University Gerontology Advisory Board.

My company, HEALTH-E-FIT, was the first credentialed in-network provider of medical fitness services with the ability of direct health insurance reimbursement. Since 2017, I’ve been working with physicians that refer my medical fitness treatment plans to their patients. Together, we work to improve health outcomes for patients, lower costs for payers, and increase career opportunities for today’s evolving medical fitness professionals. This work led to my acknowledgment as the very first MedFit Professional of the Year in 2019 by the Medical Fitness Network.

The Medical Fitness Practitioners at HEALTH-E-FIT are medically trained to create outpatient treatment programs for individuals battling cardiovascular, metabolic, and/or pulmonary diseases. Our proprietary medical fitness methods are 100% evidence-based and validated through various universities, including Harvard University and Stanford University. 

Q: What makes HEALTH-E-FIT unique?

HEALTH-E-FIT is the first Medical Fitness organization to establish a contractual relationship with health insurance to make medical fitness a covered service. Now that we have made Medical Fitness a healthcare service provided by Medical Fitness Practitioners (healthcare providers), patients can speak with their health insurance to see if they will cover this service. 

Further, we have raised the bar and created a standard of practice as a new career choice for well-qualified health/fitness professionals. With access to health insurance reimbursement, employer spending accounts, and healthcare financing, we have made it easier for patients and providers to integrate Medical Fitness into their care plans while increasing the demand for medically trained fitness professionals.

Additionally, we were one of the first groups of instructors to start producing medical fitness content in both English and Spanish. 

Q: Have you always produced content in both Spanish and English? What led you to create content in Spanish?

We began creating content for Spanish and English during the summer of 2020 after noticing the huge gap in accessibility for Spanish-speaking Americans. It’s worth noting that 43 million Americans speak Spanish as their first language with nearly 12 million bilingual Spanish speakers. Spanish-speaking Americans outnumber African Americans now so we thought it a disservice to not address this important fact with the content we were creating. 

Inclusion has always been a goal of mine ever since elementary school. We had a kid from Honduras join our class a few weeks after school started. In 1986, at the age of 10, Roberto was the first Hispanic person that I had ever met. You see, the Hispanic community wasn’t really represented in my hometown of Natchitoches, LA. 

He was “different” and a few kids in the class made sure it was known. I felt sympathy for him as I felt the same way being the only black male in my honors classes. Roberto was smart and enjoyed Garfield comics just like me. We discovered that we were more alike than different and became great friends. 

Since then, I’ve made it a priority to create opportunities for inclusion. This sense of inclusion has served as an inspiration to step outside of my comfort zone and work with Spanish-speaking clients while using technology (e.g. Google Translate) to bridge the communication gaps. I’ve found it to be very rewarding to receive gratitude from individuals that didn’t know we made accommodations to meet their needs.

Q: Why is creating medical fitness content in Spanish important? 

The United States has the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Combine this statistic with the fact that Mexican Americans are about 50% more likely to die from diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, we think that it’s important to create Medical Fitness programming to leave no Americans behind. 

In establishing HEALTH-E-FIT’s credibility and inclusion standardization during the credentialing process with health insurance, I made sure my company was adequately educated and trained on cultural competency. I wanted to set a high bar for the Medical Fitness industry and demonstrate that we are ready to become a part of value-based healthcare for all. 

We used Think Cultural Health (https://thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov/) for our training to successfully pass the Cultural Competency Quiz. Launched in 2004, Think Cultural Health is sponsored by the Office of Minority Health. Their website features continuing education opportunities, resources, and more for wellness and healthcare professionals to learn about culturally and linguistically appropriate services, or CLAS. 

Q: Who is your ideal client base? 

Our ideal client base is individuals who have been diagnosed or are at risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These individuals can benefit greatly from our FIREDRILL exercise program and reduce their chances of developing these diseases when combined with healthy habits. 

Q: Where do you see opportunities for more inclusion of Medical Fitness in the wellness space?

Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners are particularly interested in Medical Fitness for their patients right now. Because our services are considered to be a part of healthcare, they take the time to learn about what we do and refer patients to Credentialed Medical Fitness Practitioners. 

Even colleges and universities are recognizing the opportunities and are reviewing their curriculum for exercise science/physiology to include a Medical Fitness approach to patient care. Last, but not least, health insurance companies see the benefit of medical fitness and are now open to covering these services to increase patient outcomes and decrease costs.

Creating Inclusive Wellness Content

Burnalong is grateful for the work that David and HEALTH-E-FIT are doing and the expert wellness content they’ve added to Burnalong. Their empathetic approach and commitment to inclusivity spur others on to act in kind. If you are a wellness instructor who can provide content in Spanish, we would welcome the chance to partner with you. Introduce yourself here so we can learn more about you. 

If you, or a colleague, would benefit from Spanish instructions on setting up your Burnalong account and accessing Spanish classes on the platform, please refer to the instructions below:

  1. Inicie sesión en su cuenta de Burnalong a través de la página de registro de su organización o registre su cuenta aquí: https://well.Burnalong.com/register. Si no está seguro de que su empleador ofrezca el servicio de Burnalong, comuníquese con su Director de Recursos Humanos.
  2. Una vez en su cuenta de Burnalong, vaya a la barra de búsqueda en la parte superior derecha de la ventana.
  3. Escriba “Spanish” o “Español” para ver solo las clases en español.

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