Vinh Pham is looking to disrupt the world of physical therapy.
“Just because we’ve been doing it one way for 5o years, doesn’t mean we have to keep doing that way,” he argues.
The Canadian entrepreneur established Myodetox, a chain of physical therapy locations that elevate the experience with more one-on-one attention, a modern, customer-service first approach, comfy facilities with a Millennial vibe, and a mix of experts under one roof (no more hopping from one clinic to another, he says).
While Myodetox today has three locations in the Los Angeles area, the company’s roots actually go back to Pham’s condo where he first started seeing clients. As a young PT, he wanted to help his patients with better one-on-one care. But in the clinics, he was seeing nearly 40 patients a day, rotating through them robotically.
“That’s not how you provide good care, and we’re in the business of helping people heal,” he says.
So he set up shop in his condo. “It was kinda funny because I had a stream of patients waiting hanging outside. Not exactly what a landlord would want,” he jokes.
But for two years, people found him through word of mouth, and kept coming. Once he saved up about $50,000, he opened a small clinic above the neighborhood barbershop. Again, it was a “lean” operation: there wasn’t much budget for frills, decor, and ambience. That is until one of his clients, Scott Marcaccio offered to be his co-founder and back him, helping him open a more professional clinic. That led them to develop Myodetox, which first debuted in Toronto and Vancouver, before opening up in Los Angeles.
Pham who is the son of Vietnamese Americans had his own health crisis that woke him up to the power of good medical care. In his early 20s, he was diagnosed with a tumor in neck. Days after he was diagnosed, he was having surgery to have it removed. His doctor told him that he may lose his voice in the process; but when Pham woke up from the procedure, his voice was still in tact. Thus, he committed himself to using it to help others.
After four years of bootsrapping Myodetox, Pham, took on investment from investors excited about the wellness/fitness space, such as Equinox Capital. It’s allowed him to enter new markets such as the US, which he sees as a holy grain in business: while Canada may be home, he realized that there was real potential to disrupt physical therapy in the US.
Pham who has worked worked with professional athletes, Olympians, and celebrities, wants to make his work more widely accessible. So realized a book with Simon and Schuster this year, titled Sit up Straight — a guide with basic stretches that everyone can do on a daily basis, especially those sitting at their desks all day long for work.
“It’s estimated that during the pandemic, people were sitting for up to 17 hours a day,” he says. “And that’s not what the human body was designed for. In fact, we saw our business grow during the pandemic, with twice as many people coming in.”
For those in the LA area, the Myodetox clinic is open to new patients. While the company is still adapting to the American medical healthcare system to accept insurance policies, they’re charging flat rates for sessions. “But we are going to be working with more insurance companies, we’re just figuring that out right now, and American healthcare is very different from what I had in Canada where you got an allowance every year for services such as physical therapy, and could go in and see a therapist in your area. Here, it’s definitely more complicated. But we’ll get there,” he says.
He also has an app in the works, that will be out this fall, which will open up his service to more Americans, he hopes. “It’s designed so that you answer a few questions, and it gives you a proper diagnosis, and then connects you to someone in your area, if possible to get treatment.
With so many different offshoots of the business, Pham hopes that more people are able to tend to their bodies regularly. “Maintenance is important. You have to be consistent. So much of physical therapy today is reactive. You go get treatment when you have pain. We want to change that mindset. Do it proactively so you don’t have pain.”
Pham suggests the following exercises to be done regularly, if not daily: mid-back mobility for rounded backs; tight hips for those that sit and feel tightness when the squat; hamstring and sciatic 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 baseline knowledge of their own body.”
In the opening pages of his book, in fact, he writes about how so many smart, successful business people, he’s seen, struggle with their health. And he admits, he’s fallen in this category too at times. That’s why he shifted his focus, and started carving out time for himself and his body. Walking the talk, as they say. “We need to futureproof our bodies so we can live a better quality of life, and enjoy the successes.”