The Weight We Carry – Marine Drive Golf Club

We work in the best industry in the world. The fitness industry is passionate about “Giving Back” and based upon the numerous emails that have come across my screen, its exciting to read how different facilities and people in the fitness industry share their passion and genuinely want to help others.

Shannel Brooks helps produce the Soapbox Blog/Newsletter and she shares this passion of helping others. Shannel’s customer “Marine Drive Golf Club” ( https://marine-drive.com ) provided the content for this Soapbox issue. Tom Schellenberg the GM (tom@marine-drive.com) shared with us and we share with you his passion to help others through his foundation “The Weight We Carry”. Take a few moments and read his article, it will elevate your spirits to a new height. Its truly amazing what he does to advance the cause of his foundation. Once you read his article, you will understand the name of his foundation “The Weight We Carry” so reflects what he does to make a difference.

I also believe you will find Shannel’s intro to Tom’s article insightful. If you have a chartable event, please let us know, we find our readership is interest in what people are doing for others less fortunate than ourselves

Finally, Annette Boettner of Club Northwest in Grants Pass Oregon sent me a nice note sharing her experience with PetrA-1. If you haven’t haven’t experienced the PetrA-1 culture, its time to join the family.

Thank you for reading,

John Mickelson

Introduction

by Shannel Brooks

I first met Tom during my yearly visit to Marine Drive Golf Club in Vancouver, BC.  Not only was he welcoming, but he was very enthusiastic about life which became instantly contagious.  Shortly after our visit, we bumped into each other at the annual CSCM (Canadian Society of Club Managers) conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  This is where I first heard about “The Weight We Carry”. Tom’s enthusiasm for life transformed into a deep passion for helping others when he spoke about creating an outlet for those who suffer from mental health.  His story was so powerful it left some in tears and me with goosebumps. It is amazing how one outrageous idea can capture the attention of thousands and can help impact hundreds of lives. Not only am I so blessed to be a part of an industry that is so charitable, but to be a part of a team that supports the events.

John Mickelson, has been a phenomenal contributor to multiple charitable events across North America through his 501-C3 “Caritate”.  He finds out everyone’s passion and helps make it a reality. Somehow, during one of our daily conversations, Tom’s story was brought up.  John immediately says “let’s get him on a conference call and see how we can help”.

 

The Weight We Carry – Marine Drive Golf Club

by Tom Roberts

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Tom and Kyle with members of the Koshish professional mental health team

My brother Kyle Roberts and I have been very fortunate in our life to grow up with loving parents that blessed us with the gift of believing in our dreams. On top of this, our mother taught us to care for people and our father instilled us with hard work ethic and grit. Growing up like this has lead Kyle and I to chase our adventurous spirit all over the world and most recently start a not for profit organization called The Weight We Carry.

 

The Weight We Carry is focused on carrying/portaging canoes to the most unlikely places on earth in support of Mental Health around the world. Our first expedition was over 200km’s in distance and more than 11,000 meters of total ascent carrying 90 pounds of weight to our destination of Mt. Everest Base Camp and back. This expedition was completed in January of 2019 to raise money for a mental health support organization known as KOSHISH to specifically aid women’s mental health in Nepal.

The Weight We Carry and KOSHISH are working together to build a Women’s Mental Health Transit Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal. At this centre Nepalese women suffering from mental illness and other psychological issues will receive Short-term Emergency Care and Professional Mental Health Support.

The centre will provide a safe and respectful space for women to recover at their own pace with a general stay of 3 months until they are assisted in reintegration with their family or community.

Please read below for the day to day blog from our trip starting after the first week of trekking necessary to get from Salleri to Lukla, the common starting ground for an Everest Base Camp Expedition.

After resting in Lukla, the team continued to hike upward and made it to Namche Bazaar. At 3500 metres, it was time to implement their acclimatization strategy to keep the team healthy as the air became thinner and less accommodating. Altitude sickness and other complications are a prominent threat to climbers everywhere, and it’s become the standard to have an acclimatization plan. For theirs, the team scheduled two acclimatization days in the later portion of the trek. Each time, they’d hike up 500-700 meters and then back down again to help their bodies learn to accommodate the altitude. Along with these days, their acclimatization strategy included monitoring their pace during the trek — with their canoes, they went at about half the pace of regular hikers.

In Namche Bazaar, the team had their first acclimatization day. Kyle and Tom got to abandon their canoes, and the team climbed from 3500 to 4000 meters, equipped with daypacks and camera bags instead of the usual heavy load. Kyle describes it almost as having a rest day; despite the difficult altitude, abandoning the packs and canoes feels like a break. It gave the team the opportunity to bring their focus away from their feat and towards the beauty of the mountains around them, happy to be in each other’s company.

