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[Wellbeing]: The Clinic

High-end physical therapy, personal training, and wellness coaching, one block away from the Yongkang slums.
2015-06-09 19:10:18
Just around the corner from the Yongkang Lu bar strip, the rustic, industrial–chic waiting room of the clinic makes a statement: "We're trendy, high-end, and legit." Self-proclaimed as "Asia's first boutique concierge medical wellness center", they deal in high-end physical therapy, sports medicine, and wellness programs -- both Western and Eastern -- for pro athletes, wealthy expats and locals, and people with great insurance. And though they have a gym and yoga studio for group classes, they'll tell you that they are not a gym or a yoga studio. We went down to see what's up.

Some Background...

Eric Yue, the Spanish founder and physical therapist and his partners Alex Prieto (also Spanish Osteopath) and Joyce Shen (Physical Therapist) work hand in hand. Yue got his bachelor's, master's, and postdegrees in Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Manual Therapy and Osteopathy in Spain, and worked at SinoUnited Health and Shanghai United Family Hospital while in China prior to their venture. Prieto also received his osteopathy degrees in Spain, and worked at Klinoerth, in addition to providing osteopathy and sports therapy at other private clinics in Shanghai like the American Medical Center, whose clients include Shanghai Sharks players. Joyce is a local physical therapist who has worked in the prestigious Sports Medicine Department of Huashan Hospital and also SinoUnited Health.

So, a team who understand their target demographic in Asia -- "expats and high-end Chinese", according to Yue. They want to give the world “conservative, comprehensive medical and wellness treatments." Sometimes, long strings of buzzwords end up sounding like nothing, so let's break that down.

Conservative Care: This terms may deter some in the Western medical world, with images of herbs with magical, medicinal properties. Here, this means they don't prescribe medicine. They treat injuries with mostly physical therapy (PT) for long term care, not by prescribing pills for sore joints. However, they do have a consulting traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor on-site, so they may also suggest acupuncture as a complementary treatment.

Comprehensive: All of the doctors you might need for long-term injury recover or post-surgery treatment are in-house. So, besides the aforementioned TCM doctor, they have another physical therapist, a clinical psychologist, a meditation instructor ("blessed with the direct teachings of high spiritual masters from South East Asia and South America…"), a nutrition consultant (Master's candidate), a strength & conditioning trainer, yoga teachers, and a "Pilates Polestar Master".

Wellness: the clinic's version of this nebulous term involves treatments based on medical and scientific research. They say wellness involves psychological and spiritual health, but is not complete without medical treatment.

The "VIP" waiting room

Who's Going And Why?

Most clients are there for long–term, post-surgery or injury treatment, especially for sports and spine. Others are just there to get in shape with personal training and weight loss programs. A small percentage of their clients are professional athletes -- Olympians, tennis pros, Shenhua players, and marathon runners. They use these examples as a not-so-humble brag, and a way to say, hey, everyone should have the treatment these athletes do. Because us normal-trons also need help getting into "performance shape", managing our weight, and reaching a higher spiritual level.

Treatment here is all customized. Clients first have a consultation to discuss injuries or personal goals. Then the therapists recommend practitioners to work with. The normal price for this first consultation is 1800rmb, but more on pricing later. Then they create a program or book successive appointments with the necessary doctors for long term treatment or training. Unfortunately, they do not offer memberships for people who just want to use the gym and work out there. But offer the possibility to buy class passes (5,10 and 20) for their 300 Spartan HIIT program and Anatomy of Arts yoga and Pilates studio.

The Clinic has been open for six months and are already pretty full with bookings from clients they poached from their previous clinics, but they're opening up group classes as a way to bring the "wellness community" together. The example they gave was a recent weekend yoga class for Lululemon. That's the super bougie Canadian brand that has a showroom in Xintiandi. They're known worldwide for girls doing yoga in their store windows. They've fully outfitted The Clinic's yoga studio. Which brings us to...

Programs On Offer

Down the line, yoga teachers will be giving certification courses, they explain. The clinic wants pilates and yoga to be used more as medical therapy, and they they will start offering classes starting from 300rmb a pop.

They also offer a weight management program and the "Pro Series Performance Program." You're paying for personal training and nutrition consulting based on your lifestyle. The trainer is there to provide motivation, and with all the services together, the program is like a life coach. Again, they want long term progress and change, not boot camp.

Why So Fancy?

They get to claim they're "Asia's first PM2.5 clean medical and wellness center," with a central filtering system. Same goes for the water -- you can drink what comes out of the shower head. All of the locker room products are from eco & more. Juice, kombucha, and soups are by Favorite Squeeze, and there's free espresso in the lobby.

Pricing & Insurance

As mentioned above, the first consultation with the necessary doctors is 1800rmb. Each consecutive appointment is set at 1500rmb. This is the standard pricing, but services like nutrition or TCM might be cheaper. They can also create a package price for you if you see a variety of doctors.

The Weight Management Program is set at 15000rmb. That includes 24 personal training sessions, two nutrition consultations, and five yoga classes with free support for injury evaluation. The Pro Series Performance Program, for personal fitness training, starts at 6999rmb for 12 sessions and goes up to 17999rmb for 36 sessions. Those who sign up with a partner can get discounts.

For insurance, they just set up the paperwork for reimbursement. Soon they'll have direct billing action with a few major insurance companies. They also have their own, in-house insurance available.

Pro-bono cases -- they take on a few each month. These clients can help out later by volunteering, or doing some marketing and helping out at events. They study each case thoroughly before accepting. If an expat has an acute case, complains about being poor, but is seen "on Yongkang Lu trashed every night," they wouldn't be considered in a position of need.

The future looks bright for The Clinic. Some expats we know claim Alex is one of the best therapists they've met anywhere, and would pay any sum for his treatment. And the confidence shows -- according to Eric Yue, "Everybody knows about United Family and Parkway. Now, we are the new competitors in town for Physical Medicine, Physical Therapy and Wellness."