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Offering Holistic Health Programming

Find the missing “peace” of your business by going beyond yoga and Pilates.

Your facility has it all—cardiovascular
equipment, free weights,
fitness classes and experienced
personal trainers. You provide
everything anyone could desire for
achieving an optimal physique. However,
you may be missing an important opportunity
with your members. Certainly,
physical fitness is vital to overall health,
but it is not the whole story. The mind
plays a crucial role in our well-being, and
mind and body work together in everything
we do.

By embracing a “mind and body”
approach to fitness, you can enhance members’
total health while increasing your
client base and revenue. Happy, healthy
members are more likely to renew their
memberships and refer friends. In this
piece,we’ll review the benefits of programs
that embrace a whole-person wellness approach—
programs like Reiki,meditation,
Ayurveda, acupuncture and homeopathic
medicine—and we’ll look at ways to incorporate
theminto your business.

Why More Mind-Body?

Facilities that adopt the whole-person
wellness model enrich members’ lives.
Mind-body activities improve mood, reduce
feelings of stress and, in turn, lower
the risk of stress-related illnesses (Brehm
2006). Did you know that a top concern
in our society is the growing amount of
stress and the diseases that stem from an
inability to deal effectively with elevated
stress levels?

The good news is that you can help
clients find positive ways to handle stress
by providing opportunities to integrate
holistic practices into their daily lives.
Facilities that offer these services attract
more members because multidimensional
programming draws participants
across all age and fitness levels. Furthermore,
holistic classes and services are typically
associated with an additional fee,
providing your facility with a supplementary
profit center. In other words, what’s
good for the customer is also good for
business (Milner 2002).


Reiki is a Japanese method of stress reduction
and relaxation that also promotes
healing. It involves the transfer of energy
from practitioner to client to enhance the
body’s natural ability to heal itself. Reiki
uses specific techniques for restoring and
balancing the natural life-force energy
within the body. Proponents agree that
Reiki brings about deep relaxation, destroys
energy blockages, detoxifies the system,
provides new vitality and increases
the body’s vibrational frequency.

Reiki should not be confused with
massage treatments. Many Reiki treatments
do not involve actual touching.
Some practitioners hold their hands a
few inches away from the client’s body
and manipulate the energy field from
there. Reiki also works in conjunction
with other medical or therapeutic techniques
to relieve side effects and promote

To find a Reiki practitioner in your
area, contact the International Association
of Reiki Professionals (www.iarp.org).


Meditation is a mind-body practice that
originated in ancient spiritual traditions.
People practice it for many reasons—to
increase mental and physical relaxation,
to improve psychological balance and to
cope with illness, among others. Practitioners
attempt to get beyond the reflexive
“thinking”mind into a deeper state
of relaxation and awareness.With training,
they learn to develop an inner spaciousness
and clarity that help them
maintain equanimity regardless of external

Generally, meditation uses certain
techniques, such as a specific posture,
focused attention and an open attitude
toward distractions. The practice can promote a deep state of peacefulness, a tranquil
mind and emotional stability. These
effects don’t end when the meditation session
ends. Meditation has lasting effects
on emotional and physical well-being
(Mayo Clinic 2007). In addition to the relaxing
benefits of meditation, this practice
may also be useful in easing certain
medical conditions, including allergies,
asthma, depression and chronic pain
(Mayo Clinic 2007).

“I think combining meditation with
exercise is absolutely essential because the
mind is the ultimate ground of our experience,”
explains Ryan Redman,meditation
instructor at Zenergy Health Club
Spa in Ketchum, Idaho. “Therefore, if we
exercise our body while leaving the mind
in a state of distress, then inevitably our
ordinary experience of the body will also
be that of distress, regardless of how
much exercise we do.”


Ayurveda is a healing system that treats
the whole person rather than treating individual
symptoms.An important goal of
Ayurveda is to identify the client’s ideal
state of balance, determine where she is
out of balance and offer lifestyle interventions
using diet, herbs, aromas, massage
and music to re-establish balance.
Ayurveda offers practical tools and information
for living without interference
from illness.

Simone deWinter from Marin Ayurveda
in Fairfax, California, explains that
when we incorporate Ayurveda into our
lives,“our physiology will function better;
we will function better; [we will] have
more resistance to disease,more ability to
heal when we are ill, more energy; and
[we will] feel more optimally alive.”

In fact, the wisdom of Ayurveda is designed
to help people stay vital and realize
their full potential. Providing
guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal
routines, diet, behavior and proper use
of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us
that health is the dynamic integration
of our environment, body,
mind and spirit.

