You have questions, we have answers. We took some time this October to speak with Mike Alpert, the president and CEO of The Claremont Club, on medical fitness’ place in the health club industry.
CS: What is medical fitness?
MA: I define medical fitness as using exercise as medicine.
CS: How is Claremont bridging the gap between medicine and fitness?
MA: We’re taking an evidence-based approach to prove that patients who are active and fit live longer, healthier lives. This would answer the question: shouldn’t all doctors prescribe exercise (and fitness) to their patients?
Two examples of this are our Project Walk program — that is currently helping improve the quality of life for 48 full-time Spinal Cord Injured (SCI) clients — and our Living Well after Cancer program — that in the past eight years has helped over 580 women and their families. Both programs are proof that exercise and fitness in the right environment have a remarkable impact on the quality of life of people struggling with chronic illnesses or injuries. Saving people and giving them hope, acceptance, respect and possibilities has changed all of our lives here at The Claremont Club.
CS: Why is it important this gap is bridged?
MA: The health club setting is the perfect environment for patients with a chronic illness or injury to get more physically active and gain the tremendous health benefits that we know exercise provides. No one else is doing this.
CS: What are your expectations for the future of medicine and fitness?
MA: I think we need to merge the fitness industry and the health care industry. I don’t understand why they operate so independently when we know that exercise has such a powerful affect on health. I have seen first hand that a health club is the perfect venue to merge fitness with healthcare. We take the designation of “health club” as the most important thing we can do.
CS: What advice can you give to other clubs looking to start offering medical-based programs?
MA: In America today there is a huge void when insurance runs out in helping improve functional capacity of people with a chronic illness or injury. I believe health clubs have a responsibility to help fill that void.
5 things club owners should know about medical fitness:
1. We have a societal obligation to help improve the health of our communities.
2. We have the perfect venue to help people become more physically active.
3. We have the ability to improve and save lives. Is there anything better?
4. By helping the chronically ill or injured we improve the quality of our communities.
5. By giving your employees this higher calling you will cement your position as the employer of choice.