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The Claremont Club’s Virtual Blueprint for Inclusive Fitness

It really doesn’t take much to get Mike Alpert going. Mention people who have disabilities or have suffered chronic injuries, and the passion quickly rises to the surface. 

For Alpert, the president and CEO of The Claremont Club, in Claremont, CA, that zeal has prompted a long, ongoing struggle to include such individuals in club activities to help improve their lives.

“It’s about an opportunity to do some truly meaningful and purposeful work in our industry,” he said, his voice filling with emotion. “We—and, by we, I mean all of us club operators—have the ability to save lives. We have the facilities and the skills to do this great work. However, I’m sad to say that many of us aren’t doing so right now.”

The Need for Inclusive Fitness

“Inclusive” is a rather broad category, and includes people who have been born with physical and/or intellectual or emotional disabilities; and those who, due to accidents or other events or circumstances, have acquired them. The disciples of inclusive fitness programs believe that everyone should be able to take advantage of the services that clubs can offer.

While the number of inclusive clubs is growing, the need is clearly great.

A 2014 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that half of the 21 million Americans with disabilities don’t exercise, which further jeopardizes their health. An additional 22% of disabled adults aren’t active enough, which means that approximately half of them are more likely than their active peers to develop serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

A Virtual Blueprint for Health Clubs

If there’s an exemplar, a poster boy, for inclusive fitness in the U.S., that person might well be Alpert.

His club, a multipurpose athletic, aquatic, tennis, and social facility set on an impressive 18-acre campus, employs a staff of more than 270 to look after some 10,500 members. It could also easily serve as a virtual blueprint for clubs that want to become more inclusive.

The Claremont Club is currently treating people with spinal cord injuries (SCI), multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and those who have suffered strokes or are battling cancer.

One of the highlights of Alpert’s efforts is the Project Walk Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Centers franchise that he acquired in 2013, the first situated inside a health club. These centers, managed and operated by SCI Business Solutions, Inc., of Carlsbad, CA, help people with SCI via education, training, and intense activity-based recovery programs.

Alpert transformed a racquetball court into a 5,100-square-foot studio to accommodate the program.

 “It’s incredibly rewarding to walk through this facility every day and see the difference we’re making,” he said. “I’d encourage every club owner to think beyond the bottom line, and recognize the potential that inclusive fitness offers to create an incredibly meaningful legacy.”

Such initiatives serve critical needs, increase club utilization, drive memberships, enhance a club’s standing in the community, boost the morale of staff and current members, and—most importantly—actually improve people’s lives.

Continue reading about IHRSA members’ inclusive programs in the May issue of CBI.

Reader Comments (1)

Nice blog info, I was really appreciating the article you made telling more about this article . It's really giving me a lot of informative information and knowledge for my working web . Thank you very much for sharing it.
April 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRicko

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