According to the Chopra Center in
Carlsbad,California,“The guiding principle
of Ayurveda and the other Eastern
healing arts is the interconnection of all
things. From this perspective, health isn’t
merely the absence of illness or symptoms it is a higher state of consciousness
that allows vitality, well-being, creativity
and joy to flow into our experience.”


Acupuncture, which is among the oldest
healing practices in the world, promotes
health by reducing tension, increasing circulation
and enabling the body to relax.
Part of traditional Chinese medicine,
acupuncture is based on the concept that
disease results from disruption in the flow
of “qi” in the body. Acupuncture seeks to
restore this balance, leading to emotional
and physical healing and strengthening
resistance to disease.

Treatments aim to restore and maintain
health through the stimulation of specific
points on the body. The most common
technique involves penetrating the skin
with thin, solid,metallic needles that are
manipulated by the hands or by electrical
stimulation. People experience acupuncture
differently, but most feel minimal or
no pain as the needles are inserted.

“When energy flow is disrupted by
things like poor diet, stress, injury or an
unbalanced lifestyle, pain and disease result,”
explains Julie Hackmann, LAc, of
Retreat Acupuncture in San Francisco.
“Acupuncture can be used in conjunction
with Western medicine to treat a variety
of health conditions or used as a preventive
form of medicine.”

According to the 2007 NationalHealth
Interview Survey, an estimated 3.1million
U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the
12 months prior to polling (Barnes,
Bloom & Nahin 2008).


Homeopathic medicine uses natural
remedies that stimulate the body’s own
healing processes. Homeopaths view the
individual as a whole and prescribe
a remedy to cure the
emotional, physical and spiritual
imbalances that
underlie physical symptoms.
Homeopathy is
used to treat acute and
chronic health problems, to prevent disease
and to promote health.
The success of homeopathy is fueled
by several factors:

  • When the correct remedy is taken,
    results can be rapid, complete and
  • Homeopathy is completely safe with
    few, if any, side effects.
  • Homeopathic remedies can safely be
    taken alongside other medication.
  • Homeopathic remedies are based on
    natural ingredients.
  • Homeopathy works in harmony with
    your immune system, unlike some
    conventional medicines that suppress
    the immune system.
  • Homeopathic remedies are not
  • Homeopathy addresses the cause of
    the condition, not the symptoms. This
    often means that symptoms tackled
    with homeopathy do not recur.

Homeopathy is the second most
widely used system of medicine in the
world. In the United States its popularity
has increased by about 25%–50% per
year throughout the last decade (ABC
Homeopathy 2003).

Holistic Programs

Integrating holistic health offerings into
your existing programs is simple. Some of
these practices can be seamlessly added to
your current services with little additional

Approach #1: Conduct Classes. At
Crunch Fitness, with locations throughout
the United States, two different classes
offer members the opportunity to meditate:
“Nap time” is a guided meditation
class, and “World Meditation Styles” introduces
participants to meditation practices
from all over the world.

Approach #2: Start New Services.
While this strategy may require more of
an investment, it can differentiate your
brand in the marketplace. For example,
Castle Hill Fitness in Austin, Texas, has an
acupuncturist on staff. Members and
nonmembers are welcome to use this
service for a fee. Individuals can book single
sessions or purchase a 5- or 10-session
card. “Coupling acupuncture with a
health club creates a wellness-centered
culture, not just a gym,” says Amy
McNair,manager of program marketing
for the facility. “We’ve found that when
you cater to your clients in many different
areas, you not only help improve their
health but also boost your business with
value-added services,” she explains.

Approach #3: Become a Community
By partnering with local holistic health experts and naturopathic centers,
you provide your members with the
knowledge to explore these practices on
their own. For example, consider hosting
an educational workshop led by a homeopathic
pharmacist or a Reiki practitioner.
Additionally, provide references
and pamphlets to members in order to
spark an interest and educate them on
these health practices.
Motivation for joining a health club
has migrated from a desire to improve
physical appearance to an interest in overall
well-being for mind, body and spirit.
Your facility can meet this need by expanding
programming to include specific
holistic options; in doing so, you will
enrich people’s lives and bolster your
bottom line.


Interested in learning more about the mind-body disciplines described in this article?
Check out the following resources:
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, www.medicalacupuncture.org
The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, www.homeopathyresource.org
The Chopra Center, www.chopra.com
The International Center for Reiki Training, www.reiki.org
Marin Ayurveda, www.marinayurveda.com
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, http://nccam.nih.gov/
National Center for Homeopathy, http://homeopathic.org
Reiki Peace Network, www.reikipeacenetwork.com
The Transcendental Meditation Program, www.tm.org

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