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Hyman wants fitness clubs to be the community health centres of the future


well as limiting access to harmful foods in schools and across society as a whole – processed food, for example. We have to educate consumers, to train more doctors to deliver functional medicine. “We’re also lobbying for insurance companies to reimburse alternative medicine, because we need to pay for results, for what works. We need to pay for lifestyle treatment of chronic disease, and right now we’re not doing that.”


A NEW GYM MODEL “Ultimately we need to get away from the one-to-one approach to healthcare that we see in doctors’ surgeries, and instead reach people in their tens of millions, in environments where they live, work, play and pray. That includes churches, health clubs and so on. Those will be the healthcare centres of the future, and we need to encourage them to be more proactive – to


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help them reinvent themselves to deliver community-based health leadership. “Health clubs helping to change the conversation by focusing not just on fitness but also on nutrition,” says Hyman. “My vision would be for fitness centres to act as community centres, with fitness instructors becoming more like health advocates, engaging members in group education. “If I were a health club operator, I’d build on the community customer base I already have, getting people engaged in small groups for fitness and nutritional lifestyle programming, as well as education. I’d look at introducing things like my 12-week lifestyle course. Any life skills that members need could also be offered – cooking classes and so on. Anything to encourage people towards a healthy lifestyle. “It’s a logical extension for health clubs, but I don’t think the opportunity has been fully leveraged. These are the sorts of


Community support creates lifestyle change


things that can turn gyms into community centres, making them the new hospitals in a sense – places where disease is addressed directly and aggressively. “I’ve had a number of conversations with doctors who simply don’t know what to do about lifestyle disease. Their approach doesn’t work and they don’t have anywhere to refer patients. They want a system that offers credible lifestyle education, so we have a huge opportunity. Hyman concludes: “I see lifestyle disease as needless suffering, but it’s a solvable problem and we know the solution. That’s what drives me. I’d like to see everyone working together to claim back our health.” l


From Health Club Management August 2012, p32


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