It’s been open for less than a year, but a new exercise clinic in The Tri-Cities is already changing the lives of local residents. This is no ordinary gym however. In fact, LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic likes to describe itself as the “anti-gym,” a place where how you feel is more important than how you look and where people get a lot of support to achieve their goals.
LIVE WELL is a medical fitness clinic that’s built on the belief that exercise is medicine. Specializing in safe, supervised exercise and healthy-lifestyle coaching for people who have chronic health conditions or want to prevent them; it helps its members make sustainable changes to their lifestyle to live healthier and happier lives.
Members come to LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic for many different reasons, whether to lose weight, lower cholesterol, have more energy, combat stress or to continue playing tennis until they’re 80 years old.
So how is it doing? We asked three local residents to tell us how LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic has changed their lives.
“Keeping active to stay as healthy as possible is key to my independence and quality of life.”
Elizabeth from Coquitlam has a chronic lung condition, and knows that exercise plays a key role in her independence and quality of life.
“Exercising is especially difficult during the winter months when it is more difficult to get outside,” she explains. “Other programs have given me little direct support and everyone followed the same routines.”
Aged 80, Elizabeth joined LIVE WELL in January. “The staff made me feel very welcome and they were always happy to explain an exercise in an encouraging way. I also liked that newcomers were introduced to the group and we were given pep talks on eating and attitudes to health, as well as health tips. The attitude in the small group was positive and friendly and people were cheered for wins they made, however small they might seem to others.”
After just a few weeks Elizabeth started to feel the difference in herself, but alongside the improved fitness she has also appreciated the clinical aspect of LIVE WELL services.
Personalized expertise and support are key aspects of LIVE WELL. The clinics are staffed by clinical exercise physiologists and kinesiologists. Experts in their field, the team create personalized plans specifically tailored to each member’s needs. They also monitor vitals during sessions and work closely with members’ doctors to create plans that are geared towards improving their health, something that is key for someone like Elizabeth.
“Some days it is really hard to get myself to the class but I always feel relaxed and energized afterwards. It is a comfort to me to get regular checks on blood pressure and blood oxygen levels and to have the really great young staffers monitoring to see that the exercises are performed correctly. I also like the regular reviews of performance and the sense this gives of moving towards better fitness.”
“We are at different levels of fitness, but because our workouts are personalized, we can work out together.”
"In January, I had a health scare which ended up with a trip to the ER. I knew that I needed to do something to improve my health,” explains Karen.
“I had wanted to get in better shape, and had tried traditional gyms, but I've never been an athletic type person, and gyms intimidated me. I'd go there and just not know what to do. I had thought about getting a personal trainer, but, again, the thought intimidated me… plus, with my health issues, I didn't think a trainer would really understand my needs.”
In need of a solution that fitted her unique needs Karen signed up for LIVE WELL along with her fiancé Don,and says that being able to work out together has been a huge part of the positive experience she has had so far.
Karen and Don are not alone. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for members to enter the program as a couple or with a friend, and whether it’s someone you already know or a friend you make by joining, it’s just part of the support network that’s built into the LIVE WEL community.
“The staff is amazing. They check in with me every time I come to work out, and you can tell they really care,” Karen explains. “They do a great job of making me feel welcome and like I belong there. They encourage me, celebrate my successes, and help me when I'm feeling discouraged. The best part is the ways they check in with me to see how the exercise program they've designed for me is working, and tweak it to keep me moving forward.”
Like all LIVE WELL members Karen has had her workouts specifically designed to suit her unique health and fitness needs. Taking into account her abilities and limitations, her routines are constantly evolving to keep up with her changing health.
And after just a few months Karen is already enjoying the benefits.
“The big thing I've noticed is the improvement to my mood. I've been dealing with chronic mental health issues for over 20 years, and I finally feel like I've got it under control. My energy levels have increased, I'm more flexible and my balance has improved,” she says. “The biggest change, however, has been in my mindset. For the first time in my life, I feel like I deserve to be healthy! My self-confidence has improved immensely.”
“LIVE WELL has shown me how strong I really am and what this body of mine can do.”
We’ve all signed up for a gym with the very best of intentions, only for our best laid plans to fall by the wayside. It can be even tougher for people with health issues, many of whom avoid exercise - often for very good reasons. LIVE WELL understands this, and knows how easy it is for exercise to fall to the bottom of your to-do list.
“My biggest challenges with exercise are sticking to a program and just getting myself to the gym,” explains Diana from Port Coquitlam. “At LIVE WELL I have a session time reserved for me, which encourages me to attend consistently. This has helped me stick to the program for over six months. It has reminded me how important it is to take self-care seriously and just how much I do enjoy exercising!”
All of the LIVE WELL members that we spoke to talked about how important the community aspect of the experience was to them, and for Diane it was one of the biggest reasons why she has kept up with her exercise regimen.
“There is nothing like it,” she says. “Anyone can sign up and go to a gym, but the gym does not provide nearly the same amount of support. At LIVE WELL you are not just a number, you matter. I have never felt that what I do matters as much as I have in this clinic. They make me feel like we are a family, working towards the same goal. Together, we are a team.”
It’s not just exercise that Diana is benefiting from either. As part of their clinically-focussed approach to wellness LIVE WELL also offers advice on healthy eating, with on-site health coaches helping members to understand the role that nutrition can play in a healthy lifestyle.
“I am getting the exercise I need and learning about simple tips for eating healthy,” explains Diana. "We talk about common nutrition mistakes and solutions to these mistakes, as well as portion sizes. It is always great information to take home with you. LIVE WELL is a community of like-minded individuals who all present with nutritional challenges, but we as a team of members support each other through sharing recipes and suggestions to better our habits and it is amazing to see how LIVE WELL has positively changed my relationship with food.”
If you are trying to lose weight, reduce your cholesterol, decrease your blood pressure, or just want to get healthier LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic can help. LIVE WELL specializes in supervised exercise and healthy lifestyle-coaching specifically tailored to each member’s unique needs with a focus on overall health and well-being.
With clinics throughout BC, including right here in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, LIVE WELL’s evidence-based programs are ideal for those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity and for anyone who wants to improve their general wellness. To find out more about LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic and whether it could benefit you visit www.livewellclinic.ca/whylivewell to learn more about our powerful exercise and health-coaching programs or call 604.245.2120.