Pick­ing up some ex­er­cise along with the gro­ceries

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

When Ann Law­son strolls into her neigh­bor­hood gro­cery store in Al­bany, N.Y., she re­ally gets a work­out.

That’s be­cause her Han­naford su­per­mar­ket has a small gym just past the phar­macy counter. It has tread­mills, sta­tion­ary bi­cy­cles, var­i­ous other car­dio ma­chines, even a state-of-the-art Zumba room with a shiny wooden floor.

And best of all—it’s free.

“It’s about me get­ting healthy and los­ing some of this ex­cess weight,” Law­son told the As­so­ci­ated Press. “And I like the idea of be­ing able to work out and shop in one trip.”

Maine-based Han­naford in­sists the 5,600-square-foot health fa­cil­ity that opened in Oc­to­ber is not part of some shrewd mar­ket­ing cam­paign. The Al­bany store is the only one in the 184-store chain with such a gym, and there are no plans for more.

The idea grew out of a meet­ing last sum­mer be­tween Han­naford, the lo­cal YMCA and Cap­i­tal District Physi­cians’ Health Plan. All said their goal was to come up with some­thing to im­prove the area’s health while also be­ing con­ve­nient, ac­ces­si­ble and free. The store had the space af­ter a re­cent re­mod­el­ing, and the Healthy Liv­ing Cen­ter was born with a goal to tar­get obe­sity and di­a­betes.

The cen­ter has a per­sonal trainer pro­vided by the YMCA, a health­care as­so­ciate from CDPHP to an­swer ques­tions and en­roll new cus­tomers, and a Han­naford reg­is­tered di­eti­tian to of­fer ad­vice on healthy eat­ing.

Store man­ager Dave Far­rell, an ad­mit­ted “ex­er­cise fool” who has dropped 86 pounds in the past year, said gym go­ers don’t have to shop in the store—they just fill out pa­per­work on the first visit and are given fobs to swipe when they stop by.

So far, just over 1,100 people have signed up, and the ex­er­cise classes are packed.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’ve had people use it who weren’t cus­tomers and have de­cided to shop in the store,” Far­rell said. “It’s def­i­nitely a win for us, but that wasn’t the goal.”

More than 1,100 people have signed up to use the Healthy Liv­ing Cen­ter.

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