Fit for All: Inside Magee’s Health & Wellness Center

We all know exercise is important. We’ve heard about the benefits, from strengthening bones and muscles to weight control to reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. But for many adults, exercise still is not a part of our daily routine.

So if we know the benefits, what’s stopping us?

Nurse practitioner Chris Taylor has an idea.

“Can you imagine me at a regular gym?” she said, while a member of the staff helps her stretch out the muscles in her hand before her workout. “Magee’s Health and Wellness Center is different.”

Wellness Center 1

Chris works out on equipment in the Health & Wellness Center

Chris first came to Magee in early 2012 after sustaining a spinal cord injury. Prior to her injury, she had been active—very active. Bikram yoga, cardio, weight training—even tandem bicycling—you name it, she had tried it. After she completed therapy at Magee, she was desperate to get back to this lifestyle, but knew she would have to do things a little differently.

“My body works differently that it did before my injury,” she said. “I was too uncomfortable to go to a regular gym. I needed a transition from therapy to where I was before.”

That’s the idea behind Magee’s Health and Wellness Center at the Riverfront Outpatient Center. Open to the community, the Wellness Center offers programs geared toward promoting healthy and active lifestyles for both able-bodied individuals and those with disabilities.

The gym can be an intimidating place, especially for someone with a physical limitation. At Magee, we know there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to wellness. And that’s why we’re here.

Like traditional gyms, Magee’s Wellness Center offers flexible hours, degrees of membership, diverse variety of equipment for both aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening, and even yoga classes. But that’s where the similarities end.

One of the biggest differences between the Wellness Center and traditional gyms is obvious from the moment you come in the door: the equipment. Sure, there are the traditional treadmills, ellipticals, free weights and bikes—but there is also more specialized equipment, such as a bike with electrical stimulation, a multi-trainer that uses resistance bands instead of weights, and MOTOmed movement therapy. This equipment can be used by both able-bodied individuals and people with disabilities, and most pieces are also wheelchair accessible—meaning gym-goers don’t need to transfer out of their chairs to get a good workout.

For Chris, one of the major benefits of the Wellness Center over traditional gyms is the level of support.

“While working out at the Wellness Center, I have access to a physical therapy aide who assists me with all my exercises. She has direct access to PTs and OTs at all times,” she said. “They understand how my body works and can suggest different exercises that are compatible with my physical limitations. I definitely couldn’t get that at my regular gym.

And this VIP treatment isn’t just for Chris—it’s for everyone that comes in the door.

Wellness Center 4

Chris works with a therapist to prepare her hands, which have been damaged due to her spinal cord injury.

Before joining, every member meets with a physical therapist to talk about their health and fitness goals. The therapist creates a plan for you, shows you how to use the equipment, and provides advice and support along the way. Even if you have never exercised before, don’t worry—we’ll show you how to work out effectively and safely.

Since joining the Wellness Center, Chris has been able to meet many of her fitness goals—and get back to what she loves.

“Several months ago while in therapy, I was lamenting how I missed riding my tandem bike with my husband, and my therapist asked me to bring it in—the Wellness Center team wanted to see us in action,” she said, laughing. “They helped me on, gave me tips on balance, and were close by the whole time to make sure I was doing okay. And we rode that bike all through the building. That’s the thing about this group. They don’t just want you to exercise—they want you to do what you love.”

Monthly memberships to the Magee Health and Wellness Center begin at $50. To learn more, please call (215) 218-3900.

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  • Mike DePetris

    Riverfront Wellness Center was a great option for me. It gave me the confidence to direct my own routine in the friendly and helpful confines of Riverfront gym. My PT ad OT’s gave me plenty of exercises to consider and friendly aides like Jess (pictured above) were always around to spot me or help with setups. For me there came a time to graduate to regular gym closer to my everyday routine. I don’t think I would have felt as safe in a regular gym as fast as I did had I not had the Wellness Center to transition me away from of the outpatient therapies. The therapists, aides, management and staff at Magee’s Riverfront facility are the absolute best! Life changers.

    PS – Hello Chris T. – miss you!

  • Magee Rehabilitation

    Thanks for the comment, Mike! And that’s a great point – the Health & Wellness Center can also serve as a transition from outpatient therapy to a traditional gym. It’s great preparation.