The Future Of Fitness

The development of the medically integrated health-fitness industry began with the inauguration of cardiac rehabilitation programs featuring heart-healthy exercises and education focused on the development of a healthy lifestyle.

While traditional gyms provided exercise programs, they rarely offered programming that supported lifestyle changes–a key ingredient to managing chronic disease and supporting long-term health improvements. Filling the void, hospital-based cardiac rehab classes began to spring up across the nation.

Simple exercises performed under the watchful eye of trained exercise therapists led to social networks and ultimately medically based fitness facilities, as rehab patients also attended hospital-based nutrition and smoking cessation classes, all of which were designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

This holistic approach to cardiac rehabilitation was combined with ”a perfect storm” that was sweeping the landscape of traditional healthcare. The advent of managed care, a drastic reduction in inpatient hospital days and a renewed focus on wellness supported the development of the medically based fitness facility, which fit neatly into a continuum of care designed to keep clients healthy, while moving them into the appropriate healthcare system when they weren’t. It also provided a revenue stream for healthcare providers who were feeling the fiscal pinch of dwindling inpatient days.

A New Market Emerges

The creation of successful, holistic, medically integrated health and fitness centers is both a science and an art, as architects and planners design more than a gym. “We have ‘blurred’ the connection of medical fitness and rehabilitation, and seek to appropriately link the two environments,” says Mike Corby, AIA, LEED AP, Executive Vice President of Design for Integrated Architecture, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based architecture and engineering firm that has designed dozens of wellness and fitness facilities.

“Our approach is to expose the synergies of medical fitness, rehabilitation and educational uses in the environment. By understanding the dynamics of each subset–the fitness user, likes/dislikes, reasons to join/maintain membership; the rehab user, the attendant emotional and physical characteristics; and the educational opportunities for, and the importance of, understanding one’s body, one’s lifestyle and its impact on health–we design facilities that meet those needs, and are filled with energy and excitement. These are environments where users interact and connect,” Corby states.

The Fitness Centre at Celebration Health, which opened a decade ago, is an early example of an Integrated Architecture design and a medically integrated facility. Located within Florida Hospital Celebration Health, the Centre offers both specialized rehabilitation and traditional fitness activities, and is dedicated to the achievement of optimal health while responding directly to the hospital’s philosophy of simultaneously caring for the whole person–mind, body and spirit.

The Early Years

Florida Hospital Celebration Health–a one-stop healthcare shop–houses primary and specialty physicians, a full-service facility providing inpatient and outpatient services, 24-hour emergency care, maternity programs and The Fitness Centre.

The hospital-owned-and-operated wellness/fitness revolution hasn’t been limited to the health-focused, sun-kissed Florida crowd. Midwestern sensibilities also view the development of the medical fitness facility as a logical step.

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