5 N.H. health clubs ‘Commit’ to wellness program

Several New Hampshire health clubs have teamed with the goal of providing Granite Staters with a new wellness program that backers say can make participants more healthy in just 90 days.Five health clubs – Hampshire Hills in Milford, Salem Athletic Club, Seacoast Sports Clubs, Laconia Athletic & Swim Club, and Executive Health & Sports Center in Manchester – are collaborating on the 90-Day Commit to Get Fit wellness program, a comprehensive set of programs offering fitness training, nutrition education, stress management and a number of other services with the goal of improving overall health and wellness.Member clubs said that 54 participants in a three-month pilot lost an average of 15 pounds, decreased their body fat by 5 percent, and lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol among a number of other positive metrics.Participants also are assigned a wellness coach to help them learn and adapt to a new, healthier lifestyle, increasing the odds for success.Mike Benton of Manchester’s Executive Health & Sports Center said the program also give companies struggling with the ability to offer wellness benefits the opportunity to do so with little to no cost.”It could actually save them money because they don’t have to spend the time and resources creating their own program,” he said.Potential participants do not need to be existing members of one of the clubs, however, there is a discount if they are.Currently, non-members pay an up-front fee of $575 and members $425 for the program, with a four-week, money-back guarantee.”Participants get two assessments with complete blood work, a 14-page report based on their health-risk assessment, and individual meetings with a wellness coach,” said Benton.To further differentiate the program from others, individual information is available online through a secure Web portal that will be available mid-March.By the summer, Benton said they also hope to offer an app for smartphones.”We don’t sell meals — it’s all education; how to grocery-shop, full meal plans and recipes, how to properly warm up before exercising, stress management techniques,” said Benton.The fact that a participant’s results are private is actually a strong selling point, Benton said, since many employees are reticent to join a wellness program sponsored by their employer or insurance company in the belief that somehow their results will be used against them.”We operate outside of the employer or the insurer, if you will,” said Benton, “so there’s no concern that information will be shared.”Program participants aren’t the only ones who reap positive rewards from the program. The network health clubs also receive benefits. In a down economy, discretionary items like gym memberships often go by the wayside.As competitors to some degree, the clubs said they feel the program was a real win-win for all parties.”As individual businesses, we have the opportunity to make a small impact in our communities, but together we can reach the employer base,” said Benton. “This is our attempt to create a ‘virtual network’ by pulling multiple players together and leveraging our resources while attacking the number one health problem facing the country – obesity. If we can make people healthier, it’s less costly for them and their employers.” — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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