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After spending one more night in Namche Bazaar, the team stopped in Tengboche and then Dingboche, where they’d have their second acclimatization day. Dingboche sits at 4400 metres above sea level. It’s a common place to stop and acclimatize because it has access to a 5100 metre peak called Nangar Tsang. Maggie and Fiona went lower but Kyle, Tom, Seton, and Dane hiked to the summit. Far from the treeline and exposed to the surrounding atmosphere of jagged ridges and patches of snow, the peak is known for its views of the Himalayas, and the team didn’t miss out.

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The two nights in Dingboche were freezing cold, the temperature sometimes dipping below -20°C. But the team otherwise had good weather for their stay in the town, and the clarity allowed them to truly experience its beauty. Deep in the mountains, the atmosphere fosters a feeling of spiritual solitude and peace, immersed in the raw experience of mountaineering. Instead of feeling trapped when surrounded by the Himalaya on every side, there’s an overwhelming sense of freedom. Dingboche served to be the perfect place for self-reflection.

 

When Kyle and Tom visited Dingboche two years ago, Tom found a stupa, a traditionally Buddhist place of meditation. This time around he visited the same spot, poised on a nearby hill, and meditated a few times during the stay. This practice had become pretty common throughout the trip. On a journey packed with action every day, as well as catching up on maintaining social media and speaking to family, the team tried to find time to reflect and breathe during those busy days. Even five or ten minute breaks were beneficial. Tom says that having an intent for the day—to be present, to practice self-love, to solve a problem, to appreciate the moment—helped the trip flow smoothly.

 

Meditation also helped Tom with his own experience of poor mental health and anxiety. Along with therapy, he found meditation a helpful way to reflect and foster positive self-worth. This quotation describes the experience well: “I find meditation alone just helps me to clear my mind and focus on appreciating yourself, appreciating who you are and seeing yourself through a lens of happiness and joy. Kind of warming your own heart about yourself, in a way, which is I think the most important feeling to have in your life.”

 

After enjoying Dingboche, the team reached Lobuche. The successful day of trekking was another one of the little victories during the trip. Kyle’s knee issues were at their peak at this point two years ago, to the point where he could barely make it up this ascent. But this time—in Tom’s words—he smashed it.

 

It wasn’t all easy though. The higher the team had been going in the past few days, the harder it was to breathe in the thin air. They sometimes found themselves walking only baby steps, because any more exertion made them gasp for more oxygen. Another difficult factor, one that most hikers don’t have to face, is handling the canoes in the mountain winds. When carrying an object with such a large surface area, it almost acts as a sail, trying to blow off-course. But putting one foot in front of the other and setting a slow pace, the team soldiered on.

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The night in Lobuche was another cold one at 4900 metres. It was so cold that the water in their tea-house would freeze, including their personal water bottles and the Nepalese-style toilets. Despite the fatigue that came after every long day, the team was still finding it difficult to sleep. The high altitude, oxygen-poor air, and crippling cold make it hard to rest. They would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night interrupted by their body’s need for more oxygen, lying in bed and gasping for air, trying to ignore it and go back to sleep. And many mountaineers—including this team—take Diamox to assist with adjusting to altitude, and its side effects don’t help.

 

Along with the fatigue from the long days and long nights, the team wasn’t eating well, either. Such high altitudes don’t support much life, and most food has to be transported from lower altitudes. Because of this, it’s hard to get a good meal, and frequently they would feel sick from the food. But the optimism of being so close to Base Camp and the spirit of the expedition kept them going.

 

The next day, they headed to Gorakshep, which was the last town they needed to hit before making the push to Base Camp. It’s more of a collection of tea houses or lodges than a village, and at just over 5100 metres, it was the highest that the team had climbed so far. Gorakshep forks into two routes: one headed to Base Camp, and the other to a peak called Kala Pattar, which many mountaineers summit during their stay. From Everest Base Camp, despite its title, there’s no view of the mountain. Kala Pattar offers more exposure to the surrounding peaks and a perfect view of Everest’s summit.

 

After arriving in Gorakshep that day, Kyle, Tom, Seton, and Dane summited Kala Pattar to explore and take some photos. They took the canoes halfway up and then continued without them to appreciate the lightness of trekking to the peak. At 5620 metres, they used the hike to further acclimatize, but more meaningful was the scenery. Last time Kyle and Tom climbed Kala Pattar, two years ago, it was too cold to stay very long. But this time the group lingered for about 40 minutes, taking in the view of the mountains and chatting about their feat. Moments like these, of spending time with friends and family, taking time to appreciate the moment, were always highlights.

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The team tried their best to get a good night’s sleep before making the final hike to Everest Base Camp. They set out at about 8:30 in the morning to make the most of the day.

For two hours, they hiked along the edge of the Khumbu glacier, sometimes trekking on the ice itself. Kyle and Tom had an advantage at this point; they could see and recognize when they were getting close based on their past experience. Despite the anticipation, they still took it slow, but the giddiness continued to build as they approached Everest Base Camp. When they were about 20 minutes away, the excitement really settled in. Not only had reaching EBC been a goal over the past three weeks, it had been almost two years since The Weight We Carry was born and the team started planning the trip. The emotion and energy put into the project was going to reach its own summit, and that was a feat in itself.

