New wellness center in Franklin

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pay them later ‘Wellness center’ represents the next

generation of health clubs

It’s August, and your New Year’s resolutions about getting in shape, losing weight or just getting healthier have all fallen by the wayside months ago, right?
Health clubs – jammed in January and February – are relatively empty. Let’s face it, when it’s 95 degrees outside, the thought of sweating on purpose isn’t very appealing.
But what if the club you joined actually monitors your cholesterol level as you continue on an exercise and diet program? What if the club evaluated you with staff professionals such as certified athletic trainers, kinesiologists, exercise physiologists and certified nutritionists-pharmacists, who recommend a diet and exercise program specifically designed for your fitness level?
Top it off with the fact that a medical group, Optimal Health Consultants, has its offices located inside the club and offers its services to the club’s membership.
Innovative Health and Fitness (IHF), which opened June 1, is what co-owner Tim Beyer says is "the next generation of health and fitness centers." In fact, Beyer and sales and marketing director John Kollross refer to the facility as a wellness center, not a health club, emphasizing the fact that Innovative Health and Fitness is medically based.
The 52,000-square-foot center at 8800 S. 102nd St. in Franklin, just west of Highway 100 near Loomis Road/Highway 36, was designed by Zimmerman Design Group of Wauwatosa and built by Mark Carstensen Construction of Franklin.
Beyer said one of IHF’s goals was to attract "the 80% to 90% of people who normally wouldn’t join a health club," so Zimmerman architect John Sabinash and the other project architects tried to make the space as inviting as possible.
In fact, many prospective members have commented that the entrance area and the adjacent strength training area look like a resort, not a typical health club, according to Kollross.
"We used more of a relaxed color scheme," Sabinash said of the interior. "It’s more of a subdued palette, so it’s relaxing in its theme.
"In terms of orientation, there was thought given to how people would use the building to facilitate them having access to the spaces in as convenient of a way as possible," Sabinash said. "Those spaces where there would be rigorous activities would be separated from the spaces that weren’t as active."

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Logical layout
He joked that the cardiovascular equipment and workout studios are all located on the second floor, requiring members to climb the stairs as part of their workouts. The strength-training equipment, featuring South Milwaukee-based Magnum Fitness Systems weight machines, Keiser air pressure machines and Pilates equipment, is adjacent to the free-weight room.
In a typical free-weight room, it’s not unusual to hear heavy-metal music blaring as the weight lifters pump iron, but at IHF, the music from the free-weight area is virtually inaudible two feet outside of the area. The designers of the center didn’t want to intimidate anyone, so they found a way to pipe in the music without having it overwhelm the members using the nearby strength-training equipment.
The IHF features two massage rooms and several family locker rooms/changing areas.

Posh pools
One of the most impressive areas of the building is the poolroom. Surrounded by cedar, the room contains three different pools, each serving a unique function: a 25-meter lap pool; a 15-person whirlpool; and a large, warm-water therapy pool used for rehab and water exercise classes.
Large windows in the poolroom provide views of the man-made pond outside and help save on lighting costs.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the poolroom is that you can smell the cedar, or more specifically, you aren’t overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine in the air, because an automated system monitors the activity level in the pools. When usage is low, the chlorine levels drop; when activity increases, chlorine is added.
The building, which is mainly constructed of glass and blocks, also has systems in place to use excess heat collected from the building to heat the pool, and an HVAC system that recycles heated or cooled air to cut down on costs.
"Because of the number of exchanges required because of the activity level of the building, it made economic sense to try to recover those dollars before they left the building in terms of exhaust," Sabinash said.
Basic monthly membership fees at the center range from $49 for students to $118 for a family. IHF is negotiating contracts with various insurance companies to enable its customers to be reimbursed for some of their costs. The center also is marketing to companies, whose employees can receive discounts for multiple enrollments.
Beyer, along with partners Scott Cole and John Crowe, is confident IHF’s medically based approach will catch on, and points to the 875 members as proof that it has. Beyer is hoping people are willing to spend a little more on themselves, even in a down economy, as health insurance premiums and co-payments continue skyrocket.
"The responsibility is really put back onto the patient now," Beyer said. "So, we look at it like, you can either pay for your health care up front by taking care of yourself, getting on a regular exercise program and eating correctly, or you can pay for it on the back end where if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re going to run into injury and illness."

Aug. 16, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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