Never in my life did I think that I would join a gym. And I especially never thought that I would enjoy being a member of a gym. But all that changed in July when I joined Dedham Health & Athletic Complex. You can tell from the name alone that this is no ordinary gym. The problem, you see, was that I have always been unwilling to be surrounded by young people who are already in great shape; I would only feel self-conscious and embarrassed. (Oddly enough, it doesn’t bother at all in the context of teaching, but it definitely does in the context of a gym.)
Dedham Health is different. Although there is indeed a sprinkling of young people in great shape, the majority of members are older and initially out of shape. Just as important is the medical emphasis: through its affiliations with the Joslin Diabetes Center, New England Baptist Hospital, and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Dedham Health has a medical emphasis that emphasizes lifestyle changes to combat obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol. They have a nurse on duty much of the time — a nurse with a speciality in those areas and their relationship with exercise and nutrition. They are exceptionally well-staffed with professional exercise physiologists (who knew that there even was such a profession?); not only are they experts, but every one of them is also a low-key, caring, supportive personal assistant. Although their regular membership is a bit pricey, they offer an introductory 60-day plan for $60.00 (with a doctor’s prescription). Both the 60/60 plan and the regular membership include a personalized fitness regimen that ranges from the big picture to the small. As you can tell, I am surprisingly enthusiastic about this place!