EHP Performance Opens Mental Health Clinic Inside the Gym

September 20, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Melanie Fierstine
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Last April, we reported on Karla Wolford’s facility—EHP Performance in Moorhead, MN—and how she has turned her gym into a hybrid fitness and medical facility that includes CrossFit coaches and nutritionists, as well as a chiropractor and a physical therapist. 

Most recently, Wolford, a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician and CrossFit Level 2 coach, has added a mental health clinic to her facility, headed by Melanie Fierstine—a social work professor at Minnesota State University with 24 years of experience, and the owner of Mindfit Mental Health and Wellness. 

Adding Fierstine is but a piece of the growing plan, as the long-term vision for EHP Performance is to add a primary care physician and registered nurse to the roster, as well.

The details: Fierstine offers the full gamut of mental health services at EHP Performance, from mindset and sports performance coaching for lifestyle and elite athletes, to support for conditions like PTSD, anxiety or substance abuse.

  • “I’ll work with anyone who wants to improve some kind of mental health, either for their sport, or whatever they need to take care of their mindset or barriers that are getting in the way of them being a better athlete or human,” Fierstine explained. 
  • She added: “It could be they’re looking for help with performance, or they need emotional or social support. I tailor what I do based on what they need. That might be mindset and goal setting or it might be some kind of clinical mental health support.”
  • It all starts with an overall assessment, where she assesses the client’s health and their psychology, how things are going for them, what’s going on in their lives, and then she devises a personal plan for each client.

One big thing: One of Fierstine’s main goals is to keep her services affordable to reduce barriers to access to people who need them.

  • “I’m in a position in my life now where I can keep the cost really low because I don’t want to be a barrier to access,” she said. 
  • Though she looked into teaming up with a medical insurance company, she realized it wasn’t the right approach, as doing the latter comes with a host of other challenges we don’t often realize, she explained. 
  • “When you work with insurance companies, you have to give a diagnosis in order for them to reimburse, and some people don’t need a diagnosis for a specific condition…Also, when you deal with insurance companies, they can access your health records, so doing it this way keeps everything more private,” FIerstine said, adding that insurance companies also usually limit the number of hours a person can work with any given provider, which she also makes issue with.
  • “So instead, I’m just trying to offer services for people that are affordable,” she explained. 

The big picture: Whether you’re trying to overcome PTSD, struggling with substance abuse, or you’re a Semifinals or CrossFit Games athlete looking to maximize performance, mental coaching can make a huge difference in a person’s life, and it’s something that has all too often been overlooked, Fierstine explained. 

  • “As athletes, we train our muscles and we fuel our bodies and focus on nutrition, but sometimes we forget how the brain connects to everything and how our thoughts and emotions affect everything,” she said.

“Athletes aren’t robots. We’re people with lives and our brains all work differently and we have different experiences, so I try to help (my clients) connect all those dots, and we do this by providing a holistic approach to health and wellness. We’re complex human beings and it’s important to treat the whole person.”

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