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Fitness is the Best Medicine; Fit Fix in 2006!; 4 Pillars of Fitness

These innovative programming ideas motivate members to exercise using all offered programs and products.

Fitness is the Best Medicine

Palos Health & Fitness Center, Orland Park, Ill. Individuals suffering from Parkinson's, a progressive, neurological degenerative disease, yearn to find somewhere they can go to help them cope with the condition, so they can maintain their independence and quality of life, as well as connect with others who have the same affliction. Since Palos Health & Fitness Center Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor Christine Steadman's father was diagnosed with Parkinson's, she has been all too familiar with this need. So, through her connections at the Aquatic Exercise Association, Steadman sought out such a program that she could model after, which she found in the Chicagoland Southern Suburbs. The program at Palos Health started small, with four participants. To date, the program has reached out to a total of 15 participants, with half of them attending with their spouses or caregivers. Steadman earned a Parkinson's Exercise Certification from Desert Southwest Fitness, and she runs the class with help from one volunteer. The focus of the Parkinson's classes is on balance, gait, range of motion, functional exercises for activities of daily living and fun. One day per week, the class meets in the lap pool and water walks, works with foam dumbbells, stretch cords, kickboards and noodles, plays water volleyball and basketball, and dances. On another day of the week, the class meets in a studio where they stretch and use free weights, medicine balls, foam balance pads, beams and discs, steppers and BOSU balls. On occasion, Steadman's class even joins the Tai Chi class. All participants have kept up with the program and have even developed interests in other classes. "The program has enhanced their lives in many ways," says then-Executive Director Sharon Siegel (she has since left the facility), including new friendships and people to connect with and share their trials and tribulations with. "Most of all, they have maintained their quality of life, their confidence level is elevated and they have remained as independent as possible," says Siegel. "Their gait, reactionary skills and balance have all improved. And, many of their spouses and caregivers have said, 'I have the friend [who] I once knew back!'" Fitness is the best medicine!

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Fit Fix in 2006!

Build A Body Personal Training, Green, Ohio To help her clients start the year off right, Build a Body Personal Training Owner Lisa Kelleman-McClain created the Fit Fix in 2006 walking challenge, which was held the entire month of January. The goal was to not only help members get used to physical activity every day, but also to help those who wanted to lose weight. Participants were provided a pedometer and a Portion Plate, a dishwasher-safe plate that offers a tangible demonstration of how much food an individual should eat with illustrated portion areas. Participants were instructed to wear their pedometer every day, and to record the number of steps they took each day on a report form. Pedometers were set for stride length, and participants were told to strive for the government recommended 10,000 steps each day, which, according to Kelleman-McClain, is "a little difficult!" Participants trying to lose weight were instructed to monitor their heart rate and work out in the recommended 55 to 85-90 percent target heart rate zone. Prizes were determined by the total steps taken. First prize was two free personal training sessions, and second prize was a one-hour consultation with a registered and licensed dietician. Participants were able to keep their pedometer and Portion Plate. A total of 20 clients took part in the walking challenge. First place prize winner, Tiffney Holland-Kerekes walked a total of 370,408 steps, and she also set a record for the facility clientele with a one-day count of 25,082 steps. Second place winner, Robin Whitacre, walked 286,686 steps. "The walking challenge … was fun!" says Kelleman-McClain. "Of those who participated, everyone mentioned how much the pedometers encouraged them to get up and walk." Kelleman-McClain says she plans many more contests, including a free boot camp, a nutrition contest and a "Train the Trainer" day.

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4 Pillars of Fitness

LifeCenter Plus, Hudson, Ohio Making sure members get the most out of their memberships is a goal for which all fitness facility operators should strive. Unfortunately, most members focus solely on strength and cardio training, neglecting the other important components of fitness: flexibility and balance. To counteract this, LifeCenter Plus staff began a "one of a kind program" that focuses on all four components, titled the 4 Pillars of Fitness. "Our goal for the program had three parts," says Fitness Director Paul Lutz. "First, we wanted to explain to our members the importance of the four pillars of fitness; second, we wanted the members to incorporate the four pillars of fitness into their routines; and third, we wanted our members to utilize areas or programs in the club that they had never tried before." Fitness staff taught classes about the importance of the four pillars of fitness, as well as held demonstrations specifically targeted toward balance and flexibility (since they are the two pillars most people tend to lack). They also purchased four 8-foot pillars, each individually labeled "strength," "cardio," "flexibility" and "balance," which were continually moved around the facility to get members' attention. And, "in order to get members to utilize different areas of our club," says Lutz, "we related each program or activity to one or more of the four pillars of fitness in our class description program guide." The program worked. Lutz says it helped members better understand the key components of fitness, and it got members involved in different areas of the facility, which not only enhanced their workouts, but also got more participation in the programs the facility offers. "Some people tried yoga or Pilates for the first time ever," says Lutz, "while others tried out some of our aqua classes. In some cases, we got the members who only went into one area of the club, like the pool, to discover our weight room or walking track."

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