- By Victoria Kidd
Let's face it: healthy eating habits are not the hallmark of American life. Most of us are too busy to give nutrition and exercise much thought. Furthermore, when we pause to give consideration to improving our overall health, we feel a subtle anxiety creeping into our minds, reminding us that we have no idea what foods we should be eating or what exercises we should be doing. We find a myriad of excuses to put these thoughts behind us and carry on with our own version of the status quo. Thankfully for Eastern Panhandle residents, there is a local center available to help forge new paths to their health and fitness goals.
Located within the McCormack Center of City Hospital's Campus is the community's premier health education and fitness center. The Wellness Center at City Hospital— with a wellness area of 19,000 square feet—cannot be mistaken for an average gym. Membership is not reserved for persons affiliated with the hospital, or persons who have been referred to the center by their physicians. All are welcome. The comfortable atmosphere and helpful staff attracts people from every demographic, and you can find members of all ages and fitness levels exercising on state-of-theart equipment or participating in a variety of offered programming. A young teenager trying to improve her fitness can be found using a rowing machine next to a twentyseven- year-old mother bicycling her way to the waistline she prefers. A man in his sixties who is recovering from a heart attack can be found on a treadmill beside a man in his thirties, preparing for his next charitable 10K race. The Center's membership base is not characterized exclusively by any group, and every environmental consideration has been made to ensure that all are welcome.
Wellness Center Director Brent Garrett explains, "We have created a comfortable atmosphere for anyone seeking to improve their overall health and fitness." Visitors will notice that the establishment is founded on principles that are inherently different from other fitness environments. He continues, "We are here to help our members, and you will find that members can always approach our staff with questions about the equipment or how to best reach their goals." Garrett attributes the welcoming environment to the fact that the staff members—many of whom have been there for several years—are true health and wellness experts— completely committed to serving center members.
Members are also quick to praise the staff's efforts, and their testimonials can be found throughout in-house literature. Jen Markovits says, "The Wellness Center is a great facility; it is clean, spacious, and affordable. The staff is very knowledgeable and always available if you have any questions or concerns. It definitely has a great vibe."
Another member, Mary Ann Cincinnati, says, "As a person living with multiple sclerosis, this facility provides me with support and motivation like no other place I've been before." Cincinnati applauds the support she's received from the trainers, employees, and other members. "For me, that emotional support is what lifts me up when I am down and helps me not to give up. Oh, and of course, I have access to all the equipment and a pool, too!"
The amazing staff is only part of what makes the experience so unique. The Wellness Center not only presents clean facilities and a great equipment selection, but also offers the Technogym® System, an innovative digital tracking system that is used by the staff to design individualized exercise programs for members. The system uses an individually assigned Smarktkey that members insert into the machines they are using. The device tracks biofeedback and guides the member through their workout. Records are accessible by Center staff so that progress can be tracked and adjustments can be made. The team can subsequently help answer questions about progress towards individual fitness goals. The Wellness Center is the first in the area to offer this advanced technology, eliminating the need for members to carry clipboards with charting notes from machine to machine.
The Technogym® System is part of the overall philosophy of membercentered service that makes The Wellness Center different from other fitness alternatives. While the center makes available the traditional equipment and free weights common in any gym, the facility also offers onsite childcare and expanded services, such as personal training, massage therapy, and nutritional counseling. Members can also augment their structured exercise programs with aerobic and group exercise programming, including the popular aqua aerobic programs.
Members also benefit from the wide variety of programming that is specifically designed to offer guidance, lend support, give encouragement, and answer questions on health and fitness topics. The Spectrum, for example, is a six-week lifestyle improvement program based on the best-selling book by Dr. Dean Ornish. Other programs, such as Eat Well for Life and Discover Relaxation Within are available to help teach healthy eating habits and stress management. The most popular offering is the Drop 10 in 10 program, a ten-week weight management program that assists the participant in learning about balanced nutrition and lifestyle changes necessary to lose ten pounds in ten weeks.
"We want to offer programs that treat the whole person," explains Dana DeJarnett, the health promotion specialist for The Wellness Center. "From learning how to eat in a healthier manner to finding out how to help better manage your stress levels, we really work to have something available for everybody." Programs are offered to all area residents, regardless of their center membership status. Membership does provide discounts on most programming, and participants in some insurance plans may have limited to full coverage for select workshops.
These workshops and programs are also available to local businesses that may want to provide their employees access to information that can improve their health. Through the Wellness at Work program, basic services are provided, such as cholesterol and glucose screenings, as well as speaking engagements that focus on fitness, stress management, nutrition, and more. All Wellness at Work programs aim to empower employees to take control of their health, thereby helping to improve employee productivity by reducing employee illness. The Wellness team can also customize a program to fit an employer's needs.
It's not just members and Wellness at Work participants that benefit from the expertise of center staff. The team frequently delivers information through programs at schools, civic organizations, churches, and other venues. Staff members are very active in the community, and they make every effort to provide effective programming that impacts the overall health of everyone in the area. Exemplary of such programming is a new program coming in January that takes aim at obesity in youth. The BodyWorks program teaches parents to be role models for their children and provides tools that are necessary to make better health decisions. Its focus is on adolescents, ages nine to thirteen. Participants are provided fitness journals, cookbooks, meal planners, and more.
From their technology-based fitness program to community health screenings, The Wellness Center at City Hospital proves that it is much more than just a fitness center. They are undeniably the community's health and fitness hub. To get updates on upcoming programs, call The Wellness Center at 304-264- 1232 and ask to have your name included on their mailing lists. Be sure to ask if someone is available to give you a tour of the expansive facility! And don't hesitate to check out their website: http://wvuh-east. org/services/wellness-center/index. aspx