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Exercise as medicine: medical fitness clinic opens in Regina

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A new medical clinic in Regina is prescribing fitness to combat chronic health problems.

SPARKS METHOD, a medical fitness clinic, opened its doors in Regina on Sept. 9. Its goal is to use exercise and healthy lifestyle coaching to help clients manage and prevent chronic diseases.

In the company, there are over 20 clinics known as LIVE WELL exercise clinics across Canada. Located at 1804 9th Ave. N., SPARKS METHOD is the city’s first medical fitness clinic catering predominately to the baby boomer generation and the changes that come with aging.

“That’s the age group where doctors start telling you, your blood pressure is maybe climbing up, maybe your cholesterol is raising.  People start getting less concerned about exercising for aesthetics and are really more focused on how can I use exercise to as a medicine to help me get healthier and live a fuller life”, said Tasha McRae, SPARKS METHOD’s director of talent and culture.

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From just a glance, the clinic looks like a typical gym with cardio equipment and weights that fill the room. However, instead of personal trainers, the clinic’s team is made up of certified clinical exercise physiologists who work individually with the clients.

They tailor programs specifically for a client’s needs. During the workout sessions, the healthcare professionals monitor the client’s blood pressure, heart rate and other vital signs to ensure safety.

“There is a need in the community for a place where people can exercise without the fear of judgement or injury,” said Brenda Yungwirth, owner of SPARKS METHOD Regina North.

Every member is paired with one-on-one with a staff member for health coaching outside of their session. The clinic works on a membership basis with a maximum of 12 clients per gym session and 300 members per location.

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“We are partnering with community physicians to communicate progress and symptoms that come up so that the patients can get the very best care,” said McRae.

Ann Done has attended over six hundred sessions at the Live Well Exercise Clinic in White Rock, B.C. She said she was referred to the clinic by her doctor because she was pre-diabetic.

“When I started with SPARKS METHOD I had set times each week and it’s like making a medical appointment.  You keep it and within about a year you’re learning to love exercise and what it brings to your life,” she said.

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Sara Hodson, founder of CEO of LIVING WELL and SPARKS METHOD said, “using exercise as a form of medicine is a powerful tool to improve health and ease the burden on our healthcare system by lowering medical costs. As I always say, if exercise were a pill, it would be the most widely-prescribed drug in the world.”