Yorktown health club takes holistic approach
Nutrition, cooking and exercise converge to complement medical care
By Prue Salasky
November 17, 2013
Chair dance for those with compromised mobility, nutrition counseling for diabetics, and intense circuit workouts exist side by side at a recently opened “modern health club” in York County.
As preventive care and lifestyle become integral parts of health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the traditional gym is taking on a new look. LWell, longevity wellness, owned by Jon and Caroline Fornshell, aims to bridge the gap between clinical care and health maintenance.
“We’re six weeks out from being a credentialed diabetic program,” said Caroline Fornshell, a registered dietitian and physical trainer. “Our goal is the remission of Type 2 diabetes.”
View/Submit Comments for this story
The Virginia Tech graduate, a 36-year-old mother of three — 14-month-old twins and a 5-year-old — has a slew of classes and workouts for diabetics that will soon be covered by insurance. Medicare coverage will also kick in in 2014.
“We just received our first referral from Riverside Suburban Family practice,” she said. Part of her health club’s mission is to work alongside doctors and maintain communication with them about members’ health. She has also established a partnership with Tidewater Physical Therapy to help provide streamlined care.
For Scott Lung, 49, a Williamsburg resident who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 20, the nutritional instruction offered promises to help him monitor and improve his health.
“I want to know more about my body. Caroline is one of the key people in the wheel,” he said.
Lung already receives regular medical care at the Lackey Free Clinic in Yorktown and works out at the Ironbound Gym in his neighborhood.
“I’m trying to lose what I call ‘a gut,'” he said, indicating his midsection. Lung said he takes eight different medications for a variety of conditions, including lupus and a history of stroke, and his body reacts unpredictably to insulin, which creates hard-to-control swings in his blood sugar.
“I thought I was supposed to stay away from greens because I take Coumadin (a blood thinner), but I’ve discovered I can eat celery,” he said. He also learned from Fornshell that he’s eating too many nuts as part of an otherwise heart-healthy diet. “I’m slowly learning to figure out what’s going on,” he said.
The nutritional aspect of Lwell also appealed to Maureen Archer, 50, a York County resident and business owner, who has had severe arthritis in her knees for the past couple of years.
In the few weeks the health club has been open, she said she has participated in chair dance, yoga and dance fitness classes and has received nutritional counseling.
Fornshell recommended a diet of anti-inflammatory foods to combat the arthritis. “I’m really excited because she’s a nutritionist. I’m staying away from sugar and starchy vegetables now. I’m definitely using whole grains,” said Archer, who has lost seven pounds. She has shared her excitement and progress with her doctor.
Flushed from a high-energy dance class, Hanna Lyerly, who lives near the Kiln Creek area center, has also taken advantage of the nutritional advice offered. “It’s not something you automatically know growing up,” she said. “The nutritional classes really help, especially with the visualization with a plate and recipes.”
Slim and fit, she’s committed to staying healthy, wanting “to stay away from the diabetes epidemic.”
Not just diabetics
Fornshell’s background includes work with “intensive lifestyle intervention” for diabetics at the Lackey Clinic locally, and in Maryland at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Both showed measurable clinical results, she said.
At LWell, she works in tandem with Jennifer Marshall, a behavioral therapist. Marshall, who has herself lost 60 pounds, has extensive experience involving weight loss in military families. “Working with Jennifer helps it stick,” said Fornshell, as the duo combines practical and motivational advice.
Friends and family often sabotage weight loss, they said, citing comments like, “You used to be my ice cream buddy.”
Their program is presented as an effective alternative to bariatric surgery for similarly long-lasting results.
“Only 5 percent of those eligible for the surgery do it,” said Fornshell. A member of her college culinary team and a vegetarian, she also teaches cooking classes to bolster her nutritional messages. “I meet them where they are,” she said, noting she recently adapted a menu for a “meat-and-potatoes guy” and doesn’t unduly push vegetarianism.
Marshall characterizes their holistic approach as being for a lifetime. She meets with members individually and in groups on Fridays.
The club offers six-week challenges to improve HbA1C (blood sugar) outcomes, and has a targeted six-week “holiday weight-loss package” to help people through the holiday season. “There’s a lot of anxiety about weight gain during the holidays,” said Fornshell, promising to be on participants “like white on rice.”
She’s committed to members achieving a clinically significant outcome. Though she believes that a year is a realistic time-frame to obtain the desired results from lifestyle change, she is offering three-month introductory memberships.
“We want people to have fun. If we can bring them back and they’re happy and having their needs met, then they’ll be successful,” said Fornshell.
LWell, longevity wellness
• What: “A modern health club for real people” has classes six days a week, including exercise, nutrition, diet, cooking and counseling. Open seven days.
Where: 301 Village Ave., York County
Information: 757-585-3441 or http://www.LWell.com
Source: Daily Press
Salasky can be reached by phone at 757-247-4784.