July 29, 2015 Healthy Living

The Ciccotti Center: The First Certified Medical Fitness Facility in New York

Following three years of rigorous and intensive preparation, the Rudy A. Ciccotti Family Recreation Center in Albany has achieved the coveted status of a certified medical fitness facility. It is the first fitness facility in New York to have earned that distinction, and one of only 47 medically integrated fitness centers in the world.

Certified medical fitness centers are a great resource if you are in need of preventive or rehabilitative support to manage a medical condition, or if you simply need additional guidance and education to achieve optimal health and fitness outcomes. Now that the Ciccotti Center’s medically integrated fitness program has been certified by the Medical Fitness Association (MFA), you can be assured the facility has met stringent criteria that ensures top-quality, accountable, safety-driven programming; medical oversight; and professional staffing and expertise.

What sets a certified medical fitness facility apart from the average gym?

Generally, fitness facilities without medically integrated programming tend to focus more on enhancing physical appearance and fun, trendy approaches to exercise, rather than on optimal health, wellness, and quality of life. By contrast, those facilities that are guided by medically sound principles and staffed by specially trained and educated personnel may be a safer and more effective choice, especially for those recovering from surgery, managing serious or chronic illness, or seeking to reduce their health risks.

What’s involved in the certification process?

Fitness facilities seeking medical certification are judged on several key elements. These include level of medical oversight, quality management, pre-activity screening, risk management and emergency response protocols, programs and services supporting community health, children/youth and aquatics programs and policies, staff education and credentialing, and facility operations.

According to Adam Cernauskas, Ciccotti Center fitness manager, “Becoming certified as a medical fitness facility is no small undertaking. It involves an intensive three-year evaluation process that documents our level of compliance with 400-plus rigorous standards and guidelines established by the MFA. I am pleased to report that the Ciccotti Center achieved an impressive score of 93 percent in its evaluation.” This certification review process, which must be repeated every three years, affirms that the facility and staff can deliver a safe, medically integrated, and outcome-driven fitness and exercise program.

What medically integrated fitness programs does the Ciccotti Center offer?

Through its eight-week Next Steps program, the center works collaboratively with physicians – and in consultation with its medical advisory board – to offer individualized fitness assessments and closely supervised exercise regimens for clients with a variety of medical conditions. Upon physician referral to the eight-week program, participants complete a health history and undergo a pre-activity screening and risk assessment before beginning twice-weekly group fitness sessions with their trainer. During that period, they are encouraged to take advantage of all the programs and classes offered by the facility (as appropriate for their condition). Upon completion of the program, they undergo a post-activity assessment, and their physician receives a report detailing their pre- and post-treatment health and fitness status.

Currently, the Center has developed therapeutic fitness programs for nine conditions. Most of the programs allow transition to full membership at the facility (with waiver of the enrollment fee) so participants can continue to enhance their health and fitness level.

  • Cancer – fitness regimens that help combat fatigue and depression, restore muscle function and range of motion, and manage the side effects of cancer treatment
  • Diabetes/pre-diabetes – healthy diet and lifestyle education combined with tailored physical activities and weight-management guidance
  • Orthopedic surgery or injury – a fitness program designed to extend the beneficial effects of rehabilitation, restoring strength, function, and endurance
  • Prehabilitation fitness – a program to help those preparing for surgery get in shape in the hopes of reducing recovery time and improving surgical outcomes
  • Heart conditions – an exercise program tailored for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease or those who have undergone cardiac surgery and completed the second or third phase of their cardiac rehabilitation
  • Pulmonary fitness – a fitness regimen designed for clients with respiratory or pulmonary conditions who have completed a hospital-based therapeutic program and who may need their vital signs monitored during exercise
  • Weight management – a program that offers a balanced approach to weight loss and management, emphasizing realistic goals and proven strategies for success in achieving a healthy diet, activity level, and lifestyle
  • Functional fitness – a gentle fitness program incorporating multiple exercise disciplines to help people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and other autoimmune conditions increase their range of motion and comfort level
  • Transitional care – a preventive fitness program designed for persons at risk of developing serious health conditions and those who are transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle

What other programs and services are provided at the Center?

In addition to its medical fitness services, the 72,000-square-foot Ciccotti Center provides member-based programming and services for youth, adults, and seniors of all fitness levels, interests, and abilities. The facility features an expansive indoor water park, gymnasium, and state-of-the-art fitness center and offers an extensive array of more than 70 fitness classes per week. Additional services available include massage therapy, nutritional counseling, personal training, weight management, aqua therapy, swim instruction, and summer day camps.

With the rising incidence of chronic disease in the United States, the health industry is focusing increasing attention on preventive care and population health management. As we continue to explore ways to optimize the health of our community, fitness facilities like the medically certified Ciccotti Center will likely assume an even greater role as integral partners in the continuum of care.

And whether or not you qualify for a medically integrated fitness program or are at risk for a chronic disease, you can always boost your health and fitness level by participating in the wellness workshops and fitness classes offered by CDPHP®.

Adele O'Connell
About the Author

Adele joined CDPHP in 2004 as an internal communications and event specialist. She then spent eight years coordinating the company’s community relations and corporate events program, in which capacity she worked with a host of non-profit organizations and co-chaired the CDPHP annual Charity of Choice campaign. Currently, she is a communications specialist and coordinator of corporate member engagement and serves on the boards of two local charities. Prior to CDPHP, Adele served as a legislative assistant for a trade association and as an acquisitions and developmental editor, specializing in educational and medical publishing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Rosemont College.

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