Certified STOTT PILATES® Rehabilitation Instructor, MSc PT
Damian Wyard’s background in physiotherapy is as extensive as it is varied. He has over 20 years of experience as a Pilates Instructor, has spent three years using his background in sports massage touring with Riverdance as the company massage therapist, treated fractures and joint surgeries in the outpatient clinic of Toronto East General Hospital, and worked as a clinical director of a busy, multidisciplinary physiotherapy practice.
Damian is now the founder of Pilates4Physio, a bustling clinic in Toronto, where he uses a combination of his STOTT PILATES Rehab and physiotherapy skills to treat a variety of conditions and injuries.
But taking the leap into running his own business didn’t happen overnight. Here is how he did it.
While working at a large national chain physiotherapy clinic, Damian saw a typical physio model in private clinics that he experienced as lacking. Clients were repeatedly given the same standard exercises, machines and electrical modalities were overused, and support personnel often had only a very basic knowledge of exercise. “Physiotherapy has to be better than THIS,” he thought to himself. He quit his job, and decided to enroll in a STOTT PILATES® Rehab course to augment his own Pilates training. He trained with Rehab Master IT Wayne Seeto, and completed RMR1 and 2 and RCCB1 and 2.
Damian’s next step was finding a place to implement his updated knowledge base and extensive skill set. He approached a Pilates studio in downtown Toronto and asked about adding a Physio-Pilates model. The timing was auspicious—the studio staff had recently had a meeting about adding a Rehab element to the studio. Soon Damian was working with clients and patients one-on-one out of a semi-private space within the studio, combining manual therapy and Pilates exercises. Instructors in the studio would refer clients to him if they felt they needed more Rehab-focused one-on-one sessions, and he was also drawing in clients looking for an alternative to traditional physio for a specific issue.
The studio had established some essential-level classes for clients to move into once Damian felt they were ready, in order to prepare them for more demanding classes. Damian also became a valued resource for other Pilates Instructors who would ask for advice on particular clients. He also served as an in-house Rehab time-out for clients who needed individual attention for a short period of time before returning to their regular Instructors and classes. Damian stayed for two years as he built up his Physio-Pilates practice.
“The integration of Pilates and Rehab is really an art as much as a science…”
On February 1st, 2016, Damian officially opened Pilates4Physio. He predicts it will take roughly six months to one year to build up his business, and one of the most challenging things for him is learning how to market his business and services. Once again, Damian decided to upgrade his skills through courses—he is currently taking Camp Tech classes to learn how to set up and effectively run his website and blog. In the meantime, he continues to get referrals from Pilates Instructors who send clients in an acute stage of injury, and is establishing relationships with other Pilates studios in the city to get referrals for clients, as well as to send clients to after they have moved into the post-rehab stage of recovery. In the future, he plans to introduce Instructor Training courses at his studio clinic and expand his staff to include Rehab and Pilates Instructors.
Damian recommends clients do one hour sessions, rather than the industry standard of 20–30 minute sessions, allowing the clients to learn correct movement patterns and also receive adequate manual therapy. He is able to provide a receipt for physiotherapy which clients can submit if they have insurance. At Pilates4Physio, his sessions are all one-on-one and customized for each client. He uses a V2 Max Plus™, Split-Pedal Stability Chair™, Mat Converter, and a range of smaller props, including Stability Ball™, Balance Pads, Rotational Diskboard™, Foam Roller™ and BOSU® PRO Balance Trainer. Adding Pilates to his practice has allowed him to become more creative with his clients, Damian says, and he is less constrained in treatment options. “The integration of Pilates and Rehab is really an art as much as a science,” he says. “You have to be able to adapt to what the client needs that day, or during that period in time.”
*Images courtesy of Damian Wyard and Sundari Photography Inc.