“Movement is key.” With Dr. William Seeds & Maggie Bergeron

I believe our health, both mental and physical, is our most important commodity. Without your health, you don’t have anything. I’m passionate about helping others improve their health and achieve the best possible quality of life. As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie Bergeron, […]

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I believe our health, both mental and physical, is our most important commodity. Without your health, you don’t have anything. I’m passionate about helping others improve their health and achieve the best possible quality of life.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie Bergeron, the co-founder of Embodia Academy, community director of TechTO Health, and the owner of The Yellow Room, a wholistic, mindfulness-based physiotherapy practice that operates out of the Toronto Community Acupuncture Clinic. Maggie co-founded Embodia in 2014 to modernize the patient experience and to provide a simple, easy way to take continuing education courses to all physiotherapists and rehabilitation practitioners, regardless of their location, budget or area of practice. She is also the host of TechTO Health — a health technology event that brings together 200 health tech enthusiasts bi-monthly to network, learn, and collaborate. She has been an invited speaker at Universities, technology symposiums and healthcare conferences across Canada. Maggie currently serves as a mentor, placement host and holds a Status-Only Appointment (lecturer ranking) with the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

While working as a physiotherapist, I noticed the traditional approach to physiotherapy and rehabilitation had a high reliance on the practitioner and a lack of follow-through from patients on their rehabilitation plans in between sessions. You might recall visiting a physiotherapy clinic for care and leaving with a printed handout of the various exercises you were meant to complete at home. This model of care is highly outdated, and I wanted to create a platform to ensure exercise compliance and help practitioners stay up to speed on the latest information and education. I created Embodia Academy to serve the rehabilitation market and engage physiotherapists in online continuing education courses to keep up-to-date with research, knowledge, and techniques, and engage their patients between sessions with a digital home exercise app. Patients can access, view, and track their home exercise programs, relevant educational content, and standardized outcome measures, to help them play an active role in their care. Embodia is a growing community of 205 international continuing education instructors, 12,000+ physiotherapists, and over 20,000 patients.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

The realization that companies don’t arise fully formed out of an innovator’s head — and that the story of a company is fraught with revisions and failures. Learning to embrace the process of iteration and to continuously gather client feedback (even when the feedback is critical) plays a key role in the evolution of the company. After we started Embodia (originally called healthSwapp), many potential clients had a hard time spelling our business name, which led to lost business. We had to go back to the drawing board and leverage professional help to rebrand our company. Embracing the process of iteration and revision led us to develop, building and growing a startup from 1 to over 12,000 healthcare practitioners.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was first starting out, the company was bootstrapped — we simply didn’t have the funds to hire the necessary resources. That meant that in the beginning, my role included CEO, sales, marketing, business development, and video editing. Video editing was in fact the most challenging — and because the video is such a core part of our business, I was determined to master it. However, I quickly realized that in order to produce high-quality content for our clients, it was necessary to hire externally. At the time, we could only afford to hire students and co-ops and were hesitant based on their level of experience. However, many of our hires were great additions to our team, and in fact, one of them is still our full-time video editor. This experience taught me that it’s important to be resourceful, especially when you have a start-up with little funding.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When we first started the business, I was introduced to Catherine Graham through the Futurepreneur program. Catherine has owned several businesses and serves as a mentor for female tech entrepreneurs. Catherine has supported us throughout our journey, especially when we were first starting out (and were truly in the infancy stages of our business), she graciously volunteered her time on multiple occasions to attend meetings with us and provide invaluable feedback and advice. She’s been my mentor for over five years now, and I am incredibly grateful for her support and guidance.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

In the United States alone, persistent pain syndrome costs 565 billion dollars — which is more than cancer, diabetes and heart disease. This persistent or chronic pain can be debilitating and drastically affects a person’s quality of life. If you think about today’s society, people are generally very stressed, underslept and overworked, and this contributes to a lack of exercise and a poor diet. These lifestyle trends are significant contributing factors to many key health issues, including musculoskeletal pain.

Physiotherapists and rehab professionals have an important role to play and their knowledge of current pain science is critical to patient care. It’s also important for patients to play an active role in their rehabilitation and feel empowered to take control of their own health. I firmly believe that by providing high-quality online continuing education to healthcare providers and supportive digital tools that can be prescribed to patients, we can improve both healthcare system efficiency and patient outcomes.

Can you share your top five“lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

1. Movement is key and moving your body should be as commonplace as brushing your teeth every day. Simple movements and exercises can help maintain musculoskeletal health and can be done throughout the workday.

2. Take control of your health. Patients play a key role in their healthcare journey, and it’s important to empower them with the confidence and tools to promote recovery. For example, using a digital app like Embodia allows patients to understand their role in recovery and provides further education about their condition to help improve outcomes.

3. Get enough sleep. I can’t stress this enough, getting enough sleep and having good sleep hygiene is critical to your health. There are lots of easy ways to improve sleep hygiene, such as having a familiar routine before going to bed, taking the time to wind down and disconnect and removing electronic devices out of your bedroom.

4. Take breaks (especially from your computer!). Most people spend much of their time working on a screen, which strains eyes and posture. Taking short breaks away from your screen throughout the day can make a big difference. When possible, take a break away from your screen every hour.

5. Monitor your breathing. Deep divematic breath (also known as belly breaths — breathing from your stomach, and not your chest) triggers increased activity in the nervous system which promotes relaxation, massages organs, and muscles and improves core function. Find some time every hour to take 10 deep breathes.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I believe personalized rehabilitation programs would significantly help improve health and wellness. This easy to follow program provides different movements and exercises that are easily completed every day. Each exercise and movement would be specific to the individual, to help address past injuries, specific spots where someone might hold tension, to help prevent injuries and promote overall health.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Your 9 to 5 will quickly become 5 to 9. You will have long hours, there’s no way to avoid it.

Understand your “why”. The what and the how of your business will come, and so will difficult times if you don’t know what your “why” is.

Starting your business isn’t easy. One day you’re on top of the world, the next day the world is on top of you. Learn to ride the rollercoaster and don’t get too attached to the highs and lows.

Don’t let work take over your life. Make sure to have other passion projects or outlets outside of work that you enjoy.

Your friends and family have no idea what you do all day, and your significant other will learn how to watch Netflix by themselves. But it’s important to have a support network even if they don’t truly understand the ins and outs of your business.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

I believe our health, both mental and physical, is our most important commodity. Without your health, you don’t have anything. I’m passionate about helping others improve their health and achieve the best possible quality of life.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Linkedin —

Instagram — @maggiebpt, @embodia

Twitter — @maggiebpt, @joinembodia

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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