When they reached Base Camp, it felt unreal at first. Kyle and Tom rose their canoes above their heads in triumph, and tears started flowing shortly after. All six of the hikers—Kyle, Tom, Seton, Dane, Maggie, and Fiona—made it, and that was something to cry about. Throughout the trip, there were constant anxieties and questions running through their heads: Would they lack the endurance to make it to Base Camp with the canoes? Would someone get altitude sickness, or another suffer an injury that would keep them from continuing? Now the weight of second-guessing could finally be gone, and they could appreciate the victory of what they’d accomplished.

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It was another cold day and the team had other goals to meet, so they didn’t stay at Base Camp for long. But while there they took photos and celebrated, Seton did some filming, and each member of the team had the opportunity to speak to the camera about what the moment meant to them. Though the moment was overwhelming, they stepped back and looked at the bigger picture of what reaching Base Camp symbolized.

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The Weight We Carry works with Koshish to benefit the people of Nepal and provide support after times of trauma, loss, and the resulting mental illness. But the organization aims to spread awareness about mental health efforts in North America, too. While at Everest Base Camp, the team reflected on the way their own lives, and the lives of the people around them, have been touched by mental illness. Everybody has a different reason why it matters to them.

The group brought along photos of friends, and friends of friends, who had passed away—mostly those who had lost their battles with mental illness and died by suicide. They took pictures with those photos beside the canoes and the prayer flags that decorate the camp. They reflected on those losses and how they shaped the lives of the people who loved them. Mental illness is an extremely personal subject, and anecdotes such as those are often driving force of mental health efforts.

Both Kyle and Tom have been personally impacted by their own struggles with mental illness. Tom has a steady therapist back home and has been working on self-love and acceptance for the past few years. Kyle struggled with anxiety as a teenager and uses mindfulness and meditation to channel negative energy. Having grown up in a position of privilege, they’re lucky to have access to mental health resources and a strong, supportive community. It’s important to use that privilege to make a difference for friends and strangers alike.

After the period of celebration and reflection, the team came down from Everest Base Camp. They decided to alter their plans; instead of going straight to Lobuche, they spent another night in Gorakshep. They were wary of spending another night at such a high altitude, because it was so difficult to sleep, but Maggie had a migraine and they didn’t want to risk it becoming something worse.

They had an early start the next morning to descend from Gorakshep down to Pheriche. It was a different route than what they’d done on the way up, and although the change in scenery was welcome, the terrain was much more difficult. The hike was rocky and full of tricky maneuvers, especially with the canoes. It was also the windiest day they’d experienced in the trip thus far, which made the cold sting even more. But they set a good pace and throughout the day the descent became easier. The scenery was worth the struggle and they covered plenty of distance.

Pheriche is a beautiful valley town surrounded by mountains on all sides, another common place for trekkers to stop and rest. It’s common enough, in fact, that the team ran into a National Geographic expedition of scientists who were staying in the same tea house as The Weight We Carry. The leader of the NatGeo group happened to be Conrad Anker, a highly regarded mountaineer and one of Kyle and Tom’s inspirations. Conrad told them he was impressed to see people making a difference in Nepal and using their sense of adventure to help others. They mingled and chatted with the other team over hot tea, slightly awestruck.

The next morning, they got a thumbs up and pat on the back from Conrad, an extra bit of encouragement for the rest of the journey.

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They then went to Dingboche, which they’d already hit on the way up the Everest Base Camp. At this point in the descent, having seen the sights already and falling deeper into their daily routine, the team was eager to get back to Lukla. One advantage of heading closer to sea level was the change in air quality. The team became faster and faster as the atmosphere around them became more welcoming and oxygen-rich.

After Dingboche was Tengboche, another beautiful hike that dipped above and below the tree line as they descended. It was a shorter day, and although they could have pushed farther they decided to stop and get some rest. They were also already ahead of schedule and could afford to take the time and see Tengboche’s sights, namely a famous Buddhist monastery with cliffside views at 3800 metres above sea level. The feeling was increasingly bittersweet; the team was excited to get home but they’d be soon be missing out on the clean air, the mountain views, and the hiking routine.

Then they headed from Tengboche to Namche, which would be a longer day: about ten kilometres. The team felt strong and well-rested, and as the pathway became wider they could walk beside each other for the first time in a couple of weeks.

The goal was to hit Namche for a late lunch and visit a bakery that they knew made good pizza. They had another relaxing afternoon with good food and a beer each. At 3400 metres, the living felt easy compared to towns at higher altitudes.

The trekking felt increasingly easier as they became closer to sea level. At the beginning of the trip, there was more trial and error of the best way to carry the boats safely. Kyle and Tom had done countless portages before, up to seven kilometres at a time, but carrying canoes day in and day out required some different strategies. Once they reached a comfortable routine the hikes started to blend together with the rhythm of the journey.

