Redefining ‘Health’ Redefines Clubs

Everyone knows that if you stand still the world will pass you by. Yet some successful entrepreneurs have not needed to run to keep up with the world; just a shrewd sidestep into a main current positioned them to be swept on to success.

Health is one of today’s main currents, as it almost always has been. While “health” clubs seem suited to be in the middle of this stream, many are not. The reason seems to be in history. Guess when this statement was written by a famous physician:

Eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise, while possessing opposite qualities, yet work together to produce health. For it is the nature of exercise to use up material, but of food and drink to make good deficiencies. And it is necessary, as it appears, to discern the power of various exercises, both natural exercises and artificial, to know which of them tends to increases flesh and which to lessen it; and not only this, but also to proportion exercise to bulk of food, to the constitution of the patient, to the age of the individual, to the season of the year, to the changes in the winds, to the situation of the region in which the patient resides, and to the constitution of the year.

Congratulate yourself if you guessed about 400 B.C. The author is Hippocrates. In his ancient scholarly observation and writing, medicine and exercise were inseparable.

Somehow, in the 20th century, the health dealt with by the health club and that dealt with by medicine became separate. Scientific medicine hypothesized, tested and proved or probabilitized medicines and clinical procedures that “miraculously” made sick people better. It shouldn’t be too surprising that the emphasis of the medical profession became focused on the tools at hand, to the detriment of those factors that the patients had control of and that doctors could only nag them about.

Scientific exercise developed later (not in the mainstream of the medical field), and is only recently being fully respected and integrated with medical research (the American College of Sports Medicine helped this along by putting researching biologists, phys. ed. professors and doctors together).

I believe that the ultimate getting together of the exercise and medicine fields will not be in either exercise or medicine, but in science and professionalism.

Health clubs will benefit, with substantial benefits only to those clubs that first adopt scientific and professional approaches, rather than purely marketing and commercial tactics.

Although we’ve been dealing with medical-fitness issues in these pages for 14 years, this February issue is probably the strongest presentation of scientific and professional approaches that clubs can take for the health of their clients. Articles cover health screening, serving the disabled, post-rehab services and applying the psychological benefits of exercise to keep people active.