Boston-Area Health Club Tackles Diabetes

Bedford, Ma — For health club members who are diabetic, managing fitness levels can be just as difficult as managing blood-sugar levels. One health club, Summit Health & Fitness, Bedford, MA, is helping members do both.

Jesse Keene, who founded Summit Health & Fitness along with Philip Racicot three years ago, developed a program called Diabetes Training Specialists in which trainers train people who are pre-diabetic or have Type 2 diabetes.

“Our main goal is to help people with diabetes feel good through prescribed exercise,” Keene says.

The inspiration to create a diabetes program came from Keene's father, who was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, as well as a client of Keene's who had Type 2 diabetes and did not feel comfortable working out at a health club because of his condition.

The number of participants in the diabetes program has grown to 25 in recent months, and about two or three join per month, Keene says. In the first quarter of this year, the diabetes program generated 8 percent of the high-end club's gross revenue from less than 3 percent of the club's 720 memberships.

Program participants don't pay a joining fee, and their monthly dues are $60 per month rather than $75. They also pay $80 for personal training sessions rather than $99. Participants must attend at least one session a month, but most attend one to two sessions a week, Keene says.

“Not one participant has left the program or changed their current rate structure,” Keene says.

Circuit training exercising is showing the best results for his clients, Keene adds.

“The movements and exercises aren't necessarily drastically different [than in other programs],” he says. “It's more the emotional support side from a trainer's perspective.”

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