The next day they hiked another ten kilometres to Phakding, which was at 2600 metres above sea level. It was going smoothly, but on the way there the team had to travel through Monjo, where they’d reach an outpost check and confirm their trekker permits in order to continue with the trip. The main purpose of this check is to ensure the hikers who enter the area eventually leave and haven’t run into trouble.

The team had been running on a good streak with the canoes, but here the Monjo authorities tried to charge them a fee; Kyle and Tom hadn’t had to pay a fee for the canoes on their way in, and knew it would be unnecessary to pay one now. They’d already spoken with Nepal’s director of tourism and they had their permits in order. On such an expedition, it was important to check and double check everything to avoid as much trouble as possible. Eventually, they convinced the outpost authorities that they didn’t have to pay the fee, which was lucky but the time set the team behind schedule.

After Monjo they hiked another two and a half hours and arrived in Phakding. They had another peaceful night with the view of the river flowing through the town. The bittersweet feelings were getting stronger as the end of the journey became closer.

The hike from Phakding to Lukla the next day was short but difficult. They pushed the two and a half hours without any breaks, both as an extra challenge and to save some time. The last stretch into Lukla was steep, but the team climbed the final stone steps with triumph, and thus the hiking portion of the trip was over. Feeling tired but accomplished, they ate lunch in the town and let the feeling of being finished settle in.

For the past month or so they’d been continuing the same routine nearly every day: wake up, pack up, put the canoes on and hike to the next destination. But instead, the next day they planned to fly from the Lukla airport into Kathmandu. But as we’ve learned, sometimes things don’t go as planned.

When they woke up the next day the town was surrounded by falling snow, so much that the team could barely see ten metres in front of them. The Lukla airport is already precarious; because it’s surrounded by mountains, the runway can only be so long, and visibility has to be perfect for safe takeoff. Some consider it the most dangerous airport in the world.

So the team had another day to relax in Lukla, playing cards, chatting, and reflecting on the trip as they waited for the storm to pass. They were still 25 days without showers, and had been ready to leave and get home, but they tried not to let the delay get them down.

Their flight the next day was still delayed by five hours, but the team felt lucky to be on their way to Kathmandu nonetheless.

Back in the familiar space, they took the opportunity to really commemorate the end of the trip. Their hotel was in Thamel, Kathmandu’s tourist area, which was full of restaurants, shops, and vendors. They ordered a feast both to celebrate and to take advantage of the quality and variety of the food, which was much greater compared to their meals at higher altitudes.

They spent a few days in Kathmandu to enjoy their last bit of time in Nepal. The team was slowly flying out of Asia and back home, but Kyle and Tom stayed the longest to make contact with Koshish, the Nepalese charity receiving The Weight We Carry’s donations.

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While the team was on their trek, Koshish managed to secure a plot of land on which to build the women’s transit centre. The land marks the tangible beginning of the project, and Kyle and Tom were lucky enough to visit the plot with Matrika, Koshish’s chairperson. The property is about a 45 minute drive out of Kathmandu, an acre of land perfect for fresh air, farming, and healing those who need the help.

As of the end of the trip, The Weight We Carry has raised about $75 000, halfway to their goal. Although the team are resuming their lives in different places around the world, they’re continuing their efforts to raise money for Koshish and spread the word. Everest Base Camp was an exciting adventure, but for Koshish it’s only the beginning of the start of something new.

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We appreciate your interest in Petra locker room amenities. We realize a switch to another brand of liquids soap, shampoos, lotions and other amenities can be a stressful time. In the effort to minimize the questions and concerns of your members during a change, the following suggestions might help when addressing your members concerns.

We take a stand for the environment. PetrA-1 is the only company in the world to have over 18 different  types of liquid soap products that are considered “Eco-Earth Friendly” as it pertains to the amount of packaging saved and not thrown into our land fill areas! These products eliminate the constant disposal of packaging and what packaging we do use is 85% recycled material. All our bottles and cardboard cases can be recycled.

PetrA-1 products are formulated with cosmetic grade ingredients. All Petra athletic club products are produced using ingredients that are also used in our medical, retail and NFL products. Animal testing is never performed by PetrA-1

PetrA-1 Super Concentrates and Platinum Concentrates have been formulated where they can be used for body washes, shampoos and hand soap…..greatly reducing packaging (one 5-gallon Enviropak makes up to 40 gallons of product). This ends the “throwing away” of mass amounts of plastic containers and hazardous 55 gallon drums.

The elimination of drums in your operation also makes for a much safer working environment. Our “Eco – Earth Friendly Wizard Soap System also saves floor space!

PetrA-1 products have been clinically tested in the medical field to assure their compatibility with all types of skin. From very dry to very oily, all types of skin will show positive results with regular usage.

All products are hypoallergenic, PH skin/hair balanced, biodegradable and phosphate free. All body washes and shampoos contain no Sodium Chloride.

