For the Botticelli family, what sets the Sentara RMH Wellness Center apart from other fitness facilities is how adaptable it is to their fitness needs.
Michael and Rebecca Botticelli, both physicians, have been working out at the Wellness Center since they moved to Harrisonburg in 2001.
Dr. Rebecca Botticelli, who practices family medicine, was drawn to the center’s group fitness offerings.
“I fell in love with the Zumba and yoga classes,” she says.
However, when she began having problems with a chronic health issue, she had to drop out of her classes. Her husband encouraged her to seek help from his personal trainer, who since has been working with Rebecca on her issues, one on one, twice a week.
“I was reluctant at first, but it’s awesome,” she says. “Even people I’ve never told about my condition have noticed a difference.”
Dr. Michael Botticelli, a gynecologist, says he goes to the Wellness Center every day, “unless my personal trainer tells me to take a day off.”
Michael mostly swims in one of the center’s pools. Three times a week, he meets with his personal trainer to work on his core strength and weight training. In the past, he’s had problems with back pain and arthritis in one knee, but he believes his workouts are helping him as he ages.
“I feel better,” says Michael, 51. “My lower back pain is gone, and I have more energy now.”
“He seems younger in his countenance now than he did when he started,” notes Rebecca.
A Family Affair
As an added bonus, in the past year, the couple’s three teenaged children—ages 16, 18 and 19—also have started working out at the center. The two younger ones accompany their dad three mornings a week at 5:15 a.m.
“I think they saw the health benefits we were experiencing, and they wanted to get fit, too,” Rebecca says. “Now that they’re seeing positive changes in themselves, they’re motivated to continue.”
All three Botticelli teens previously had knee issues—something they inherited from their dad, according to Michael. Since they started working with a personal trainer, however, they haven’t had any problems.
Although there aren’t many other teens at the Wellness Center at that time of the morning, everyone knows the Botticelli children by name.
“People can just be themselves at the Wellness Center—it’s a very relaxed atmosphere,” Michael says. “It’s not so much about bodybuilding or weightlifting. It’s just normal people who want to increase their fitness level and live healthier lives.”
A Medically Based Fitness Center
On the night of March 28, 2015, Jim Broderson had just finished playing basketball with his son at the Sentara RMH Wellness Center. As they stepped out the front door, he said to his son: “I don’t feel too good.”
“That’s the last thing I remember,” says Broderson, 73, a retired dentist who lives in Harrisonburg.
Broderson had experienced a massive heart attack. When he opened his eyes—more than a week later—he had no idea what had occurred.
“Due to the severity of the heart attack, they were afraid I would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of my life,” says Broderson.
Although it’s been a long journey back to good health since then, today Broderson is stronger and fitter than most men his age. He credits the Wellness Center with his excellent recovery.
“They did me a lot of good,” he says.
“A lot of other facilities cater to ‘apparently healthy’ individuals, but many don’t offer the specialty programs we do,” says Heather Moneymaker, the center’s fitness manager. “The most prominent example is the ProEx program.”
Short for Progressive Exercise, ProEx is a program through which healthcare providers can refer patients with chronic conditions, as well as those who are recovering from an illness or surgery. Based on a patient’s individual medical needs and fitness goals, as recommended by the referring healthcare provider, a ProEx fitness specialist designs a customized eight-week exercise program, and the patient attends two 30-minute sessions per week.
Broderson signed up for the ProEx cardiac program as part of the second phase of his recovery, following up on the first phase he had completed in cardiac rehabilitation at Sentara RMH Medical Center.
The Journey Back
Broderson’s journey back to the Wellness Center was a difficult one. The type of heart attack he experienced has just a 3 percent survival rate—and even for patients who survive, mental capacity is often very limited going forward.
“It was a long recovery,” he says. “The nights were horrible—endless nights when you don’t think you’re going to wake up in the morning.”
When Broderson was ready for physical therapy, three people carried him across his hospital room to a chair by the window. His first session consisted of just lifting each leg three times.
“During this time, my dream was to one day have someone tee up a golf ball for me so I could take a swing with a club,” he says. “And I wanted to stand five feet from a tennis net and swat a ball over it.”
Eventually, Broderson was able to walk up and down the hospital hallway with a walker. The next day, his nurse encouraged him to walk without the walker, leaning on her for support. Two weeks later, he was walking without assistance.
In May 2015, as Broderson signed up for the ProEx program at the Wellness Center, the receptionist realized he was the one who had “basically died out front.” She rushed to the center’s office to summon several other employees who had been praying for him.
“It was very emotional,” Broderson says. “They were all crying.”
At first, Broderson’s ProEx fitness specialist had him work on his arm strength. Soon he began doing squats while leaning on an exercise ball against a wall.
When his relatives planned a skiing trip for the following February, Broderson decided he wanted to go with them. So in December, he began working with one of the center’s personal trainers.
“And that’s when my life changed,” Broderson says.
He worked on his leg strength, core strength and balance, and by the time the trip rolled around, he could actually do a bit of skiing.
“Now my personal trainer says I’m in better shape than most people my age,” he notes.
These days, Broderson does 10 minutes of uphill work on the treadmill and squats with weights on his back. He’s also playing competitive tennis.
“Last spring I played my best golf game ever, and I’m one of the better pickle ball players on my team at the Harrisonburg Recreation Department,” he adds.
Although Broderson says he’s had a few setbacks, he’s learning to recognize when it’s OK to push himself and when he needs to take it easy.
“When I began with the personal trainer, she asked what I wanted to achieve with the training,” he recalls. “All my goals have been surpassed.”
Something to Fit All Interests and Ages
The Wellness Center offers a range of popular group fitness classes, from aquatics and BODYCOMBAT® to yoga and Zumba.
Metabolic Meltdown sessions, intensive 30-minute workouts that focus on speed, strength, agility and cardio, are offered three times a day.
The center’s three pools are also a big draw. The heated 25-yard indoor fitness pool has six lap lanes and open swim times, and also hosts water classes.
The warm-water pool, which is available for recreational, therapeutic and fitness use, is a perfect environment for water aerobics classes, swim lessons and therapy.
The center also has a whirlpool, as well as saunas in the men’s and women’s locker rooms.
In addition, the Wellness Center features a Pilates studio, a basketball court and an indoor track. Plus, the center provides child care for members, as well as children’s fitness programs.
The center also includes the Shop, where members can purchase fitness clothing and swimming gear, and the Trackside Café, which offers sandwiches, soups and salads.
The Wellness Center at a Glance
Visit the Wellness Center online at rmhwellnesscenter.com
The center offers free tours and monthly membership specials. To learn more call 540-564-5685.