Reh-Fit Centre wasn’t originally envisioned as a health club, unlike most in the industry. In the early 1970s, before it was one of the premier health clubs in Canada and even named “Reh-Fit,” what is now a health club was a stress test lab tucked away in St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“It was a small laboratory — no more than 250 square feet — with a treadmill for running the stress tests we used to diagnose heart problems,” said Sue Boreskie, the CEO of Reh-Fit Centre. “Patients began turning up for workouts on the treadmill, to get in shape following their heart attacks.”
The space wasn’t designed to function as a fitness center, which put a lot of strain on the stress test center. “As more and more people joined the cardiac rehabilitation program, organizers realized they needed more space,” said Boreskie.
Reh-Fit Centre was born, moving to its own location and beginning operation as a full-service health club. And from these humble beginnings, Reh-Fit has experienced exponential growth over the last four decades.
“The center has since expanded into an 86,000-square-foot facility serving almost 10,000 people annually,” said Boreskie. “As Canada’s first certified medical fitness facility, we provide an environment to help individuals achieve and maintain health and wellness.”
Part of that environment is a full slate of wellness offerings, from fitness programs to general wellness education.
“Our strength is our interdisciplinary approach to program and service delivery,” said Boreskie. “We offer individual and group options for exercise and nutrition, and education through a team of certified professionals. Expert guidance from professional personnel, innovative health enhancement programs, and the integration of medical, rehabilitative and fitness services are all delivered in a clean, service-oriented environment.”
Reh-Fit has come a long way since being a small stress test lab. Today, the club’s goal is to provide the surrounding community with all the tools it needs to live healthier lifestyles under one roof.
“We provide many services, creating a one-stop shop for our members,” said Boreskie. “In a single day, our members can have a physiotherapy appointment, workout, eat lunch, have a massage, take a yoga class, and attend an educational session if they plan their schedule accordingly.”
According to Boreskie, Reh-Fit has become an encompassing experience of wellness. “We have created an environment where our members want to come and spend a few hours of their day,” she said. “We want to be one of the three important places in their life — with home and work being the other two.”
To keep members engaged, Reh-Fit organizes and hosts many community-oriented events and challenges.
Community education on wellness, according to Boreskie, is another way the club engages its members. “Reh-Fit also collaborates on a variety of research studies to assess and ensure program effectiveness in building community health,” she said. “With a goal of building community health, we host a variety of educational sessions and events that deliver the latest information on health and fitness to the wider community.”
This program and more, have resulted in Reh-Fit Centre becoming a true solution for well-being in its community. “The Reh-Fit Centre is more than a fitness center,” said Boreskie. “We provide an environment to help individuals achieve and maintain health and wellness.”