Our ingredients as mentioned above, are also FDAGRAS” approved, you are assured that only the highest grade of ingredients are used in our products. Our products contain Kathon CG as their preservative ( Environmentally acceptable: rapidly biodegradable, non-persistent in the environment, and non-bioaccumulating ) and contain no Sodium Chloride or Parabens (methyl, propyl and parahydroxybenzoate) which has been suspected as being a “gateway” to different types of cancer.

Our hand soap, body washes and shampoos are made to clean and moisturize! The foaming action of the soap/shampoo is complemented by the moisturizers that replenish the emollients in the skin and hair. The foaming and lathering characteristics might be a tiny bit subdued compared to competing products because of the skin moisturizing ingredients which the more mature skin needs to prevent dryness and skin irritation.

Rest assured, when you provide PetrA-1 locker room amenities, you are providing the best performing and highest valued products available in the athletic club industry.

Helping those with special needs | The Story of FIT for ALL

Joe Cirulli, owner of Gainesville Health & Fitness, has long believed that the ultimate measure of a fitness business should be the health of the community in which it is situated. In the early 2000s he and his management team set a goal of having Gainesville recognized as the healthiest city in America. They proceeded to mobilize the community to achieve it, and in the spring of 2003 Gainesville became the first and only city to receive the gold Well City award from the Wellness Council of America.  Ask those knowledgeable about the international fitness industry to name the best clubs on the planet and Gainesville Health & Fitness will be on the list.

Enter Noah Hastay as the Operationals Manager of Joe’s flagship facility.  Noah has a passion for helping those less fortunate and shares his story below.  His “FIT for ALL” charitable organization is making a difference for people with physical and mental disabilities.  Like Joe, Noah has a passion to “give back” and make a difference in people’s lives and the community.  I hope you find Noah’s story of interest and should you want to contact him, hes available at: Noah Hastay, Gainesville Health & Fit 352-377-4955, 4820 W Newberry Rd, Gainesville, FL 32607 Noah.Hastay@ghfc.com

Should you have a need for financial support for a charitable event, please contact me and let’s discuss.

John

The Fit for All Story, by Noah Hastay

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”-Zig Zigler

In 2004, I met one of my dearest friends while on the playground at daycare. What I didn’t know that day, was that my friendship with him would have a profound impact on many facets of my life.

While visiting my friends’ home, I had my first interaction with someone diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  It was with his older brother. After spending quality time with him throughout my senior year of high school and beginning years of college, I began working as his caregiver and behavior assistant.

This opened the door for an opportunity to work with a few other individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and implementing each of their behavior plans.

One of the individuals I worked with has ASD, OCD, and Downs Syndrome. His OCD behaviors were something that would often get him into trouble in school, in the community, and at home.  While I worked with him, I resided with him and his family. This led me to see more of his every day interactions and how they were impacting his life. One thing that stood out to me was his medication.  The medication he was on for his OCD was affecting his metabolism and causing him to gain weight. Since this was impacting his life and overall health, I decided to start bringing him to the gym to workout.  I noticed that exercising not only helped curb his weight gain, but also dramatically impacted his cognitive functions. I didn’t connect the dots until he started back up at school. This was the same time I began my internship with Gainesville Health & Fitness during my senior year of college. When I learned more about fitness, I decided one day that I would bring him along with me to do a workout.  After putting him through a high intensity strength training workout, I noticed his negative behaviors and compulsive actions drastically diminished!

This was intriguing to me. I knew there was a connection between exercise and the brain, but I never understood the true life-changer impact it could have on this special population!

That’s when I started doing some research and found a book called Spark by John Ratey. It justified my hypothesis and I knew I needed to get him into a routine program that he could sustainably participate in when he graduated later that month. This is where I hit a road-block. There was nothing. Nada. Zilch. The only program close to what I was looking for was not for his age group, it was geared towards school age and younger.

As I concluded my internship with GHF and graduated from the University of Florida, I was hired on as the Fitness Director for the three clubs. This opportunity gave me the capability to help GHF get one step closer to its mission and mine: Inspire an Entire Community…

With the owner’s approval, I got to work on developing a program for the individuals with special needs in our community. After reaching out to all of my local resources, I had my first group of participants (15) signed up to start in the program I called FIT for ALL; A Fun, Inclusive, Training for Individuals with Special Needs on March of 2015. Being entirely employee-volunteer ran, it allowed us to get great feedback after the first 6-week program for us to make adjustments to help the program become more sustainable.

Fast-forward 4 years, we have worked with more than 120 different athletes with all levels of ability levels and have had hundreds of volunteers (University of Florida students, GHF Members/employees, community members). It is a staple resource to the special needs population in our community.

Not only was it an extreme need in our community, but I began to realize the need for this program amongst other communities as well! FIT for ALL is now a 501(c)(3) charity with a mission of becoming the fitness model for adults with special needs all around the world.

 

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The Challenge:  Over 63,000,000 (and growing!) Americans are challenged by a physical or mental disability. In addition to needing various levels of support, most of those with special needs remain physically inactive throughout the week. Our goal is to provide an arena for these athletes to engage in physical activity. ​

The FIT for ALL Solution:  The FIT for ALL Program is the first of its kind, offering a guided exercise routine that encompasses the four primary types of physical activity, which are aerobic, musculoskeletal, strengthening, joint flexibility, and nutrition.

