S.A.F.E Assessment at ExercisAbilities

ExercisAbilities is all about helping you stay healthy and fit in a safe manner adjusted to your level of ability. Afterall, what’s safe for someone recovering from a stroke is quite different from what’s safe for someone recovery from a traumatic brain injury! That’s why we’ve developed an assessment tool to match you to the fitness programs that are best suited for your level of physical and cognitive ability.

Physical Therapy at ExercisAbilities

First Things First — Physical and Cognitive Ability Assessment

One of the first things we do with each client is called the S.A.F.E Assessment. Our trained staff will meet with each new client and utilize our S.A.F.E. Assessment tool to determine your physical and cognitive abilities.  This information is used to determine which level of classes and care are best suited to your specific needs. Staff will then direct you to the correct programs for your ability level. The program will be:

S = Safe

A = Active

F = Fun

E = Effective

Or as we say, S.A.F.E!

Staff will determine what activities and care are best suited to be effective for your long-term care.  Some of the stuff you need to do to stay fit and healthy isn’t really fun. It’s sometimes rather painful, isn’t it? We know this is true and so our staff tries to make things as fun as we can for you so you’ll enjoy your program.

S.A.F.E Assessment Levels

After your one-on-one S.A.F.E Assessment, staff will assign you to one of four different ability levels. You may start in one level but progress to a different level over time.

LEVEL 1 – Needs assistance of up to 2 people to get on and off equipment safely. Needs assistance for the entire session for safety with balance, strength or cognition. Cannot participate safely in open gym or any group sessions. Requires one-on-one assistance at all times for safety and effectiveness of session.

LEVEL 2 – Needs assistance of one person to get on and off equipment. Cannot follow instructions or speed of large group class, needs modifications. Can participate safely in a 1 Staff/4 client ratio or 1 staff/2 client class ratio. Is okay on equipment if there is a staff or supervisor in the immediate area.

LEVEL 3 – May use a walker or need supervision with transferring on and off equipment. Okay to be alone on equipment. May need modification in large group class such as a chair. Can follow instructions in large group.

OPEN Level – No assistance required. Safe to exercise alone with normal large group exercise program participation.

Medical Fitness for Everyone!

 Our SAFE Assessment Tool allows us to have safe fitness programs for everyone, at every ability level. A client who is mobile and wanting help managing their pre-diabetes is likely going to be assessed the OPEN Level and enrolled in our LEARN TO BE FIT Exercise and Diet Program. However, we can also serve a client who has almost no mobility, LEVEL 1, with our adaptive equipment and customized fitness sessions.

Whatever your needs, whatever your ability, ExercisAbilities will help you prepare to improve your health and fitness.

Call us at 507-259-7570 or stop by our offices at 2530 N. Broadway in Rochester MN to schedule your own SAFE Assessment.


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A Letter from Our Founder – Dr. Melanie Brennan

A letter from Melanie – I am filled with hope!

Happy New Year 2018!

2017 was a great year!  We had so many wonderful achievements: A move into our beautiful and spacious new building, growing programs such as our Diabetes Prevention Nutrition and Exercise Program, Healthy Lifestyles Corporate Group Wellness Education Program, the addition of a full occupational therapy and hand therapy practice, Our first Run, Walk, Roll at Ironwood Springs, new office, exercise, and physical therapy staff, initiation of our Forever Strong lifelong exercise therapy and independent living skills program, and so much more.   Throughout the year, physical therapy, Parkinson Wellness and Recovery (PWR!), and our ABILITY neurologic recovery programs, and Rock for Recovery Fundraising GALA also continue to thrive and grow.  We added 7 new staff just in 2017.

ExercisAbilities Staff
ExercisAbilities Staff

Your Donations

Your outpouring of generosity has made this growth possible in 2017, making it our most impactful year in our history!  Together, we met the recovery and rehabilitation needs of 58 more individuals with disabilities in our Forever Strong Program.  These individuals no longer receive much needed assistance with exercise and rehabilitation, which is vital to maintaining and improving their quality of life.  They move better, have less pain, have less risk of complications from sitting too long such as sores on their skin, contracted joints, and secondary cardiovascular conditions. Because of you, they are happier and better able to interact with their community, work, and life.

More than 14,000 individual visits came through our door in 2017!  Exercisabilities has also begun the planning for a new pediatric rehabilitation unit thanks to your kindness and contributions.  This program will fill a gap in services currently in southeast MN for children with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.  We are thankful for your contributions and grants to allow us to grow to serve the many who are unable to afford this care and would otherwise go without.

Clients at ExercisAbilities Pediatric Practice starting at ExercisAbilities Medical Fitness at ExercisAbilities Rehabilitation Services At ExercisAbilities Power Boxing at ExercisAbilities

2018 Goals

There is even more to come.  In 2018, our goal is to continue to accelerate our work.  Our goals will begin with the start of our pediatric visits on January 16th.  We hope to grow our Forever Strong program to 90 individuals and hope to achieve more than 850 visits a month in our physical therapy and occupational therapy programs.  We are working to add speech therapy services as well.

