By Molly Smeltzer, Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center
What is a medical fitness center? Perhaps you have never heard of a medical fitness center because they are not on every street corner like a typical gym or health club. Dr. Cary Wing, executive director of the Medical Fitness Association, explains, “By definition, a medical fitness center must have either a medical director or a physician advisory board that oversees the program, although the supervision may not be full time.”
Most medical fitness centers differ from regular gyms or fitness clubs because the staff is made up of exercise physiologists, physical therapists, or even athletic trainers with nationally recognized certifications and also experience working with people who have chronic diseases or are medically challenged. Most medical fitness centers also provide a comprehensive full health-risk assessment, taking medical history into consideration and recommendations from doctors when prescribing an exercise prescription. Another advantage for a medical fitness center are classes geared specifically for certain diseases or disorders with medical staff and teams trained to teach and facilitate the needs of patients and members alike. For instance, exercise classes designed specifically for people who have Parkinson’s disease, yoga classes to aid with chronic pain, a class focused on pelvic floor training, and learning how to understand your body’s reaction to stress are examples of classeås offered at the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center, a medical fitness center new to the Bloomington-Normal community.
President of Advocate BroMenn Hospital, Colleen Kannaday stated, “Health care is shifting to wellness and prevention and away from treating people only when they are sick. This project (Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center) will help us to continue on that journey. This will help individuals to be accountable for their own health and wellbeing, so fitness becomes a part of their lifestyle.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that seven in 10 deaths are from chronic diseases, and 86 percent of all healthcare costs stem from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Medical fitness centers serve as a place for those people with chronic illnesses to develop, initiate, and maintain an active lifestyle that minimizes the risk of illness and also provide the education to improve their health and wellness. A member of the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center after only seven months stated, “My doctor has taken me off my diabetes and cholesterol medication, and I have lowered my blood pressure medication as well.”
Combining credentialed staff and a collaboration with clinicians along with the use of technology to deliver exercise prescriptions has been key for the new medical fitness center in our community. After providing a comprehensive health risk assessment, an exercise prescription is delivered to each member on a key that can be used in cardiovascular and strength equipment. A member of the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center stated, “I like the key system, it helps me remember my workout.” Other members have remarked that it is like having your fitness coach with you all the time.
With a changing healthcare landscape and a need for an emphasis on health promotion and prevention of chronic illnesses, medical fitness centers are becoming more common. More than a typical health club, medical fitness is the synergy that happens when exercise and healthcare professionals work together to improve patient care and inform the exercise experience.
Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center in located in the Center for Integrated Wellness along with METHOD Sports Performance and McLean County Orthopedics. The Center for Integrated Wellness is a state-of-the-art health and wellness facility designed to deliver customized care, connected medical services, preventative health programs, fitness and sports performance training to the greater Bloomington-Normal community.