All exercises are done with the assistance of a trained volunteer, guiding the athlete to perform each movement with proper form and to the intensity required to achieve desired results safely. Each exercise can be modified per the athlete’s individual ability level.

Support: Through the support of our staff and coaches, we provide financial assistance to the athletes and their families. No longer will the financial burden of a costly gym membership or specialized program fees hinder the athletes from achieving their greatest potential.

 

We strive to become the most important part of every Athlete’s day through Fun & Inclusive Training.

The Touching Story of Mike Alpert and The Claremont Club

To our Social Media family and readers of the Soapbox blog/newsletter. I met Mike Alpert at a Fitlife event and found his story very uplifting. His story demonstrates a movement I see spreading throughout North America, the movement of making a difference in people’s lives and “Giving Back”. Mike provided me with the details of how his desire to help those in need started and evolved. My non-profit charitable foundation “Caritate” has contributed to Mike’s foundation (you are able to make a donation with a credit card through his website at www.claremontclub.com. You will see the Non-Profit Foundation tab at the top and it will take you through the process) and know the donated money will make a huge difference in so many lives.

Should you have a need for financial support for a charitable event, please contact me and let’s discuss.

John


 

April 29, 2019

Article for John Mickelson, by Mike Alpert

I believe that there are occurrences that happen to each of us that have a major impact on who we will become and what we choose to do with our lives.  This happened to me back in 1992 at The Athletic Club of Bend in Bend, Oregon when I was working with a 5-year-old little boy who had Spina Bifida. He was confined to a wheelchair and would never be able to walk on his own.  Twice-a-week his mother brought him into our Club where he participated in a program that we ran called Team USAble Oregon that worked with physically challenged children. I would take him in the warm water section of our indoor pool and let him feel the freedom of the water.  To this day I remember how happy and excited he would be to get in the water where he felt buoyant and like he could move his hips. He would often hug me and kiss my cheek. The thought occurred to me that if our Club could bring so much joy to a little boy who had so much to deal with, why were we not doing more of this and helping more kids.  It also occurred to me that there were adults in similar situations who were challenged with chronic injuries and chronic illnesses and I wondered where they went after their insurance had run its’ course of reimbursement for medical coverage. Were they isolated and left to simply deal with their injury/illness? Everyday I saw the powerful effect that exercise and being in a social environment had on these children and adults and it really changed my life.  In a sense, I became obsessed with it.

 

I left The Athletic Club of Bend in 1995 and came back to Southern California where I ran a large Club in Irvine for 2 ½ years until it was sold.  During that time, I was recruited to come to Claremont as their President/CEO on August 1, 1997.

 

At the 2005 IHRSA Convention I took my Wellness Director, Denise Johnson to hear a presentation that Julie Maine was doing on a program she had developed with a hospital in Santa Barbara called The Cancer Wellfit Program.  Julie was someone that I knew through the industry and we were so moved by her presentation that I asked her if she would share the template with us and allow us to customize it for our Club in Claremont. Julie was such a special person and so gracious that she was happy to accommodate us.  Working with Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center we developed The Living Well after Cancer program. The program at the onset, focused primarily on women who were dealing with Breast Cancer and the first group that we put through had 8 women. It became obvious to all of us that we were not just working with the women who had cancer but rather with their entire family.  The program runs for 13 weeks and consists of a support group; cardio & strength training; oncology massage; nutrition counseling and cooking class. There is no cost for the program and Club usage is afforded to each family. As of today, we have helped to improve the overall quality of life for almost 1,100 women, men (we have had 7 small men’s groups) and their families through this program.

 

Seeing the incredible impact that the Living Well after Cancer program was having, I began to wonder why we were not offering a program for children and young adults who were battling cancer.  We had a Personal Trainer whose wife was an Oncology Nurse at City of Hope and she made a connection for us with Dr. Joseph Rosenthal who is a Baron Hilton Fellow and also head of Pediatric Oncology at City of Hope.  Dr. Rosenthal invited me out to give a presentation of our adult cancer program to a select few Oncologists. Several weeks after that presentation, he invited me back to do another presentation to a larger group of Oncologists and Administrators.  During the following couple of months our Childcare Director; Group Exercise Director and our Wellness Director put together a fantastic program for both the children/young adult and for their parents and we began that program in partnership with City of Hope.  At the beginning of the 2nd year of that year-round program a member came to see me whose son had Leukemia when he was eight years old.  She was telling me that when young children have cancer many of their friends believe that they can catch the cancer and avoid the friend.  Many times, this causes the child with the cancer to withdraw and feel very isolated and alone. The member asked if we would consider allowing the child to bring a friend with them to the program, which we all thought was a great idea.  Since then we have encouraged each child to bring their best friend with them for the entire year, which includes Club membership; all social activities; all 13 weeks of summer camp and field trips, lunches and t-shirt. We just started our 4th year and the program has been growing.