This work will not be easy considering the changing healthcare insurance changes and decreasing reimbursement and coverage rules.  In 2018 and beyond, more individuals will not be covered for basic, human needs in their recovery process after devastating injuries, illnesses, or birth disabilities.  In fact, our congress has reenacted a damaging and unethical rule that was first made in the 1980’s because they did not act to repeal the therapy cap prior to December 31, 2017.  All Medicare beneficiaries will only receive $2010 of PT or Speech Therapy and $2101 of Occupational Therapy for the entire year with no exceptions, no money allowed over this limit.  This is unethical, unlawful, and requires a loud community to make them change this decision.

What might the therapy cap mean to you?  If your mom, dad, grandma or great uncle has a stroke, is diagnosed with MS, Parkinson’s, or has a spinal cord injury in January 2018, they will only likely be in the hospital for 2-3 weeks and then will only qualify for about 18-20 visits of PT.  Let me tell you that we are good, but not miracle workers.  Evidence and research shows that functional improvements can occur over many years after a stroke, but only with intensive therapy.  Therapy along with skilled exercise and recreation continues to be the most effective treatment for recovery. However, our insurance companies and government are ignoring the evidence to save money.  This is a horrible reality of our current reimbursement world and it is keeping many individuals of all ages from reaching their full potential.

Exercisabilities is here to help!  And together, with your financial and volunteer help, we can provide affordable, reduced fee skilled rehabilitation, exercise, and many other services so that your loved one can continue to achieve their highest potential.  They deserve the best.  Together, we can turn the tide.  Consider a donation today!  We are looking for many volunteers as well to assist with our efforts.  Contact us today!

For more information on the therapy cap, our success this year, our goals for 2018, or how to access our services, call Melanie at 507-259-7570 or visit www.exercisabilities.org.


Donate to ExercisAbilities


You can help with our 2018 Goals: 200 Twitter followers and 800 Facebook followers!

Follow us on  Twitter @Exercisabilitie and  Facebook @Exercisabilities

New Pediatric Practice at ExercisAbilities

New Pediatric Practice at ExercisAbilities

Pediatric Occupational and Physical Therapy now available at Exercisabilities!

We are excited to announce that Exercisabilities will open our new pediatric practice on January 16, 2018.  Christine Hollman, OTR/L and Tessah Skoog, PT, DPT are ready to begin seeing pediatric patients in our developing new Pediatric Clinic Rooms.

Christine has 27 years experience in the pediatric field.  She has an interest in treating children with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorders, history of trauma and neglect, mental disorders and challenging behaviors as well as developing disabilities.  Christine has worked in many settings including outpatient, hospital, schools, mental health, and a developmental center.

Tessah Skoog, PT, DPT has been working with Exercisabilities in many areas of expertise since April of 2017.  She has a love for children and working with the pediatric population.  She is interested in all areas of pediatrics and looks forward to growing the program at EA!

To inquire more about our program or to make an initial evaluation appointment, call 507-259-7570.

You can help with our 2018 Goals: 200 Twitter followers and 800 Facebook followers!

Follow us on  Twitter @Exercisabilitie and  Facebook @Exercisabilities

ExercisAbilities Receives Award from Otto Bremer Trust

$30,000 for general operations to provide rehabilitation services to individuals with physical, cognitive, and medical unstable conditions

 ExercisAbilities Awarded Otto Bremer Grant

ROCHESTER, Minn. – ExercisAbilities was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust. The grant will be used toward support of our services and programs to support rehabilitation services to under-served individuals with physical, cognitive, or medically unstable conditions at ExercisAbilities.

“This grant will support our operations to improve our ability to provide rehabilitation services to many in our community who do not have insurance money to support their ongoing recovery needs” explains Melanie Brennan, ExercisAbilities Director and Founder. “Our current health care environment provides very little financial assistance to those with disability to achieve even the most basic physical activity or rehabilitation that is very much needed to maintain an adequate quality of life, let alone make any improvements for them to better participate in life at home, work and the community.”

“The money will help us support operations and staffing to extend our Forever Strong Exercise Therapy and Independent Living Skills to reach more individuals in Southeast Minnesota.” adds Brennan.  “We are so thankful for the Otto Bremer Trust to move this program forward to fulfill an immediate need.”


About Otto Bremer

The Otto Bremer Trust, based in St Paul, MN, is a private charitable trust established in 1944 by founder Otto Bremer, a successful banker and community business leader.  OBT owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and also manages a diversified investment portfolio.  The mission of OBT is to invest in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest.  Since its inception, OBT has invested more than $600 million in organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and western Wisconsin.  Visit ottobremer.org.


About ExercisAbilities

ExercisAbilities is a physical rehabilitation and medical fitness facility located on North Broadway in Rochester.  ExercisAbilities offers a full range of specialized services including long-term assistance with physical recovery following illness, disability, or pain, medically based fitness services for many diagnoses, and other physical and occupational therapy services for all ages. In 2017, ExercisAbilities has served more than 12,000 visits meeting the needs of the Rochester Community.

Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Program (DPP)

Exercisabilities Medical Fitness Program

Prediabetes is a sign that you may be on the path to full blown Type 2 Diabetes and nobody wants that! What if there was a program to help you help yourself, now, before your pre-diabetes flourishes into something much harder to manage. We have good news for you! There is such a program at Exercisabilities.

January is Medical Fitness month here at Exercisabilities, a month where we focus on sharing our healthy fitness and lifestyles programs with you. One such program is the PreventT2 Program, or DPP (Diabetes Prevention Program), a Type 2 diabetes prevention program meant to help you diagnose your prediabetes and then prevent it from developing further.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a technical way of saying you’re just not a Type 2 diabetic yet. It is a term used to describe elevated blood sugar that hasn’t reach the point where you are officially diagnosed at a Type 2 Diabetic. It’s a warning sign that your metabolism is getting out of balance and you need to make some life changes. The good news is that making some healthy lifestyle changes can help stop things from progressing to Type 2 Diabetes.

Prediabetes Risk Factors

Some of the risk factors for prediabetes include:

  • Being overweight (BMI > 24 kg/m2)
  • Eating too much sugar and soda
  • Being physical inactive
  • Having a family history of diabetes or prediabetes
  • Having heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • See more

Signs and Symptoms of Prediabetes

There are typically no signs or symptoms of prediabetes which is why it is so important to be screened for it during a medical check-up or routine bloodwork. This is especially important if you have any of the risk factors.

Diagnosing Prediabetes

The good news is that diagnosing prediabetes is fairly easy.  You can start with the National Diabetes Prevention Program Prediabetes Screening Test. Just click here for a link and then answer the seven questions.


Your health care provider can usually do a simple blood test to determine if you are truly prediabetic. Three common tests are Hemoglobin A1c test, a fasting blood sugar level test or the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.

Click here for our PreventT2 Program Doctor Recommendation form or stop into Exercisabilities to pick up the form to bring to your healthcare provider.

How You Can Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

There are three key lifestyle changes you can make to delay or prevent your prediabetes from becoming Type 2 Diabetes.

  1. Control your weight – losing just 5-10% of your body weight makes a difference.
  2. Exercise – Get moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day
  3. Nutrition – Avoid sugars and carbs. Eat fresh, fiber rich foods and veggies.

PreventT2 Program

The PreventT2 Program is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This proven program can help you make modest lifestyle changes and cut your risk of Type 2 Diabetes by more than half. The program is offered at Exercisabilities.

With the PreventT2 Program you get:

  • A CDC approved curriculum
  • The skills you need to lose weight, be more physically active and manage stress
  • A trained lifestyle coach to guide and encourage you
  • Support from other participants in the program

Costs for PreventT2 Program – (It may be covered by insurance)

This year long program costs just $520 for the entire one year of 26 dietitian-led education hours, 2 hours per week small group training classes, and 6 months of free gym membership.  That is less than $5.00 per class.  For this low cost, you will have a comprehensive fitness assessment and will participate in our Learn To Be Fit class twice a week.  This non-competitive, fun, and safe class is taught by an exercise specialist and includes circuit strength, cardio training instruction, and a variety of exposure to many forms of exercise.  No matter if you are experienced or have never stepped foot on a treadmill, you will find this class to be welcoming, appropriately challenging, and life changing!

Paying for the PreventT2 Program

Your insurance may pay for the full program. We recommend you call your insurance company directly to inquire about their coverage of the DPP (Code 0403T).

Medicaid, Ucare, and many private insurance companies will cover the cost of the program if you meet the following criteria:

  • 18 years or older
  • No previous diagnosis of diabetes
  • BMI > 24 (22 if Asian)
  • Previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes
  • At least one of the following in the past year (need a copy of the Lab report on file)
    • HbA1C: 5.7% – 6.4%
    • Fasting plasma glucose 100-125 mg/dL
    • 2 hour plasma glucose (after a 75 gm glucose load): 140-19 mg/dL

What makes the Prevent T2 program unique at Exercisabilities?

The typical community provided DPP Program includes 26 sessions with a trained lifestyle coach.  Lifestyle coaches may or may not be a dietitian or personal trainer.  At Exercisabilities, our program is instructed by a registered Dietitian and includes 2 hours per week with an Exercise Physiologist.  These highly skilled providers bring a high level of commitment to your success and safety in this program.  With Laurie and our team of Exercise Specialists, you will see improvements that will bring changes to your life that will create permanent change.

Register for PreventT2 Program

Exercisabilities would love to help you make the small lifestyle changes you need to prevent your Type 2 Diabetes. You can enroll even if you have not been officially diagnoses as prediabetic.

Laurie Brengman, Dietitian and DPP Lifestyle coach at Exercisabilities would love to see you at the upcoming class which starts April 9, 2018. To register, go to wellconnectsemn.org.


You can help with our 2018 Goals: 200 Twitter followers and 800 Facebook followers!

Follow us on  Twitter and  Facebook @Exercisabilites