Club Insider

Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

When you write a monthly article for any publication, you must constantly be thinking about what your next topic will be and what you can write that will hopefully motivate and encourage people to think about how they might incorporate some of it into their own business/life. The intent is to build a following of people who are inspired to really make a difference for others.

This month, The Claremont Club did something that has made an impact on all 260 staff: we hired our first quadriplegic Manager, Hal Hargrave. I have written about Hal many times over the past 11 years, as he is such a special young man who I admire and respect so very much. What he has done in his young life has been an example and model for so many people. In 2008, Hal was the Founder of The Be Perfect Foundation, a non-profit 501C(3) that was founded to help people with Spinal Cord Injuries. In January of this year, I hired Hal as our Education and Marketing Supervisor of The Perfect Step, which is our Spinal Cord and Paralysis Center. Watching him work with the Specialists, Aides and Administrator and how he interacts with our clients, it was an easy decision to promote him to Director of the Center. He is intelligent (he has received his Master's degree from The University of La Verne), articulate, passionate and dedicated to our club and to helping heal others. And, he is respected by everyone on our team. Hal's wheelchair has not been a barrier for him, and it certainly has not been for us. As a matter of fact, I wish we had 100 Hals.

Have you ever thought about what it means to be an inclusive club? Not just for your members, but also because of your culture. What does it say about your company? What do you get out of helping forge a career path for someone who has been challenged by a physical or mental disability? How does giving hope and possibilities back to someone change who you are. And, are you in this business to truly change lives and do you live it every day?

Yesterday, Linda Johnson came to see me. Linda has Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer and went through our Living Well after Cancer program in May of 2011. She has been our Ambassador for many years and was in our documentary, Exercise is Medicine. I hadn't seen her in several months, but she came in to wish me a happy birthday (June 7) and to tell me about how much the Metastatic Cancer Support Group has grown here at the club and how much it has meant to people who attend it. She leads this group and also another one at City of Hope in Duarte, California about 24 miles from us. She is a remarkable person who has inspired so many members and staff over the years.

I write about this to show you that it does not need to be intimidating or unclear how to begin a program for people with chronic injuries or chronic illnesses. You can start small with a support group or you can hire someone with a physical challenge, even if it is only for 3 - 4 hours a week. We have hired people to read stories to children or to greet our members at the front desk. What does 3 - 4 or even 10 hours a week cost your club? And, what is the return on staff and member retention? Your culture is what makes the difference. Exercise IS Medicine, and it is proven out in many different ways.

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