Designing and developing a wellness center whether it is an extension of a training studio or spa or as a fitness component of a medical practice presents some challenges. Decisions such as which educational workshops to offer and which integrated health care services to promote are issues that can create problems. The decision on whether the facility should be part of a hospital, a physical therapy building, a doctor's office or as a separate fitness facility centrally located to medical and alternative care professionals needs analysis and careful consideration.
But before we consider "under one roof or not" wellness centers, we must recognize their influence on preventive care, as moving health care out of the acute hospital setting is quickly becoming a trend. According to author Joan Whaley Gallup, author of Wellness Centers: A Guide for the Design Professional, "Wellness centers are facilities that incorporate clinical and fitness components into a comprehensive health care center." This trend toward wellness is rapidly evolving as baby boomers have high expectations of living longer, healthier lives. The rise of alternative medicines as well as the mind/body approach to programming all point to the need for a change in health care. The focus now is on preventing disease.
Greg Carlson, president and CEO of Owensboro Mercy Health System in
The Beginning of Wellness Centers
Wellness centers began in the 1970s with Ken Cooper's
Choosing if the center is best "under one roof or not" depends on several factors: the center's mission and vision, the health care and fitness providers; the square footage and flexibility of the center's space, the inclusion of clinical programs; alternative, complementary, integrative therapies; the initial investment cost; and the expenses to maintain the center.
Which Model Is Best for Your Business?
The factors above can best be answered as we look at three different wellness center models. The first is a center for fitness facility owners, personal trainers and/or alternative care providers. This model is easy to facilitate and offers room for growth. The second model is a much larger, very comprehensive center often hospital- or club-based "under one roof." And the third model is spa-based and can be housed either "under one roof or not."
The first model is simple, affordable and allows for expansion. It is a collaborative model designed for health-related mind/body workshops hosted by health care, alternative care and fitness professionals. Offering a variety of on-site educational programs at the physician's or physical therapist's office, hospital, spa or fitness center can open doors to developing a more comprehensive health care center. In this model, as the demands for more alternative workshops increase, so may the need for a more fully clinically integrated system.
A more comprehensive wellness center under this model can evolve as workshops increase in size and when the joining of forces occurs. The medical community is now more dynamically involved in the integrated care; for example, physicians conduct a battery of medical tests for patients and provide ongoing medical intervention and recommended plans of action. In this way, the physicians incorporate client nutrition concerns with a personal nutrition counselor, and they also refer the patients to their fitness team for a personal, systematic progression of exercises that uniquely match the patients' health goals. Patients visit the doctor's office for initial consultations, medical tests and follow-up visits; they meet with the nutritionist at a different location; and, finally, the patients' medical information is released to the fitness team at another location. If patients need further attention from any other holistic care provider, this model through its referral system allows patients to enjoy fully integrated supervision.
Advantages and disadvantages to model one:
outsourced in a school or church or even a hospital, depending on the number in attendance for an educational workshop.
uncomplicated to manage and yet provides ongoing patient monitoring.
providers to work in an environment that can provide fitness and wellness components.
affordable. Some insurance companies and corporations are assuming partial reimbursements to patients for wellness care.
and the program itself.
The hospital-based model "under one roof" is usually attached to a hospital or part of hospital systems. The most important difference: this center's ability to obtain financing and coordinate more fully with managed care companies. Some hospital-based centers also create more than community outreach and educational programs. They have constructed multipurpose rooms adjacent to workout areas designed for rehabilitation. They have designated other areas for recreation, like swimming, ballroom dancing and social gatherings. Larger centers are including small cafes, variety stores, juice bars, computer areas, meditation rooms and gardens, pharmacies, hair salons, massage, chiropractic and holistic therapies as well as diagnostic testing, such as for radiology. Here is a wellness model in its most all-inclusive and integrated configuration. Imagine the generation of wellness care that this model produces: physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, fitness professionals and other holistic care-givers all working together as a dynamic team referring patients/clients to one another to heal the mind, body and spirit.
Advantages and disadvantages of model two:
The third model is the medical or day spa. This model can succeed either "under one roof or not." Anti-aging medicine is experiencing tremendous growth. Baby boomers want to look and feel their best. If that is so, what a perfect opportunity for a fitness professional to team up with a plastic surgeon or day spa providing fitness services in the spa or contracted out to a gym!
I partnered with a new spa for several reasons: its tranquil location, the spa's homey farmhouse building, its exceptional spa services, its guest accommodations, but, most importantly, it is adjacent to medical offices of facial, body and reconstructive surgeons. While this spa is approximately a twenty-five minute drive from my studio and the spa drawing rooms are small, we decided to offer a one-day "de-stress and rejuvenate" retreat outsourcing the fitness, nutrition and naturopathic services. Our day included a walk followed by exercises using bands, a choice of two spa services, a stress workshop, an emotional eating workshop, a session with the spa's Reiki master and a guided meditation to end the retreat.
Advantages and disadvantages of model three:
Whether a wellness center is under one roof or networked out to fitness or health care providers will depend on whether you are in an existing space, if you want to design a new center, network with health care and fitness professionals and subcontract experts, or work for a hospital- or spa-based wellness center. The best advice I can give to individuals thinking about designing and developing a wellness center is "keep it simple." Start with an uncomplicated model get involved in presenting educational workshops; then, collaborate with the medical and alternative care providers in your community. Or, contact a day or medical spa and start offering classes or participate in a day retreat. Finally, if there is a hospital-based wellness center in your area, there are opportunities for you to offer classes and personal training "under one