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Wellness Center has key to clients' exercise

April 08, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - As Sue Nagley works up a brisk pace on the treadmill, a "smart key" in the machine records her every move.

The key records the amount of time she spends on the treadmill and whether it meets the requirements of her fitness program.

The key transfers the information to a computer file, which her health fitness instructor reviews with her to make sure she is following the correct regimen.

The "techno gym" at City Hospital's new Wellness Center is one of only a handful being used at hospitals across the country, said Kevin McKannan, health fitness instructor.

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It's the latest in exercise design meant to make working out an interactive, and even fun experience.

When people join the hospital's Wellness Center, they are required to fill out a health history questionnaire and be tested for heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, McKannan said.

After the information is entered into a computer, it is loaded onto the person's "smart key."

To begin exercising, the person inserts the key into a computer kiosk in the center of the room and up pops their workout instructions. At every exercise machine, the key is plugged into a slot where it records everything that happens and loads that into the person's computer file, McKannan said.

Every three months, McKannan and two other full-time fitness instructors meet with each person to see how they are doing with their exercise program.

Nagley said she likes coming to the Wellness Center to exercise because she knows one of the fitness instructors is always available to help her with questions about her workout or to give her workout advice.

"I think it's the staff that makes the program," she said.

Still a little bored with the whole idea?

How about comparing your progress to a New York City Marathon runner?

The computer kiosk keeps track of your distance on the treadmill and translates it to how far you would make it in the long distance race.

Just plug the smart key into the computer kiosk and you can track your progress as you pass landmarks in the New York City Marathon such as Verrazzano Bridge, Lafayette Avenue and up to Queens.

Or, you can touch another icon on the screen and test your progress in the Tour De France.

"It's very interactional. It gives you something to play around with," McKannan said.

There are other high-tech gadgets to help people get the most out of exercise.

For people who need to have their heart rate controlled, a strap placed around their torso area monitors their heart rate and notifies fitness instructors if it exceeds a certain level.

McKannan estimates that about a third of the wellness center's members are patients, such as heart patients, referred to the center for an exercise program.

The center, in the new Dorothy McCormack Cancer Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, opens at 5:30 a.m. There are usually about 25 people waiting to slip in their exercise program before going to work, McKannan said.

He said local employers are starting to realize the importance of having healthy workers.

Capitol Cement in Martinsburg, for example, recently signed an agreement with the center to allow 200 of its employees to exercise there.

"People are still learning about it. It's still relatively new in the community," McKannan said.

Rates range from $26, which allows exercising between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., to $35 per month per person for the flagship membership, which allows them to exercise at any time. There is also a $75 enrollment fee.

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