Blog Post


By George Dickson

Prescribing Fitness

John Cardillo has spent twenty years searching for the fitness "Holy Grail,"The Perfect Exercise Tool. He thinks he has found it. HealthCentre Clinics are being established across his organization of 32 Premier FitnessClubs and Mademoiselle Women's Fitness and Day Spas.

As early as he can remember, John Cardillo, CEO/founder of PremierFitness Clubs and Mademoiselle Women's Fitness and Day Spas has been on acrusade to find the perfect tool for exercise. At 14 years of age he became interested in both boxing and football during his high school years. Hebegan training with crude dumbbells and barbells, which were the only toolsof the trade at the time. His early instincts told him that there had to bea better way, and his mission for the past two decades has been to find it or create it.

Early on, he worked with a local welder to build his own equipment, starting with a calf machine training calf muscles to endure the punishingtask of fifteen intense rounds in the boxing ring. His drive to find thebest equipment available led him to many of the most prolific thinkers andinventors of the day in training, body building and equipment design.

Today, Cardillo is on a first name basis with many of these industry innovators, most notably Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus and creatorof MedX rehabilitation and medical assessment equipment. Jones gave birth tothe exercise equipment industry as we know it today when he introduced theNautilus variable cam system in the seventies. Designs were based onextensive research into muscle physiology and strength curves. Learning from people like Jones, Cardillo has honed his craft and understanding of themuscles and the fine movements and motions required to train them properly.Dueled by his keen interest in injury prevention and rehabilitation as wellas muscular and cardiovascular development, he has searched for the bestsystem of scientifically and medically based equipment to serve those purposes.

As he hung around the weight rooms and boxing gyms he realized theywere not really a place where the average person would feel comfortable. Asecond purpose in life began to take shape in his mind. Fitness foreverybody! This led him, as the age of 19, to open his first fitness centrein a 4,000 sq. ft. former closed-down karate school. His goal wasto be different than traditional gyms of the time with their "exercise pits," which intimidated the average prospect. He wanted toprovide proper facilities and guidance where people of all ages could getaccess to the best equipment and feel at ease in the environment, regardless of age.

What evolved is a process that Cardillo calls "Intelligent Prescriptive Fitness" which includes a comprehensive five step process including: Fitness Evaluation & Physical Assessment, Personal Program Consultation,Program Orientation, Nutritional Assessment, Follow-up Assessments and Consultations. While some of this may not seem very new or different, it is Cardillo's commitment to develop a new model of Health Centre Clinics intoevery one of his facilities, with sophisticated diagnostic equipment notfound in the average club combined with professional staff that has otherindustry owners and managers taking notice. One of the things Cardillo takesmost pride in today is that despite his success as a business owner and thedemands of building and operating one of the most recognized brands in theCanadian fitness industry, he still finds time to personally evaluate everypiece of exercise equipment that ends up on his gym floor.

As part of Premier's IPF program, the MedX isometric testing equipment will further enable the efficient diagnostic assessment allmembers undergo to establish their current fitness level and determine theirultimate fitness goals. Based on that data and the vision they have forthemselves, Premier's Clinic staff use the information from the testingto create a custom designed workout blueprint that offers a critical pathfor them to follow through a specified timeline to achieve extraordinaryresults where the client is someone with physical challenges or is fit.

Cardillo says that the industry has been missing the mark in thepast few years. It's not just about location, personal training, motivationor the amount of equipment that we provide for members. It's about providing quality exercise specialist knowledge and education. To accomplish this "weneed to provide better trained staff with higher qualifications." HisHealth Centre Clinics are now staffed by professionals: physicians,chiropractors, physiotherapists, registered dieticians and kinesiologists.As part of Premier's IPF program, the MedX isometric testing equipment willfurther enable the efficient diagnostic assessment all members undergo toestablish their current fitness level and determine their ultimate fitnessgoals.

As a believer in helping assess two of the most common problems people face, back and neck injuries, Premier’s Health Centre Clinics are beingequipped with MedX lower back and cervical neck computerized diagnosticequipment. These machines measure the strength of the lower lumbar area andthe cervical vertebrae. X-Ray equipment is also part of the new Health Centre Clinicmodel, which will be available to all members and part of the initialscreening process.

Once assessed, a line of twenty-two MedX machines will be availablein a private setting within the Health Centre Clinic where trainedkinesiologists will supervise groups of new members until they are ready andcomfortable to head out to the gym floor. Armed with the testing andanalysis from the computerized diagnostic equipment, these exercise specialists will be able to deliver a whole new level of education to helpmembers get the results they are looking for in the minimum amount of time.Training the very fine movements and motions of specific muscles that arehard to get at with traditional machines, Cardillo is banking on this approach to be "the perfect exercise tool" he has been searching for. A fullrange and variety of other equipment, each brand selected for their bestfeatures, will also be available to all members.

A quarterly fee will be required for these assessments and follow-up. Because of the sophisticated nature of these tests, Cardillo suggests members with extended medical coverage may be able to have theseassessments and quarterly reviews covered within their medical insuranceplans. Premier Health Centres' will be combined with a 2000 square foot clinic that combinesboth medical and fitness staff working together to bridge thefitness-medical gap. The revenue from Health Centres at the Hamiltonlocation represents almost 40% of gross revenue. One of these newlyconfigured operations opens this month in the new Erin Mills location inMississauga, Ontario.