Posted: Monday, January 22, 2018
Working out and changing dietary habits is not always an easy task, and can be made even more difficult when combined with substance use and/or mental health issues. InShape, a comprehensive, evidence-based practice for the improved health and longevity of people experiencing mental illness, opened its doors to clients at The Providence Center (TPC) in 2010.
The Center’s InShape program is a part of its Wellness, Employment and Education Program, a group dedicated to helping people recover from mental health and substance use issues through achieving overall wellness and living a full and productive life.
InShape is led by five full-time health mentors: Lauren Mancini, Jennifer Lopez, Jervis Rosario, Patrick Fogarty, and Sydney Libby. These mentors are all certified personal trainers who hold bachelor’s degrees. On average, each mentor works with about 25 individuals on a weekly basis.
Health mentors meet with their clients both one-on-one as well as through group classes such as yoga, circuit, core training, and wellness and nutrition. They educate clients on healthy eating by discussing portion control and by making sense of food labels. Health mentors also take clients grocery shopping help them through the decision making process, for example, replacing potato chips with nuts or replacing white bread and pasta with whole wheat products.
TPC’s InShape also runs a men’s health group and a women’s health group each week, so that clients can learn about health issues unique to their gender.
“Our main goal is to get clients to a place where they can manage their own eating habits and workout routines when they finish the program,” said Melissa Rossi, Manager of TPC’s InShape since 2011. “We want people to benefit from this program and continue working out and staying healthy afterwards.”
Length of participation is on an individualized basis depending on where the client is physically and mentally. Some clients may take up to six months to become fully engaged in the program, while others may only take a month.
To help get clients motivated and excited about getting healthy, the InShape team is constantly introducing new activities and classes.
“Everyone is different. Some people like dancing and aerobics while others prefer going to the park and doing circuit workouts. We really try to incorporate a number of activities into the program so that there is something for everyone,” added Rossi.
Through its partnership with YMCA, TPC has provided InShape clients who are ready to work out on their own with three-month membership passes. They have access to workout equipment, a pool, and basketball court, as well as group classes like water aerobics and spin.
“Our health mentors have also taken clients to CrossFit and boxing gyms to introduce them to new workouts they may have never tried,” said Rossi. “If someone has a particular interest in a sport or fitness activity, we’ll try to get them access to see if it’s something they want to do.”
For those who aren’t fond of the gym setting, InShape mentors provide a number of exercises that can be done at home or in their neighborhood. They also introduce clients to outdoor hobbies like hiking and playing Frisbee at the park.
Not only does InShape help clients build confidence and motivation to work out and eat healthy, it also provides peer support.
“Clients in the program are very supportive of one another and their fitness journeys,” said Rossi. “Their readiness to help each other really creates positive environment and conversation around health and wellness.”
In Shape is open to all of TPC’s adult clients from the organization’s Health Home teams and offers many options to help improve clients’ well-being and quality of life. To learn more about the program contact Melissa Rossi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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