Embracing Medical Fitness Programming at a Municipality-Owned Center

In 2001 a Chicago area community hospital opened a 78,000 square-foot fitness center (“Center”). It featured an outpatient physical therapy clinic, gymnasium, strength-training and cardio fitness floor, two pools, group exercise studios, and locker rooms. The Center and the hospital are in a Chicago suburb whose Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for over 690 parks, an Aquatic Center and a Sports Facility. As a result of medical fitness programming, physician oversight, health outcomes and other measurements, the Center originally received Certified Facility recognition by the Medical Fitness Association in 2014.


In 2015 the local Community Hospital requested permission from the state Department of Public Health Certificate of Need Board to close the Center for development of an ambulatory care center. As a result of significant pressure from the community and a vocal contingency of people living with Multiple Sclerosis, the municipality exchanged a vacant site for the Center with the local Community Hospital.



Parks and Recreation Departments usually self-manage their public recreation assets, including fitness centers. This ensures they fulfill their mission to enhance the quality of life for the residents they serve, promoting community health and well-being through quality recreational programming. The Parks and Recreation Director for the municipality noted: “We always want to serve our community in the highest, best level we can. The Center’s medically integrated approach is pretty significant. It gives our municipality confidence in case anything happens there’s qualified staff to help; staff to guide people along their paths to good health.” While over 80% of the Sports Facility members are municipality residents, approximately 60% of Center members are municipality residents. As a result of the purchase and management transition, the Center increased utilization from just over 3,300 members in 2017, prior to municipality ownership to nearly 4,000 members in 2019. This represents a 16% increase. Recognizing the Center’s unique focus on medical fitness and significant non-resident draw, the Department selected Power Wellness Management, LLC (Power Wellness) as a strategic partner to manage operations. The Center is a benefit to local residents and adjacent communities.



The Center’s full range of traditional and medical fitness programming has had a positive impact on participants’ quality of life. Through the integration of health education, health assessment technology, and targeted programming, the Center supports a wide variety of community wellness needs. The Center Director agrees: “The Center gives the municipality something they did not really have, another avenue to serve area residents with a holistic approach to health and recreation.” The Parks and Recreation Director also noted how efficiently Power Wellness makes it for the Department to serve the community: “Power Wellness transparently handles everything…one of the nice things about the contractual relationship is I don’t have day-to-day worries. The highly qualified staff acts on our behalf. It’s pretty seamless – outsiders don’t know that the people at the Center don’t work for the municipality. They make the municipality look good.” In addition to a special population programs supporting individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and diabetes, Power Wellness deployed MyFitRx® a prescriptive fitness program requiring a physician referral. MyFitRx® features 10 pathways for individuals living with chronic conditions or preparing for life changing events, such as arthroplasty. Program interest has grown organically through positive health outcomes. As a result, in 2018 the Center was awarded the Medical Fitness Association’s “Facility of the Year” award for medical fitness excellence.


Many municipality-owned recreation and fitness centers have observed declining utilization and membership. As a result, many of these facilities require on-going financial support from local taxes or municipal funds. The deterioration is not typically the result of physical maintenance, but a lack of focus in a mature fitness environment with sophisticated national commercial gym franchises. Medical fitness programming, along with improved customer service and member engagement strategies, can be a solution to reverse negative trends. As an institutional fitness management leader, Power Wellness understands the opportunities unique to medical fitness centers. Power Wellness has the expertise and resources to guide municipalities through a strategic process resulting in similar results to this municipality. In addition to being the only HIPAA-compliant institutional fitness management company, Power Wellness has proprietary technology that integrates with local providers’ electronic health records systems, to bilaterally share referrals and outcomes.

Contact Power Wellness at 630.785.5180 to bring Medical Integration to your facility or to discuss our propriety Operational Assessment services, which evaluate whether Medical Integration is right for your municipality.