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The four people we interviewed for this article all have different lifestyles, interests and health concerns. But they all have one thing in common: they love going to LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic.
Here’s why they decided to start the program, and why they continue to attend multiple times a week.
Linda MacWilliam is coming up to 70 years old, and has been living in Kelowna since 1980. She started going to LIVE WELL after they opened in November 2018.
“I happened to see LIVE WELL’s article on Facebook, and it fit right into my plans, so that’s why I started,” said MacWilliam. “They’re my medicine.”
As a diabetic, incorporating regular exercise into her routine is very important to Linda.
“I've kept my A1c numbers down, my blood sugars are down, everything is normal now. And without the exercises, they wouldn't be,” said MacWilliam.
But it’s not just about the exercise — it’s about the personal care, expertise and support that she receives at LIVE WELL. The classes are scheduled, with no more than 12 members per session. Clinical exercise physiologists, many of which are also certified kinesiologists, customize exercise plans for each member, review them regularly, and offer one-on-one care during exercise sessions.
They also monitor vitals throughout the sessions, such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and work with members’ doctors to create effective health plans and even reduce medications. This is especially important for someone with a chronic health condition, like Linda.
“You go to a gym and you don’t get that kind of personal attention. They’re trained differently so they’re looking out for all these different medications,” said MacWilliam. “There are all kinds of reasons why people are there, for one health reason or another, and the staff are so well trained that they look out for these things. It’s the personal feeling that you get when they’re looking after you — they’re there to help you as an individual.”
Because you tend to see the same people in your sessions week after week, there’s also a sense of community that forms.
“We're all doing our own different exercises for our own needs. And while doing it, we're encouraging each other,” said MacWilliam. “You don’t feel intimidated at all.”
“LIVE WELL fits in with the budget, it fits in with time, the people there are so friendly and the instructors are so well informed and educated in what they do. And it's a lot of fun,” said MacWilliam. “If somebody wants to get on the bandwagon and look after themselves, this is the biggest start. And it's once you start going, and you go on a regular basis, then other things will fall into place.”
Lynda and Terry Diduck, 66 and 67, have been together for 45 years. They’ve spent the last four living in Kelowna, and traveling when they can. The Diducks knew they wanted to get into better shape, but because of their medical histories (heart attack, stroke, knee replacement, hip surgeries, osteo-arthritis) and negative past gym experiences, they weren’t sure where to get the support they needed.
“After meeting with Cameron and learning that our program would be designed to our specific needs, we knew we had come to the right place,” said the Diducks. “The program is run by exercise physiologists, two per class, and class sizes are limited which allows for lots of individual attention and support for correct exercise technique. We feel supported and not pushed.”
The Diducks enjoy traveling, so the flexibility of the program is important to them.
“We really appreciate being able to design our schedule according to our needs,” said the Diducks. “If we are away for an extended period of time, we can make up this time by adding it onto the length of our original program.”
On top of the flexible schedule, the pair enjoys the fun atmosphere and extra activities that are often offered as part of the program.
“The exercise physiologists are inspiring, enthusiastic and very supportive. As a result, the atmosphere is very positive and each class is a lot of fun,” said the Diducks. “We always look forward to seeing our classmates as well as the wonderful staff.”
“Occasionally, we are invited to take part in learning a basic dance and circuit activities which expand our repertoire of exercises,” added the Diducks. “In the past, a dietician has done an evening presentation.”
It’s not uncommon for members to enter the program as a couple or with a friend. Sometimes, having someone you know there with you is just the support you need to try something new and stick with it.
“We are as different as can be and we both have very different interests,” said the Diducks. “Going to LIVE WELL together though, allows us to spend time together and at the same time, our different physical needs are met.”
The Diducks have noticed several positive changes since starting at LIVE WELL.
“We feel energized and are in better physical shape. We are more committed to achieving the goals we set,” said the Diducks. “We are becoming more aware of diet, exercise, sleep and more through the educational component of each class.”
Joan Smith, who is 68 and has lived in Kelowna for over eight years, started attending LIVE WELL in November after visiting the clinic with a friend who was interested in the program.
“I went along with her and as I was sitting there listening to Cameron talk to her about what she could gain from there, I realized that wow… this is what I need. This is exactly what I need,” said Smith. “And I ended up joining and starting then.”
Smith, who was anticipating a knee replacement surgery in the next couple of months, knew that it was important to start strengthening her knee right away.
“But when I went to other gyms and places like that, I never stayed because I always felt conspicuous, out of place, not good — I just never felt comfortable,” said Smith. “When I started at LIVE WELL, with a small group, the same people and an appointment time, I thought that would be a benefit to me because it provided some structure that I needed. So I started going, started strengthening my knee and started feeling better about all sorts of things.”
“I felt better about myself, and started to get to know some people,” added Smith. “I was feeling a little isolated and I started to get to know some people a little bit and really looking forward to going.”
While she originally started going to LIVE WELL to strengthen her knee for surgery, Smith knew she would be back at LIVE WELL once her surgery and physio were complete.
“I knew back in November that I would transition back because they are trained exercise physiologists, trained in sports medicine, trained in sports exercise and rehab exercise. And I knew that I would get the attention that I would want to rehab well if I went there. I wouldn't get it other places,” said Smith. “And I wouldn't have the other benefits — I wouldn't have people happy to see me when I walked in there in the morning and wondering how I've been and things like that. There's a whole social element that I need — a sense of community, a sense of belonging.”
The social element of LIVE WELL has been especially important for Smith.
“We think about this whole program as being something for medical exercise, and when we think medical exercise we think of heart problems, diabetes, obesity, these kinds of things. But for me, I suffer from chronic depression, and I isolate, and get lonely, and I know that's not good,” said Smith. “I started to realize that that sense of community is extremely valuable to me. Because it helps me to get out of the house and as I'm aging, that's so important.”
“My body is getting stronger, my knee is doing really well, and I'm a little bit more motivated to do other things in the day,” said Smith. “I'm a little bit happier. I'm stronger in body, stronger in mind, stronger in full.”
“If you’ve been to other places and you’ve never stuck, and if you feel like you need healthy exercise and healthy living coaching in your life, then this is the place,” said Smith. “This is a very unique, very good program.”
LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic is a medical fitness clinic that specializes in supervised exercise and healthy lifestyle coaching. LIVE WELL's evidence-based programs are ideal for those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and for prevention. LIVE WELL has clinics throughout B.C. and Ontario, and now right here in Kelowna.
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