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Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike Alpert, Claremont Club CEO & PresidentMike Alpert, Claremont Club CEO & President

Those of you who have read these articles over the past year know that I am passionate about exercise and the profound effect that it has on overall health. You know I believe that it is the most powerful medicine we have today and that we should be moving together, as an industry, to bridge the gap that exists between fitness and health care. We not only have a societal obligation but have the precise venues and abilities to help build and nurture entire healthy communities. And, not just with the already fit members who join our clubs but also with the people who are disabled and those who struggle with chronic injuries and chronic illnesses. What if by redefining the vital role of the health and fitness professional through Exercise IS Medicine, I could show you a pathway to more members, new healthcare connections and greater success and both lower member and staff attrition? If you answered, "Yes," or even, "Maybe," please read on.

The Claremont ClubI have been truly fortunate and blessed to be working with and associated with some of the finest people who are all passionate about moving the Exercise IS Medicine (EIM) initiative forward within the health club environment. Specifically, Joe Moore, Helen Durkin and Alexandra Macrom Black at IHRSA; Jim Whitehead, CEO of ACSM; Dr. Robert Sallis of Kaiser Permanente; Walt Thompson, immediate past President of ACSM and Liz Joy, M.D., another past President of ACSM. To do this, they need our help because we have the social environment; the highly qualified individuals and the equipment and services required to assure a continuum of care for the people who need us.

What is needed is a multi-faceted strategy, and there are some steps that need to be addressed to begin with. One is that your club needs to be inclusive and inviting to all populations. IHRSA supports and has been leading an initiative called UFIT, which arose out of UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization). UFIT is aimed to make communities more inclusive with an original focus on persons with disabilities. IHRSA is currently piloting UFIT with 7 - 8 clubs, and the scope has been to expand it to go beyond persons with disabilities to include those with other chronic conditions. Thus, there is a strategic closeness between UFIT and EIM in health clubs.

Would you benefit from joining a compelling EIM community that would offer ongoing educational material, podcasts, webinars, obtaining a distinguished certification and improve your career by making you more attractive and valuable to health club employers and keeping you connected to a growing number of like-minded professionals?

I challenge you to think of where the industry and your club's future growth is going to come from. What will your distinct differentiator be? Will you continue to fight price and size? Or, will you see the huge potential of working with respected physicians and clinicians in your community who will recognize your qualifications and alignment with EIM and be comfortable and desirous of referring their patients to you knowing that you will be improving their overall health and quality of life through exercise and nutrition? Let me know if you are ready at malpert@claremontclub.com.

Exercise IS Medicine!

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