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Monday Letters: Don't raze fitness club vital for seniors

The Palos Health and Fitness Club. | Michelle Martin photo

The Palos Community Hospital has submitted a request to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to expand their South Campus located at 153rd and West Avenue in Orland Park. It details their plans to build a new building and extend parking. The fact that doesn’t appear in the application is that they intend to tear down the Palos Health and Fitness Club. I vehemently oppose that part of the plan.

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My husband and I have been members of this club for almost three years and wish we had discovered it sooner. We are both in our early 60s and I suffer from a disease that is similar to multiple sclerosis. The Palos Health and Fitness Club provides a setting where we both can maintain and improve our health both physically and socially.

Unlike any other health facility in the area, PHFC caters not just to health enthusiasts but also to people who require specific and sometimes gentler types of exercise offerings. PHFC has a 25-yard lap pool that is also used for water exercise as well as a warm-water therapy pool. This is the ONLY warm water pool in the south and southwest suburbs.

Warm-water therapy benefits a huge number of people including those with any kind of joint pain such as arthritis, persons who have had joint injuries, older individuals who have a harder time in colder water, and many others. Besides the usual Aqua Aerobics that are offered at every health club with a pool, PHFC regularly offers specialized classes free to members such as Senior Aqua, Arthritis Aqua, and my lifeline — MS Aqua. Instructors are trained and certified by American Arthritis Foundation or the Multiple Sclerosis Society and provide exercises designed to improve the movement, balance and cardiovascular health of the participants. Although there are facilities in the area that offer arthritis and senior programs, their pools only meet the minimum recommended temperature for those classes and therefore are still too cold for many.

There are no other MS Aqua programs in the south and southwest suburbs, the closest being Edward Hospital in Naperville. The MS Aqua group at PHFC has been there for 12 years and is the largest in the Chicago area and possibly the largest in the country.

Besides the pools, PHFC offers many other programs and exercise machines that are designed for those with health challenges not just the healthy that want to maintain their condition. Regular programs that are included as part of the membership fee include MS Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Young at Heart (cardio that incorporates using chairs for support), Tai Chi, Low Impact Fitness, Cycle Light, Ageless Grace (chair exercises) and Balance Basics. Equipment offered includes not just the usual health club offerings but also devices like the Nu-Step which is a recumbent (seated) machine that exercises both arms and legs. Trainers are available and happy to work with every member despite whatever limitations they may present.

The clientele during the day at PHFC is different than you’ll see at other health clubs. You will see healthy active members next to members who need the assistance of canes, walkers, wheelchairs and oxygen. All washrooms, locker rooms, showers and other areas have accessible accommodations, such as grab bars, large turning areas, and chair lifts at each pool. There are even two family/handicap locker rooms where a caregiver/spouse can help a member change for the pool or exercising.

Again, this is a facility like no other in the area. So the fact that they have supposedly worked with a couple of other clubs in the area to continue our membership means nothing to a lot of us. Those clubs do not offer close to anything that PHFC does for those of us who are less than already healthy.

While I don’t totally oppose Palos Hospital’s application to expand their Medical Office Buildings on this site, I sincerely oppose the demolition of the Palos Health and Fitness Club in the process.

Mary Ellen Smolinski, Mokena

Misleading the consumers

I am sick and tired of getting excited about seeing a low gas price at a local gas station only to find out that the advertised price of gas is only valid if you purchase a car wash. I don’t know about anyone else, but I do not get my car washed every time I fill up with gas. And just in case no one has noticed — it is winter — and I never get my car washed during extreme cold for obvious reasons.

The state of Illinois needs to do something to stop this practice of misleading consumers with bogus gas prices.

Daniel M. Filipek, Mount Prospect