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Meet Eric Johnson of Movement Revolution

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Johnson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Eric. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The path that led me to start Movement Revolution was a serendipitous one. I started my college career as a business major and played football for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as a 304 lbs. offensive lineman. I quickly learned two things, one, DIII college football would not take me to the NFL and two, I really didn’t enjoy my business classes. My parents are hardworking people in the healthcare industry. They always encouraged community service, to serve those in need or less fortunate. At the end of my sophomore year, I recognized my need for a career where I could devote myself to helping others. I’ve always enjoyed athletics and the intense training associated with it so I decided to change my major to Exercise Science and Health Promotion. I realized that it’d be quite hypocritical to be a 304lb advocate for health and wellness and within 1 year I lost 100lbs and was happily enrolled in my new courses.

I finished my last semester of school in 2009 as an intern at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (now the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab). This experience is what forged my career vision and passion for what I do today. I was then hired by RIC full-time. I thought it’d be a great stepping stone to gather practical experience while preparing for physical therapy school. I worked closely with many great physical therapists as we designed programs for people with Parkinson’s disease. My experience in the clinical world is actually turned me away from physical therapy even though it’s a very important and impactful career. Instead, I recognized that many individuals in physical therapy, particularly those with a disability or chronic condition, are only approved for a finite number of sessions before they are discharged. For those living with these conditions, it’s rarely enough. From that point on, I knew I wanted to stay in an exercise setting as an Exercise Physiologist to grow the awareness and availability of specialized exercise programs for people post diagnosis/injury.

In 2013, I started Movement Revolution while noticing a huge need for specialized exercise services for those homebound or living outside the Chicagoland area. Often, those living with chronic conditions and disabilities don’t know how or simply don’t know they can still exercise after their diagnosis, it can assuredly be a daunting idea. The truth is, the more you move, the better you move, in most cases. I named my company Movement Revolution because I wanted to revolutionize the health and wellness industry by making exercise accessible through specialized programs, staff, and education.

I initially started offering personal training sessions in people’s homes throughout Chicago until I opened my studio space in Streeterville. I started to receive requests for me to see people in the Northern suburbs of Chicago. The requests became more frequent and quickly grew into a need. I then started to split my time between the Northshore and Downtown. In 2015, I was working with a client who has Parkinson’s disease and he asked me, “Eric, what’s your dream, what do you really want to do with Movement Revolution?” I explained my dream of opening my own state-of-the-art fitness center designed specifically for people with neurological conditions. In 2016, we opened the doors to our first Neuro Intensive Training Center in Deerfield, IL.

We now have two locations: the Neuro Intensive Training Studio in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago and the Neuro Intensive Training Center in Deerfield, IL. We still see many in-home clients throughout the City of Chicago, as well as, Chicago’s Northshore, West, and Northwest suburbs. I have an amazing staff of Exercise Physiologists working with me to carry out the mission of Movement Revolution.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has been relatively smooth but no doubt has its challenges. The biggest challenge we encountered is educating the community and healthcare professionals that extended services and expertise such as ours exists. They’re many personal trainers and exercise professionals out there and we are setting ourselves apart. I like to point out a very relevant example. When someone has been diagnosed with cancer, do you see your internist for your cancer treatment, or do you see a cancer specialist? If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, should you see a general neurologist or a movement disorder specialist? This specialization is equally as important with your trainer or exercise physiologist. Our staff of Exercise Physiologists have extensive education and are neuro exercise specialists. That’s the differentiating factor and one that we need to continue to educate people on. We do exist!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Movement Revolution – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Movement Revolution is a medical fitness company that specializes in personal training and group exercise for people with neurological conditions and other chronic diseases and disabilities. Movement Revolution bridges the gap between clinical rehabilitation and exercise. Our team of Exercise Physiologists are experts in adaptive exercise, all holding advanced degrees and certifications in special populations.

The mission of the Movement Revolution is to foster hope and invigorate life through exercise for people with neurological conditions and other physical disabilities. Our programs restore ability, create advocacy, and empower the lives of our clients. Our expert team of Exercise Physiologists put research into action and bridge the gap, completing the continuum of care from clinical rehabilitation, into community based exercise.

We specialize in exercise for neurological conditions such as (but not limited to) Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, balance, and fall risk/prevention. Our differentiating factor is our specialty as a neuro exercise facility with a staff of specialized Exercise Physiologists and state-of-the-art Neuro Intensive Training Centers.

The Neuro Intensive Training Centers (NITC) are unique and inspiring exercise facilities dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with neurological conditions. The NITC provides an exercise environment unlike any other of its kind, fulfilling the need for specific, regular, and intensive exercise for people at all stages of the disease with the resources to keep them active with meaningful exercise throughout their life. The NITC is equipped with machines and devices that eliminating barriers such as accessibility and fear of falling. We have tools that can objectively assess and track gait, balance, and strength.

We offer symptom specific personal training, small group, and large group exercise classes. Group classes include:

– Rock Steady Boxing Windy City for Parkinson’s disease
– PWR! (Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery)
– Vim & Vigor – an adapted spin class inclusive of diagnosis
– Spin for Parkinson’s disease
– Small group strength for stroke coming soon!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Unfortunately, more and more people are being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and like conditions every day. The baby boomers are starting to approach the age where these diagnoses and conditions appear which is increasing the need for us to grow our reach and expand our services to more people.

We are currently exploring a “TechEx” program that would bring our services to people throughout the country via online classes and 1:1 training sessions. Telemedicine programs are on the rise and we want to provide a similar service.

Movement Revolution is looking to fill the need for our services and additional locations throughout Chicago.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Eric Johnson, Executive Director, Exercise Physiologist
Trent Thenhaus, Downtown Manager, Exercise Physiologist
Laura Slowey, Community Coordinator, Rock Steady Boxing Coach
Daisy Murillo, Exercise Physiologist
Andy Castro, Exercise Physiologist

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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