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Just good ole exercise – hold the disco

February 2012

Ever wondered what goes on in that spanking new glass-enclosed building on the athletic grounds at the Loyola Campus of Concordia University on Sherbrooke W.?

Dr. Hugues Beauregard, 69, dropped by last month and now the Montreal endocrinologist works out virtually every day at the $35-million facility known as the PERFORM Centre.

That’s the acronym combining its central features: prevention, evaluation, rehabilitation and form(ation), combining the French word for training and the shape we’d like to be in. It opened in September and the public, juniors and seniors alike, is invited to join.

Whatever you do, do not call the 8,000-square-metre facility a “gym,” says Marian Lowe, a certified exercise physiologist who manages programs at the centre.

Iordanka Noteva (left) and Concordia student Zech Bouchard work out at the PERFORM Centre. Photos: Irwin Block

She says it is a unique combination of research, education and community engagement, fitted with the latest equipment and led by highly trained specialists.

Walk in and you will see the centre is bathed in pastel colours and natural light, augmented by fluorescent lamps, and there is no blaring disco music. The ventilation system keeps the air fresh. Treadmills have their own music, video screens, WiFi and, thanks to earphones, merciful silence is maintained.

Lots of room separates the various machines, which are surrounded by a walking track.

Each participant is assessed by a qualified exercise specialist, and the focus combines prevention, research and promotion of better health and lifestyle choices based on regular exercise suited for each persons’s age and condition.

Participation in research is voluntary.

Beauregard, who has always been active—cycling, skiing and golfing—was attracted to the centre by its location and the fact that it is managed by the university.

“For me, that is an indication of quality,” he said. “They are used to working with students who are doing research. Physical activity and education is a science that is evolving, and by being part of a university group, I have more chance of profiting from advances based on that research.”

When he signed up for a semester, he was tested for his aerobic capacity.

He was observed by a staff professional on various exercise machines to determine which muscle groups were weakest.

They measured his waist, blood pressure, and mapped out a training program that takes a bit more than an hour.

“I plan to come at least twice a week. My goal is to avoid deteriorating too rapidly.”

Good intentions aside, he admitted the challenge is to continue.

Endocrinologist Hugues Beauregard gets on the equipment at Concordia nearly every day.

The base cost, Beauregard said, was “quite reasonable” compared with other fitness centres—$150 for a 16-week semester (plus tax), or $450 for the full year. (It’s less for students and staff.) There are additional charges for sessions with personal trainers. The basic $30 charge is for learning how to use the smart key, which monitors aerobic performance on most machines and compares them with goals.

There are several other preparatory programs, up to the $180 charge, which includes smart-key training, 90-minute assessment and mapping out a program, a further 90-minute session with a personal trainer, and a 30-minute follow-up a couple of weeks later.

Each person’s program is copied on their smart key—“our honesty key, which registers what you did,” Lowe says.

The centre welcomes those who have been ill, have chronic orthopedic issues, and those who get no or insufficient exercise.

“We would like to work on prevention and management of diseases, so quality of life is there,” Lowe notes.

The centre’s certified athletic therapists also train interns in Concordia’s highly regarded exercise science program.

People with particular orthopedic issues—knees, hips—can be assessed by a student, supervised by a certified trainer, including special “resistance pools,” where movement in the water can be observed through side windows underground at the centre’s athletic therapy clinic. The charge is $25 for a full hour.

Sociologist Iordanka Noteva, at 74, is a self-disciplined regular exerciser. She filled out a questionnaire before starting her two-hour-a-day program. No assessment necessary.

“I believe that every person must care for their spiritual, emotional and physical well being. Exercise should be a daily habit—don’t diet, reduce your intake, more vegetables, more apples. I believe exercise is good for me.”

Lowe observes: “It’s never too late. The body really does respond well when it is taken care of.”

The PERFORM Centre is at 7200 Sherbrooke W. 514-848-4544.



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