Creating community for healthy lifestyle changes

New year, new decade and numerous resolutions are made; lose weight, go to the gym or quit an unhealthy habit. By the end of January, many of those well-intended plans have fizzled out.

For others, there is success but how do they do it?

Firstly, they make a life decision to make real changes to improve their overall health. Then they seek out a way to support that decision.

For Trang Pham, married with a young family, good health seemed far out of reach.

“About two years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol and was taking medications for all three,” Pham recalls. “I also had some mild depression and after a while, worked up the courage to tell my husband who encouraged me to speak to a counselor. I was advised to ‘get moving.’”

After reading about LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic, a unique type of gym with a health-centered approach, Pham decided to try it. It would be an understatement to say she hasn’t regretted it.

“I can tell you that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Since starting at LIVE WELL, my life and my health have improved significantly. First of all, within two months of starting the regular exercise and implementing healthy habits learned from the LIVE WELL education, my doctor took me off all three medications.”

What sets LIVE WELL apart from other gyms is that the goal is to not just get people exercising but to help them stay exercising by supporting them in making lifestyle changes to support that aim.

Tory Brooks-Hill, co-owner of two Vancouver LIVE WELL locations, says typically their members know what they should be doing but they are struggling to turn this intention into action.

“They have tried many types of exercise: they’ve tried diet and they need to make a change in their life and that is where LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic comes in,” Brooks-Hill explains. She says the reasons why some people can’t or won’t exercise regularly vary.

“It can be because of chronic health problems: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or osteoporosis. But 40 per cent of our membership comes to us for prevention. These are people who are leading a sedentary life and just struggling to start exercising regularly.”

There is no “gym bunny” vibe at LIVE WELL. People come in all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels. Each member gets a plan that is tailored specifically to their needs, provided following an in-depth assessment by a clinical exercise expert, who is trained to work with people across the health spectrum. Each session, consisting of 10 members, exercises together with the machines in a circle formation, which fosters connections and sense of community, unusual for a gym environment. It’s important to note that, each session is clinically supervised.

“The main thing that keeps me coming back to LIVE WELL is the community,” Pham says. “The staff at LIVE WELL, as well as the members, have become friends and we all support each other.”

Brooks-Hill adds, “We really go above and beyond to create a fun, upbeat, inspiring environment.”

One significant difference in effecting real lifestyle changes is the way the program is structured. There is no drop-ins. Members commit to six months or one year. There is a 30-day, risk-free period before anyone has to make that commitment. But it is that accountability, the willingness to show up, which makes all the difference in achieving a result.

And results are all based on the individual plan and no one can predict how one’s body will respond to the program. It is not about measuring lost inches or pounds but the overall effect on one’s wellbeing.

Brooks-Hill says it’s about celebrating improved health and says they ask members to create a health vision—to understand what being healthier means to them.

LIVE WELL member Kathie Jagger had a number of health concerns and one was being able to recover well after a surgical procedure. Jagger is convinced that her commitment to the LIVE WELL program sped up her recovery.

“My life has been impacted in a positive manner. LIVE WELL has given me the discipline and motivation to keep working on my physical fitness and diet,” Jagger says.

For Bob Orlando, LIVE WELL has helped him achieve long-term success—something he had not experienced with other gym memberships. Unlike at LIVE WELL, at other gyms his motivation always waned, and the results were temporary.

“The LIVE WELL team truly cares about my success, and works with me regularly to focus my workouts on the goals that I have for my fitness and health,” Orlando explains. “[I’m] currently focused on rehabbing a minor injury, improving an imbalance in my flexibility, and training for triathlon and hockey. Also, I've been more consistent with my level of activity in the past years since joining LIVE WELL than in any other period of my life.”

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