Putting the healthy pieces together

October 5, 2009
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A new wellness center that is moving into a former fitness center will combine wellness with fitness and toss in spa services in a single location.

Core Fitness Holdings LLC is developing the 40,000-square-footURBA Wellness Center in the former home of the Riverfront Fitness Center at 975 Ottawa Ave. NW. Work on the $2.7 million conversion began recently and the firm hopes to have the center open by December.

Despite being a new offering for Grand Rapids, Core Fitness Holdings’ managing partner, Jack Buchanan, said his group wasn’t reinventing the wellness wheel with the project.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a new concept,” he said. “There is an entity called the Cooper Clinic that is down in Texas that is similar to what we’re planning on doing. But, basically, it’s not a fitness center; it’s not a spa. It’s a wellness center.”

The Cooper Clinic, located in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, is owned by Cooper Companies — which is largely father and son doctors Kenneth and Tyler Cooper. The Dallas clinic opened in 1972, while the one at Craig Ranch in McKinney opened three years ago.

Both locations have fitness centers with exercise programs, running tracks, courts, swimming pools and weight rooms. But they also have wellness centers that offer weight-loss and healthy-eating programs, stress management pointers, illness prevention tips, personal nutrition counseling, relaxation techniques and more. Both also offer spa services.

“What we found is that it’s a really fragmented industry. You’ll see these wellness and fitness centers and spa services and they’re all separate, and that makes no sense. These ought to be all tied together, even physically tied together under one roof,” said Buchanan. “They ought to be tied together to promote each other or to let people know about each other because they completely fit together. As we got into this whole process, we were kind of surprised that fitness is by itself and there’s no medical aspect to it.”

“We’ll offer a whole range of services that we feel will completely complement what is going on the hill,” said Sherry Buchanan, Jack’s wife and one of the partners in the project, of the medical facilities going up on Michigan Street.

Bob Dykstra is a consultant to the project and will manage the center. Dykstra helped run the Michigan Athletic Club.

Serve Source and Think Design are designing the conversion. Red Tree, a division of Virgin Soil Properties, is managing the construction process. HQ

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