Health education at Virginia Hospital Center (Courtesy of Virginia Hospital Center)
Cathy Turner, director of health promotion and senior health at Virginia Hospital Center, states: “It is the belief of the health promotion department and the hospital that our role in the community is to provide a continuum of care. We want to help people stay healthy, treat them if they get sick and then help them with their recovery process.”
Many of Virginia Hospital Center’s programs are designed for specific target audiences, like pre- and postnatal, bariatric and senior programs, but the hospital also offers yoga, body sculpting, core workouts and other general gym classes. “For the general fitness classes, our average age tends to run higher than a gym,” Turner says. “I think people have a certain comfort level in taking a class run through the hospital. I do know that many of our participants have been taking the same class for 10 or more years.”
Virginia Hospital Center class member Barb Nash found this to be true. “After I retired, I was looking for an exercise program because I knew I wouldn’t be exercising on my own at home,” Nash says. “I needed a more social setting, [but] I certainly didn’t look like and couldn’t keep up with the perfect bodies at the local sports club. In Virginia Hospital Center classes, you work at your own pace. This was just right for me, and I’ve been in the class for 14 years.”
Mary Spatz and Gail Bissi, who also attend Virginia Hospital Center fitness classes, agree. When Spatz was looking for a fitness program, she had “several friends who started taking exercise classes at various places and ended up hurting themselves. But I figured that if I was taking classes through the hospital, I would get good instruction and would not be asked to do something that would be harmful.” Similarly, Bissi wasn’t comfortable at a gym “full of younger and slimmer clients” but started going to Virginia Hospital Center classes slowly and since has progressed to taking classes five days a week.
Bissi also mentions the camaraderie felt by the students in Virginia Hospital Center’s classes. “There is a bonding friendship that forms with your instructor and fellow classmates when you are in regularly scheduled classes,” Bissi says. “If no one is looking for me at the gym, I probably would often find an excuse as to why I couldn’t go, but if your friends are calling you out because you were absent, you tend to not skip your class.”