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I NTERV I E W

PHOTO: THE CLAREMONT CLUB

Alpert has dedicated decades of his life to supporting people with special needs

Mike Alpert Kath Hudson talks to the thought-leader and trailblazer

While you were CEO of The Claremont Club in California, you introduced a number of exercise as medicine programmes. How did this come about? For me, the inspiration first came in the early 90s, when I had a club in Oregon and worked with a five-year-old who had spina bifida. Seeing the powerful impact that coming to the club had on him changed my life and made me want to do more. Years later, after I had moved back to California and joined The Claremont Club, I saw Julie Main give a speech at IHRSA, about the work she was doing at her clubs in Santa Barbara. I asked her if she would share her template and allow us to customise it. The first programme we launched was the Living Well after Cancer programme, in 2006. It focused on women who had had breast cancer, although there were a few with other cancers. This evolved into a partnership with Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and Robert & Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center. 58

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We offered a twice-weekly, 13-week programme, with cardio, strength, conditioning, nutritional advice and oncology massage. We soon realised all these women had families which also needed support, so we extended free club membership to all of them. Altogether we helped more than 1,340 women and their families, including eight small men’s groups. Following the success, we went on to launch our Pediatric and Young Adult Cancer programme. Again this treated the entire family at no cost. It was a year-long programme which met twice a week, but they could use the club at any time. Everything we offered at the club was free including 13 weeks of summer camps, field trips, Kids’ Friday Night Out, Breakfast with Santa and each child could bring their best friend as well. How were these programmes funded? It all came off the bottom line. However, the programmes ended up making us more money, because our customers really liked what we

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