Nutrition Lab among the new features at Choice Health & Fitness“It’s more than a sweatbox.” Those are the words of Dr. Gerald Combs in describing the new Choice Health & Fitness.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
“It’s more than a sweatbox.”
Those are the words of Dr. Gerald Combs in describing the new Choice Health & Fitness.
Combs is director of the Human Nutrition Research Center, a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility located on the University of North Dakota campus. More commonly known locally as the Nutrition Lab, the center has an 850 square-foot presence on Choice’s first floor.
“When the idea was first presented to me, my response was ‘you’re building me a new laboratory,’” Combs said.
The Nutrition Lab is not alone. Altru Health System also will be inside Choice, but with a much bigger footprint by leasing 12,000 square feet. Altru routinely will have 25 to 30 employees on site at any time, offering a range of medical services and programming.
The presence of both organizations adds credibility to the park district’s pitch that the fitness center’s priority is health, not entertainment. They also contribute to the bottom line.
The Nutrition Lab is paying $25,000 annually for its space.
“We’re getting a lot for that money,” Combs said. “They’re not making any profit on us. Their motivation for letting us in is that they’re doing the right thing.
“We’ll be the only research lab in the country that has this type of environment.”
Altru’s financial contribution is more significant. It will pay $4 million for rent over the next 10 years. That’s in addition to the $1.5 million for naming rights to the Altru Y Family Center and $5 million for naming rights to the Altru Wellness Village, the 42-acre site that surrounds the Choice building.
Therapy and medi-spa
Altru will offer services at Choice such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, nutrition, chiropractic and sports medicine.
It also will offer a “medi-spa,” which would be a satellite of its Truyu facility. Available will be the likes of pedicures, manicures, massage and facials.
“And, in partnership with Choice, personal trainers will work directly with our team,” said Brad Wehe, Altru chief operating officer. “We’re really excited about the preventive medicine part, the lifestyle, nutrition and other things that will prevent diseases such as diabetes.”
Wehe said employees in those areas are scattered across the city. “Now we’ll be that one-stop shop,” he said. “I think the community will be impressed about how we’ll work together.”
Altru originally planned to build a clinic on the 42-acre site, but that idea was dropped when it purchased south-end property that included the Doctors Hospital facility.
An emphasis on research
The Nutrition Lab’s presence will be about research, not treatment. Its research emphasis will be on such topics as healthy body weights and physical activity.
Research volunteers may receive a six-month membership for participating, Combs said. He said study areas will include the likes of: “We know how to lose weight, but can we learn how to do it sustainably? We want to research the motivation of healthy behaviors and if they’re sustainable, so they become part of the lifestyle.”
He said there is no comparable collaboration in the country.
“Researchers see it as a new model,” Combs said.
Call Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1125; or send email to email@example.com.