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Written By

Tianna Killoran


College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

24 February 2022

From buddies to business owners

JCU Alumni Joel Newman, Max Tink and Jason Di Betta are three mates who studied a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology (Clinical) as Townsville locals. Following graduation, each dreamt of how they would one day operate their own clinic. Amidst the lockdowns of 2021, they decided to team up and make the jump together.

“We’ve all known each other for a while and we all individually wanted the opportunity to run and manage our own clinic one day,” Joel says. “But during COVID lockdowns in 2021, the idea popped up that maybe we could all work together to build a business. So, we started on the path and began sharing ideas and brainstorming. It started to look like it could work for us.”

Opening in August 2021, the team are now running one of the newest exercise physiology clinics in Townsville: Empower Health NQ. Joel says the road to establishing their own business has been well worth the sweat.

Joel and the team worked hard to have everything ready before they opened up the clinic, from acquiring the lease and arranging finances to fitting out the clinic and making sure it was well-presented for clients. “It was challenging at the time, but it’s worked out really well. We spent a fair bit of time putting together our ideas and then coming up with plans to make sure we were prepared,” Joel says.

“You don’t fully appreciate how much work goes into setting up a business until you take that step. It’s been so rewarding seeing the product of what we built and the support we’ve received from clients, family, and friends has been great.”

Building Empower Health NQ’s reputation in the Townsville community and demonstrating their core values was first off the mark. “Our purpose is to deliver exercise-based therapy, but we want to also share our values and our unique way of doing things. That means practicing honesty, empathy, respect, and trust in everything we do,” Joel says.

“We want to always be honest with the client that walks in the door. We show them empathy and respect. In return, we hope that our clients will trust us and trust that we’re always going to do the right thing by them,” he says. “Even if that means referring them on to another health professional that’s going to be better suited to their needs, then that’s what we will do for them.”

Overall, Joel says the team hopes to empower healthier lives. “Really anyone can benefit from exercise physiology and doing exercise in some form. It’s our responsibility to come up with the most suitable programs so that we can produce healthier outcomes for all of our clients.”

The team at Empower Health NQ (left to right): Max Tink, Jason Di Betta and Joel Newman.

Supplied by: Joel Newman.

Taking steps to empower communities

Joel says Empower Health NQ supports a variety of clients, with a particular passion for sharing the value of exercise therapy with the general population. Joel, Jason and Max want to show that exercise physiology is not just for athletes or sporting teams.

Joel says his university degree opened his eyes to the variety of work that exercise physiologists do. “I grew up with a really sporty background and unfortunately there were always times where I had injuries and needed to see an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist. Working with them to manage my injuries really got me interested in the rehabilitation pathways,” Joel says.

“But as I studied at university and started to learn a little more about rehabilitation, I learnt that it wasn’t just all sports and working with athletes and sports teams.

“It really changed my views on myself as an exercise professional. If anything, I developed more of a passion for working with general population groups rather than just sports teams,” he says.

Now with Empower Health NQ almost in its sixth month of operation, Joel says such variety in clients brings an enjoyable challenge to his day. “We’re really fortunate that we have such a range of clientele that we work with.

“We work with a lot of veterans and support those with musculoskeletal injuries, as well as mental health and PTSD. We’ve also partnered with community organisations such as The Oasis Townsville.

“We also do a lot of pre- and post-surgery orthopaedic rehabilitation; for example, if someone is getting a knee or hip replacement, we can help them pre-surgery to get them as strong as possible and then do post-surgery management to help get that person back on their feet.”

The team also works with people in aged care, helping them to build functional movement and independence with daily activities. “We facilitate a lot of home visits with aged care where we go to the patient’s house and offer our services there,” Joel says. “We really try hard to support them with physical activity so they can become more functional and spend more time independently in their homes rather than potentially regressing and needing to look at going to a nursing home."

“I really enjoy having the diversity of patients in my day because it means that every time I see a new client, my brain has to switch over to another type of thinking. In a single morning I can see a variety of patients who need very different care. It really keeps me on my toes and thinking differently all the time.”

JCU Alumni Joel Newman

A person with a leg brace on is laying on their back on a yoga mat with their right foot on a yoga ball that someone else is holding steady.
The legs of a lady wearing cream pants and balancing on one leg while holding onto a black chair with a small exercise ball and resistance band on it.

Keeping the ball rolling

Since opening, Empower Health NQ has already grown their team, adding a receptionist and hiring a graduate exercise physiologist. Joel says they’re excited for what 2022 will bring. “Our new exercise physiologist is a recent JCU graduate. He’s young, he’s keen, and he’s eager to learn, so we’re really excited to have someone new in the clinic who can just soak up all the knowledge we have to offer him.

“We’re really fortunate to have been able to expand the team so quickly,” Joel says. “We’re really hopeful to keep the ball rolling and hopefully have a few more exercise physiologists in the next year.”

With time, a larger team of exercise physiologists will help Empower Health NQ offer more outreach services to rural and regional areas of Queensland, such as the Burdekin. “One of our big goals is for us to offer our services in areas that might need it or not have as much access. That's one of the things we’ll be looking to do in the future.

“But at the moment, we’re just trying to get through this COVID period and to land on both feet. We’ve adjusted our working schedules across the team to minimise close contacts and the impact on our clients.”

Although there can be challenges when it comes to working with people over Zoom and telehealth, Joel says they’ve been able to find the right balance. “We just adjust our techniques when working with clients over Zoom. It’s been a learning curve for everyone, but we’ve been getting there.”

Joel says he, Max and Jason are really grateful for their clients and the community’s support since they’ve opened. “We want to empower people to live healthier lives,” Joel says. “So, if we can get in amongst the community and help promote healthy living, I suppose we will feel like we’ve lived up to the business name, Empower Health.

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Learn how to empower individuals with exercise physiology and create healthier communities throughout regional, rural and remote Australia.