 

Back in 1999 at our annual Manager’s Retreat, our Day Spa & Salon Director, Maggie Weeks brought up the idea that we should start a program to raise funds for people in dire financial need during the Holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The program adopts 14 – 18 families each year that are brought to us by several school districts, churches and local city fire & police. The departments at the Club adopt these families and then go to visit them. It is a very sobering experience when you see a family of 5-6 living in a one room apartment with 2 gallons of milk on the floor because they do not have a refrigerator.  The children are not asking for video games or toys, but rather for underwear and socks and shoes. We make sure that these families have an extra special Christmas and a Holiday dinner.

 

All of the above programs are privately funded through our TCC Non-Profit Foundation and from Club profits.  These and many other Community Outreach programs (like our Cycling for Parkinson’s; Ontario/Montclair School District and Claremont Unified School District programs; High School Prom programs; Urban Garden and others) are offered free of charge and are at the core of our Culture.  They have not only changed the lives of our members, staff and communities that we live and work in, but they have also had a major effect on both Member & Staff attrition and retention.

 

In life, we are given the opportunity to work with great people to help build our passion.  Great people are built upon the creation of opportunities for purposeful & meaningful work. It takes someone being in that environment to really learn how to motivate, guide and encourage those around them.  Building great passionate people leads to an overall better culture. But nothing beats the power and results that exercise has on someone’s life. Exercise is Medicine.

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IHRSA NEWS: Over 6 Billion Visits to 39,570 Health Clubs Last Year

Dear readers, please see this amazing report directly from IHRSA. -John

Latest IHRSA Data: Over 6 Billion Visits to 39,570 Health Clubs Last Year  

U.S. Health Club Industry Serves 71.5 Million Consumers

Boston — March 27, 2019— More than 71.5 million consumers utilized U.S. health clubs in 2018, a record-high since IHRSA began tracking health club utilization in 1987. The number of individual members totaled 62.5 million, up 2.6% from 60.9 million in 2017. In all, consumers frequented their health clubs for more than six billion visits in 2018.

“We’re proud to highlight that the U.S. health club industry is increasingly serving the health, fitness, and wellness needs of consumers,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA president and CEO. “More than 62 million health club members use a club or studio for an average of 104 days a year, while 9 million non-member users attend a club or studio for an average of 24 days a year.”

Based on a study conducted by The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) as part of the Physical Activity Council (PAC), more than one out of five Americans (20.8%) belong to at least one U.S. health club or studio. Since 2008, membership has grown by 37.1%, while the total number of club-goers has increased by 34%. The total number of health club visits has also increased, amounting to 6.1 billion visits in 2018, up from 4.3 billion in 2008.

At 39,570, the number of health club facilities increased by 2.8% over the previous year, up from 38,477 locations. In 2018, U.S. health club industry revenue increased to $32.3 billion, up from $30 billion in 2017, an improvement of 7.8%.

“We are happy to report that along with consumer growth, the number of fitness facilities and total industry revenue increased in 2018,” said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products. “Consumers in the U.S. continue to place a high value on their health, investing in club access and services in order to meet their health and wellness needs as well as fitness and athletic goals.”

Later this year, IHRSA will release the 2019 IHRSA Global Report (June) that will provide an overview of the worldwide health club industry and the 2019 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report (Sept), which will provide analysis of health club consumer growth, demographics, utilization, and trends as well as insights and applications for club operators. The 2018 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report is available on IHRSA’s website.

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Methodology: Each year, IHRSA conducts an annual health club consumer study as part of the Physical Activity Council (PAC). The PAC is made up of six of the leading sports and manufacturer associations that are dedicated to growing participation in their respective sports and activities. During 2018, a total of 20,069 online interviews were carried out with a nationwide sample of individuals and households from the US Online Panel of over one million people operated by IPSOS. The total panel is maintained to be representative of the US population for people ages six and older. Oversampling of ethnic groups took place to boost responses from typically under responding groups.

About IHRSA

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs and suppliers worldwide. Its mission is to grow, promote and protect the health and fitness industry. As the leading authority on the commercial health club industry, IHRSA regularly conducts primary consumer research and industry economic and operating studies. For more information on IHRSA research, visit the IHRSA website.

Ending IHRSA 2019 with Augie’s Bash | Conquering ALS

IHRSA 2019 has come and gone with Augie’s Bash being the final event. This year Augie’s Bash was held in a new venue in the convention center. Close to 2 million dollars was raised and the news of the start of human testing was celebrated. Not only is the goal to eliminate ALS but there is hope the experimental drug will also help treat Parkinson and Alzheimer’s. I partnered-up with several other fitness organizations through “Caritate” my non-profit organization to make sure we did our part to maximize the funding of Augie’s Quest. Its uplifting to be a part of a movement wanting to make a difference in the fight to conquer ALS and provide hope for people that have this horrible illness. Caritate gives me the vehicle to make a difference and give back to others.

