American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

Health clubs as an extension of community clinical services for non-members. This was the striking reframing of fitness club-provided “wellness programming” that ACE leadership offered at last month’s 2019 IHRSA Convention during a sixty-minute session as part of the IHRSA Community Health and Wellness track.

The session, moderated by Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, ACE President and Chief Science Officer, painted the picture of a future health club. In that picture, the facility is a hub where qualified exercise professionals, health coaches and other wellness experts provide tailored, comprehensive programming to deconditioned members of the community who are struggling with one or more chronic diseases or are at risk of them. Importantly, those community members are not members of the health club-- at least, not yet.

As explained in the session, this refreshed vision for health clubs offers benefits to both the club and individuals served.

For the health club, it’s an opportunity to revitalize the perception of health clubs and engage a new audience, an audience that might not have previously considered the health club as part of their chronic disease treatment plan. This vision may be seen as a risk since this type of wellness programing breaks with the norm. However, as non-members begin to see results from the person-centric wellness program, fitness facilities may see the rewards from their risk as these non-members convert to members. In some cases, these converted members keep their membership three times longer than average.

For participants, the rewards gained by these types of wellness programs are beyond measure and usually include more energy and fewer medications; more balance and fewer falls; more good years with loved ones; and fewer days in pain. In addition, especially for those who were timid about health clubs before, they may discover that health clubs make sense for them and the wellbeing of their health.