New Pal wellness center to open Dec. 21

Hancock Health's new wellness center and medical pavilion will be the largest of the health system's satellite facilities. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

NEW PALESTINE — The doors at the New Palestine Wellness Center won’t open until Dec. 21, but more than 650 new memberships have already been secured.

An additional 850 members who are now using a temporary center — the former Family Fun & Fitness at 5151 W. U.S. 40 in Greenfield — are also expected to transition to the new center.

“The membership drive is going exceedingly well. There’s an incredible amount of interest,” said Joel Hungate, who oversees the three Hancock Health wellness centers in the county.

The Greenfield center, at 888 West New Road, was built in 2000. The McCordsville center, at 8505 North Clearview Drive, was built in 2015.

The new center, at the southwest corner of Mt. Comfort Road and U.S. 52 in New Palestine, is the largest at 100,000 square feet. Half of that is dedicated to the fitness facility, while the other half will be filled with physicians’ offices and lab space.

All three facilities are certified medical fitness centers, which makes them one of the best networks of such facilities in the nation, Hungate said.

“The New Pal center will truly be a best-in-class, world-leading center — one of the largest, most comprehensive and innovative fitness centers in the nation,” he said.

Hungate said all three of Hancock Health’s wellness centers are designed to serve not just as fitness facilities, but as an extension of the hospital.

Family physicians, specialists and lab technicians will be available on site at the New Palestine facility, as well as service providers like personal trainers and massage therapists, providing an interdisciplinary approach known as “population health.”

The goal is to have more people visit the wellness center to achieve and maintain personal fitness, so that fewer people need to visit the physicians and specialists for non-routine medical care.

“It’s all about the concept of investing in ourselves in order to head off little (health) problems before they become bigger problems down the road. It’s a proactive, prevention-based approach to health and wellness,” Hungate said.

As director, he promotes the “exercise as medicine” philosophy, which encourages members to take control of their health by utilizing not only the facility but highly trained staff that works there.

It’s that combination of fitness amenities and expert advice that makes the wellness center such an appealing option for members, Hungate said.

“It’s not just exercise; it’s the expert advice you’ll receive. You can trust the advice and support you’re getting,” he said. “The real secret sauce is the people and programs and opportunities that we create for our members.”

The county’s newest wellness center offers an array of workout equipment and group fitness classes, in addition to three pools, steam rooms, saunas and onsite services like personal training and massage. It’s also a certified CrossFit affiliate.

When it comes to competing fitness facilities, Hungate said he knows the wellness center isn’t the cheapest alternative, but he hopes potential members will consider the value for the money.

“Anyone interested in really taking control of their health and wellness in the long term, this is a location where you have everything you need for wellness all under one roof,” he said.

The “exercise as medicine” philosophy is that investing in physical fitness today can prevent the need for costly medical services in the future.

The cost of health care was listed at the top of concerns in a recent community needs assessment conducted by Hancock Health this year.

“The goal at each wellness center is to get ahead of health issues before they turn into bigger problems, so you save on medical costs down the road,” he said. “But when you do need those services, they’re right down the hall.”

Wellness center members can select from a number of membership options based on their needs, including memberships for seniors and those with three, six and 12-month terms.

No matter what individual members choose, Hungate said the overall goal is to positively impact the overall health in Hancock County.

“Our goal is to be the healthiest county in Indiana, and to serve the state in that capacity. Looking at the resources we have relative to all those in central Indiana, we’re going to be in a better position than most to really move that needle and effect that change,” he said.