Healthy Habits: One-stop wellness in Algonquin

ALGONQUIN – Verne Kelly, 80, of Huntley, has had two shoulder replacements. She battles bad knees, along with a bad back, a herniated disk and sciatica.

“I want to make sure I don’t end up in surgery too soon,” Kelly said.

To keep in shape, to work on her balance and to stay healthy, Kelly goes to Healthy Habits Key to Wellness Fitness & Therapy Center, where she can exercise with supervision. If she wants, she can meet with a nutritionist and a doctor of internal medicine.

“This is a good place to be, particularly, when you have somebody who is watching you and making sure you don’t do all the wrong things, but all the good things for your body,” Kelly said.

Dr. Barbara Amsler, an internist, and nutritionist Karin Boode started the business last year because Amsler wanted to help educate patients about losing weight to help with health conditions.

However, the internist didn’t have enough time to educate people about healthy habits, Boode said.

At Healthy Habits, clients can meet with Amsler to discuss medical issues they are facing. They can meet with Boode to figure out the best diet plan, and they could meet with physical therapist who could put them on an exercise plan.

“The general goal is to keep people functioning, as they get older, get people moving, and if they have chronic health condition, try to keep that health condition stabilized, or maybe move it backwards,” said John Voelz, a physical therapist at Healthy Habits.

In January, the 1,500-square-foot Healthy Habits added the exercise area. The practice is in the process of adding chiropractic services, Voelz said.

Light weights are on the wall to do simple lifting. There are treadmills and a crosstrainer to sit and pedal on. Clients – mostly seniors – have access to machines to exercise different muscles, and a trampoline to work on balance.

The business is open to anyone with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, balance difficulties or obesity, Voelz said.

“We set them up on an exercise program, to help their balance, their endurance, their strength,” Voelz said.

Those who come to work out, which costs $60 a month, have individual folders with a list of exercises to do and for how long, or how many repetitions. After each is done, clients check it off their list. Each program is tailored to the person’s needs. Voelz meets with each new client before they start a program, to discuss medical conditions, medications, surgical history and exercise history.

“A lot of people who come here have never been active at all,” Voelz said. “They weren’t raised with exercise, and they don’t realize it’s going to help them. They think it’s going to hurt them.

“This is all preventative maintenance,” Voelz added.

Boode, the nutritionist at the center, has a doctorate degree in food science. Boode is part-owner of the business with Amsler.

Boode does one-on-one counseling to help people get on a diet that they will stick to and enjoy to help them lose weight.

“I help people change their lifestyle, because we believe you could lose weight on any diet you want, but if you don’t make changes in your life, you’ll gain the weight back,” Boode said.

Boode said that is why they offer a place to exercise.

After finding out what clients like to eat, she tries to find the right portion sizes to help them lose weight.

“We’ve seen very encouraging results,” Boode said. “We’ve had people come off of insulin, had people come off of blood-pressure medication. Their energy levels typically go up significantly, they become more active.”

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