Joining a gym is usually one of the first steps people take after deciding they want to start a healthier lifestyle. So, when John Freeman saw a flier in the teacher’s lounge at Riverside High School promoting Bon Secours HealThy Self, that’s exactly what he did. And now, 30 years later, the now 75-year-old still calls it one of his best decisions ever.
“I’d lost my mother in 1993, and I was kind of down and depressed,” he recalls. “I’d do a little bit of exercising at home, but I knew I needed to do better because I’ve always been blessed with good health, and I didn’t want that to change. So, when I walked into the faculty lounge and saw that advertisement for St. Francis, I went right down there to get signed up. I was very happy there from day one.”
HealThy Self is different from a standard gym – it’s a medical fitness program. That means it’s staffed with medical professionals who can help clients take charge of their own health and meet their fitness goals. Each new member does an initial assessment with an exercise specialist, like Julie Patrick.
“We have a highly educated staff – nurses, respiratory therapists and exercise physiologists with years of experience in the field,” she explains. “You’ll start out by filling out a medical history form. We are one of Greenville’s best kept secrets, and we are truly blessed to work in this facility and with these people!”
Julie adds that physical activity can help prevent or manage many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.
When he signed up, John says the staff showed him all the different machines and even helped design a workout routine, including specific exercises to help him get started. He now works out two to three days a week on the regular, getting in a full-body workout on 11 different machines and putting in some extra steps on the indoor track.
“I’ve stayed with them all that time – ever since 1993 – and the only time I ever missed was the pandemic when I couldn’t go because the gym was closed,” John adds.
In fact, when John joined HealThy Self, it was located on the 10th floor of Bon Secours St. Francis Downtown. It’s since moved to a new location – the St. Francis Millennium campus at 2 Innovation Drive – but he doesn’t mind the extra mileage.
“It’s worth the extra drive because the staff has been so good to me,” he shares. “They don’t pressure you at all – they’re just as helpful as can be and they’re there if you have any questions. As a teacher, I give an A+ to the staff there – they are outstanding and they’re the reason I’m still there.”
Fitness isn’t the only improvement John has seen since he joined the gym many years ago – his social circle has also grown.
“I’ve made a bundle of friends. We look forward to the times we have there.”
Staff members say the socialization that happens while at HealThy Self is just as important to one’s well-being as the time spent exercising.
“Members often engage with one another, care about one another, follow up with one another and sometimes even grab lunch together,” Julie explains. “We are often approached by a member voicing concern for those who have not been attending regularly. This is not only a sweet community of people, but it often looks like a fellowship time for many.”
Membership to HealThy Self is $35 per month and includes use of the entire specially designed facility, with modern weight and cardio equipment as well as a walking track. Group fitness classes for balance and conditioning are also available.
“I plan to hang in there as long as the good Lord is willing, and as long as they’ll have me – I’m very happy there,” John adds.
HealThy Self is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Learn about the health care services we provide at Bon Secours.