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Exceeding Expectations – An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Based upon experience, you are in a business where you have to live by the motto of “watch the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves”. The competition in the athletic club marketplace is brutal and you need to save money wherever you can. Petra-1 can provide the savings.

If we can provide savings of 20-25% versus your current consumable products and provide free dispensers, would this be of interest?

Bill McBride and Brent Darden have used our patented Wizard Soap System in their facilities. When Bill required a savings in his liquid soap budget of 20-30%, realized his customers would demand a premium performing liquid soap and the facility staff wanted customer service that meets or exceeds their expectation, there was only one choice, Petra-1. As we have done with close to two thousand facilities, we have met the same requirements as were required by Brent and Bill.

Both Vince and I feel so confident about what we can provide that I’ll make you this offer, if we can’t produce the results mentioned above, we will donate to your favorite charity $250.00. Let’s do a trial of our Wizard Liquid Soap System products and let your members decide. If we don’t meet or exceed your expectations as to shower area consumables, we will gladly make a donation to your favorite charity in your name.

When it comes to liquid consumable products, towels/textiles and equipment wipes, Petra-1 is your one-stop-shop.

If you are attending IHRSA, please drop by our booth (#617) … where we will have a few goodies to share and let’s chat how we can provide a better membership experience and save you money.

Please see our latest Petra e-brochure. Please review and let’s discuss when we see you at IHRSA

It’s a pleasure and privilege to serve you.

John Mickelson

June 2015

Special Two Part Edition: “Drought Mandates” in California and Nevada, tips in dealing with Pool/SPA Water Loss Reduction and Cost Savings

Drought warnings in California have turned into costly fines and steep restrictions. Nevada and Oregon may not be soon behind. These changes are necessary for us to do our part for statewide water conservation. It is up to us to rise to the challenge of meeting these reduction goals while maintaining member satisfaction in a cost effective manner. But the time is now.

The next two editions of the SoapBox are offering you free consulting tools to help you meet water conservation requirements through cost saving measures. This will be information for you to take to an upcoming planning meeting. It is our goal to help help spark conversation and build community by offering in depth information and opportunities to ask questions about what usage and facility management. Ask us your questions here and we will answer them in our next edition.

Until next time…John & Katy


Exclusive Petra-EcoLab Partnership Pricing Sneak Peak!

Fitness Clubs with 40-50,000 gal pools can reduce water evaporation and save thousands of gallons of water each year on a newly released water evaporation prevention product for only $50/month! Stay tuned next month for details!


OJustin Jones of EcoLabur Water Savings Expert…

“From conserving to reusing and recycling, we’re safeguarding the world’s most precious resources.” Justin Jones, West Regional Sales Manager (Email)

Q&A: Water Reduction and ROI

Soapbox: I know I need to start saving more water, butTotal Dissolved Solids (TDS) buildup occurs naturally! What can I do?

Justin: TDS do buildup naturally. All dissolved matter added to Pool/Spa water contribute to the increase in TDS, including salt, user waste, wind-borne debris and all balancing chemicals from chlorine to clarifiers. These dissolved solids do not evaporate so naturally will increase in concentration over time. After TDS levels reach 1500 ppm higher than the TDS when the pool or spa was started up, the water will start to look dull or show poor clarity. The only option at that point would be to drain or extremely dilute your pool or spa. By maintaining a balanced pool with the right program and staff training, the time it takes to build up these levels can be greatly extended conserving large amounts of water.

S: I’ve implemented new cost-saving measures into day-to-day pool maintenance operations, but not all my staff seem to understand the process or the importance. How can Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Certifications help?

J: The CPO Certification is a great way to improve knowledge and is required by most health departments for any staff that has responsibly over pool and spa operations. These courses are an in-person class that educates. Combining that with ongoing training and measurement of results, you can easily increase the efficiencies of your operation.

S: What is the best way to test the effectiveness of my facility’s water use reduction plan?

J: Each facility is different in what opportunities may be available to reduce water use. To truly know how effective your plan is, it is very important to understand how to measure water consumption prior to implementing any new procedures. This will give you a base line to come back to and know if your efforts are paying off. Please contact me to hear how similar facilities have improved their bottom line.

S: What are the elements to pool and spa sustainability?

J: That is a good question that I get all of the time. It comes down to reducing your carbon footprint. When I consult with operators, I look at all aspects from water use and waste to the types of chemicals they use. If sustainability is a main focus for someone and let’s say they are using Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) as their main sanitizer, by changing to a solid Chlorine, we can lower their carbon footprint because we aren’t shipping a product that is 85% water.

S: When will I start to see a ROI?

J: Again, that depends on the type of improvements you are making but some can yield an ROI in the first month. This is mainly due to technology getting cheaper and best practices are more readily available for research.

Please feel free to reach out to Justin for answers to any questions you may have in regards to cost saving pool maintenance procedures or protocols.

Email: justin.jones@ecolab.com
Phone: 208.640.1377