Ellie and Dan Hagan, owners of Linwood's Body in Balance Physical Therapy and Fitness Center, wish to bring the old YMCA style of health and fitness to the neighborhood, and, last weekend, they opened the doors to the community to show how they plan to do it.
Ellie, the mastermind behind the center, worked for 12 years as a physical therapist in outpatient and home care. But she always knew she wanted to broaden her work.
After convincing her husband of its potential for success, the two opened the center, which specializes in physical therapies for orthopedic injuries, in January.
"I knew that most physical therapy patients do not continue with their home-exercise program, despite therapists educating them on the importance of maintaining their functional independence with exercise. Offering a fitness center as a safe and supervised health maintenance program was a part of their wellness that was missing," Hagan said.
Along with her group of professional trainers, and with the support of her husband, Hagan is working to fill this void. And the facility has room to grow.
As SoJo104.9's Tom Morgan did a live remote from outside the 314 Central Ave. location, Hagan's staff greeted people of all ages and ability on that recent morning of music, food and, more importantly, exercise.
Visitors filled the rooms to sample fitness programs such as chair Zumba and yoga, tai chi, and strengthening stretching.
Potential members moved in and out of the numerous stations, learning and experiencing the possibilities of aromatherapy healing, reflexology and more.
Certified reflexologist Patty Nugent explained the misconception that often goes along with her practice.
"It's not just a foot massage," Nugent explained as she used a "finger walking" technique on a willing visitor's foot.
In reflexology, zones and reflex areas in the feet and hands are massaged in a particular way in order to promote relaxation through the entire body, she said.
"It creates an environment for healing," she said.
And Body in Balance is moving beyond the older population to include children with its Kids R Kick'n program, which will begin Nov. 8. The program, designed for ages 8-12, works in partnership with Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative to end childhood obesity, Hagan said.
"We are growing, and with that growth we need to address the health of everyone in our community," the owner said. "This includes our children. … (We) want to join forces with our community and offer a kids' program that will help promote exercise and good health."
As its one-year anniversary approaches, Body in Balance continues to expand. Fitness programs like its Biggest Loser competition and a 10,000 Step Per Day program begin Nov. 9 and a new first-floor addition has opened already.
Nov. 3 marked the official opening of their Community Wellness studio. The addition came out of the success of the Parkinson's Fitness and Support Program, offered every Saturday, said the center's marketing and events coordinator, Mari Dattolo .
"Before we obtained three-fourths of the building, our class programs would be held upstairs, but as our Parkinson program has expanded, it was a natural progression to obtain more space for our growing community," she said.
And for the Hagans, a healthy, growing community is all they can ask for.
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