Vinh Pham wants to disrupt the world of physiotherapy.
“Just because we’ve been doing it a certain way for five years doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it that way,” he argues.
The Canadian entrepreneur established Myodetoxa chain of physical therapy venues that take the experience to the next level with more one-on-one attention, a modern, customer-centric approach, comfortable facilities with a millennial vibe, and a mix of experts under one roof (no more going from one to the next) clinic to another, he says).
Although Myodetox today has three locations in the Los Angeles area, the company’s roots go back to Pham’s apartment where he first began seeing clients. As a young PT, he wanted to help his patients with better one-to-one care. But in the clinics, he saw nearly 40 patients a day, robotically rotating through them.
“That’s not how you give good care, and we help people to heal,” he says.
So he set up a shop in his flat. “It was pretty funny because I had a stream of patients waiting outside. Not exactly what a landlord would want,” he jokes.
But for two years, people found him through word of mouth and kept coming. When he had saved about $50,000, he opened a small clinic above the barbershop nearby. Again, it was a ‘sleek’ operation: there wasn’t much budget for frills, decor and atmosphere. Until one of his clients, Scott Marcaccio, offered to be his co-founder and support him, helping him open a more professional clinic. That led them to develop Myodetox, which first debuted in Toronto and Vancouver before opening in Los Angeles.
Pham, the son of Vietnamese immigrants, had his own health crisis that awakened him to the power of good medical care. In his early twenties, he was diagnosed with a tumor on his neck. Days after he was diagnosed, he had surgery to have it removed. His doctor told him that doing so could cause him to lose his voice; but when Pham awoke from the procedure, his voice was still intact. That’s why he committed to using it to help others.
After four years of startup, Myodetox, Pham, took investments from investors enthusiastic about the wellness/fitness space, such as Equinox Capital. It allowed him to enter new markets, such as the US, which he considers a holy grail in business: While Canada may be his home, he realized there was a real potential to disrupt physical therapy in the US.
Pham, who has worked with professional athletes, Olympians and celebrities, wants to make his work more widely accessible. So this year released a book with Simon and Schuster entitled Sit up straight — a guide to basic stretching exercises that anyone can do on a daily basis, especially those who sit at their desks all day to work.
“It is estimated that during the pandemic, people sat for up to 17 hours a day,” he says. “And that’s not what the human body was made for. In fact, we saw our business grow during the pandemic, with twice as many people coming in.”
For those in the LA area, Myodetox clinics are open to new patients. While the company is still adapting to the US medical health care system to accept insurance policies, they charge flat rates for sessions. “But we’re going to work with more insurance companies, we’re just now finding that out, and American health care is very different from what I had in Canada, where you were reimbursed every year for services like physical therapy, and you could go and see a therapist. visit you in the area. It’s definitely more complicated here. But we’ll get there,” he says.
He also has an app in the works, due this fall, that will open up his service to more Americans, he hopes. “It’s designed so that you answer a few questions, and it gives you an accurate diagnosis and then connects you with someone in your area, if possible, to get treatment.”
With so many different offshoots of the company, Pham hopes more people can take care of their bodies on a regular basis. “Maintenance is important. You have to be consistent. So much of current physical therapy is reactive. You will receive treatment if you are in pain. We want to change that mentality. Do it proactively so you don’t hurt.”
Pham suggests doing the following exercises regularly, if not daily: mid-back mobility for rounded backs; treal hips for those who sit and feel tightness while squatting; hamstring and sciatica nerve mobility; and the tight hip flexors.
“We have to give our bodies time,” he says. “And I want more people to have a better basic understanding of their own bodies.”
In the opening pages of his book, he writes about how so many smart, successful businessmen, as he has seen, struggle with their health. And he admits that he sometimes falls into this category, too. So he shifted his focus and started making time for himself and his body. Walking the talk, as they say.
“We need to future-proof our bodies so that we can live a better quality of life and enjoy the successes.”