East Bank Fitness Club to offer bariatric surgical preop and postop care

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Above a row of new restaurants on West 10th Street and below the region’s first Aloft hotel, construction workers are building another layer of theFlats East Bank project: An unusual fitness center that’s part gym, part weight-management clinic and part spa.

The East Bank Fitness Club, set to open by Oct. 1, will offer everything from bootcamp to Botox, making it the first downtown Cleveland workout facility with nutrition programs, hormone-replacement therapy, meal-planning and facials supervised by physicians. That mix, and the membership cost — $55 to $195 a month — is generating buzz among fitness buffs and downtown gym owners who have heard about the club’s pitches to major employers.

“When you walk in, it’s more like a boutique hotel than a gym,” John Fortuna, a local chiropractor who owns the club, said during a recent tour.

Far from finished, the 17,000-square-foot space looks over railroad tracks and the Cuyahoga River, with an outdoor deck for relaxation and yoga facing the Detroit-Superior — or Veterans Memorial — Bridge. Three group-exercise rooms, facing the river and Lake Erie, will host spinning, pilates, Zumba, kickboxing and an array of yoga classes, from basic to aerial.

Fortuna, who owns Ohio Injury Centers and is the director of chiropractic medicine at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, sees the marriage of fitness and anti-aging programs as both logical and profitable. He’s targeting executives where they work and reaching out to the growing share of companies with corporate wellness programs, money-saving efforts that reward or penalize workers based on their ability to meet health goals.

The East Bank club plans to cap membership at 3,000 people, Fortuna said.

The cheapest memberships include access to fitness equipment, locker rooms, saunas, a steam room, basic exercise classes and two hours of free parking. The costliest memberships involve unlimited attendance to intense conditioning and training classes, such as CrossFit, HumanSport and TRX Suspension Training.

Two doctors will oversee weight-loss and anti-aging programs. Dr. Jeff Romig, who focuses on nutrition and holistic medicine, expects to spend a few days a week at the East Bank club, where he’ll manage hormone-replacement therapy and what he calls “aesthetic medicine” — clearing up wrinkles, varicose veins, dirty pores and excess hair.

Dr. Kevin Huffman, an expert on obesity, will supervise the club’s weight-loss and maintenance programs. On top of setting up plans for gym members looking to shed a few pounds, he hopes to work with patients who need to follow an exercise regimen before and after weight-loss surgery.

Aside from a basic diet plan, these services won’t be included in a club membership. And the costs will vary widely.

“It’s not a traditional gym,” said Adam Fishman of Fairmount Properties, which is developing the Flats East Bank project with Scott and Iris Wolstein. “I think you have to offer today’s consumer a broader array of health-oriented opportunities and options to draw them in.”

In downtown Cleveland, the East Bank club’s early marketing efforts are provoking curiosity and some anxiety at other gyms. But with FitWorks at the 5th Street Arcades set to close Sept. 7, there will be roughly 2,500 people looking for a new place to exercise.

“Probably because of the closing of FitWorks, we’re not going to see a huge decrease,” said Adriana Skowron, the manager of Titans Gym on Prospect Avenue. “We’re not expecting it, anyway, because of our location. A lot of residential areas are right here, by us.

“I think the thing with the downtown gyms, including ourselves, is that a lot of them are housed within buildings that already existed or corporate buildings,” she said. “They’re not built from the ground up. A lot of them don’t have more than basic amenities.”

Membership at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland is holding steady, and the downtown branch is banking on a bump in traffic when it leaves its longtime Prospect Avenue home for a 40,000-square-foot space at the Galleria.

Rick Haase, the YMCA’s vice president of marketing, said the downtown branch has more than 3,400 members and aims to hit 6,000 after it moves. The YMCA is still fundraising and hopes to open the new downtown facility in late 2014.

“Northeast Ohio’s health and wellness market is incredibly competitive, and it has been for quite some time,” Haase said. “It’s fair to say we’re doing well. Some branches are better than others, but anytime someone else enters into the marketplace, that makes it more difficult.”

400 Primary Care Physicians heard our message this weekend

I had the pleasure of speaking to 400 Primary Care Physicians at the 2013 ACOFP Intensive Update and Board Review in Osteopathic Family Medicine in Chicago, IL this weekend.

ACOFP board review










These physicians were preparing for their board certification in Osteopathic Family Medicine and earned up to 21.5 CMEs including the one hour of CME for attending our presentation titled:  Bariatric Surgical Patient Care for the Primary Care Physician

This was a very attentive and very large group of physicians, who now better understand bariatric surgery and their role in preoperative and postoperative patient care.

We discussed the relationship between obesity and metabolic disease and the value of bariatric medical and surgical treatment options.  We reviewed the new ‘standards of medical care’ which reinforce the need to document BMI as a vital sign and how the BMI correlates with the diagnosis of overweight, obesity and morbid obesity.

By helping these key healthcare gatekeepers gain a better sense of their role in screening, treatment and referral of their obese patients, we hope to begin to have a much bigger impact from the PCP medical community on the obesity epidemic.



The focus of this presentation was to help these PCPs better understand the role bariatric surgery plays in the longterm management of morbid obesity and how they play a vital role in the preoperative and postoperative patient care plan.  Those of us in the bariatric community understand how important our patient’s own personal physician is in reducing risk, improving longterm outcome and increasing access to surgical care.

I had an opportunity to speak to several physicians following my presentation and this ‘focus group’ helped me better understand their specific concerns and needs so that going forward we can address those concerns and needs in our continued effort to educate and engage our US healthcare gatekeepers.

Heading up to Boston, MA next to educate and engage a group of region primary care physicians.  I’m confident that our efforts to educate and engage PCPs will result in improved access, reduce risk and improved outcomes.

I want to again thank Covidien and Cine-Med for their sponsorship and support with these important PCP outreach programs and ask my bariatric surgical colleagues to do the same.

About the Author


Dr. Kevin Huffman, medical director of Bariatric & Metabolic Institute, and board certified bariatric physician is well recognized as the leading medical authority in bariatric medicine and medical/surgical weight loss. Dr. Huffman has traveled extensively throughout the United States over the past 25+ years, treaching and mentoring physicians, nurses, and clinical staff in the art science and business of bariatric medicine.

Founder of the American Bariatric University and the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute, Dr. Huffman continues to expand his out reach to the medical community by promoting viable solutions to the medical weight loss and the obesity epidemic in the United States through CME accredited continued physician educational programs.





ACOFP 8th Annual Primary Care Physician Update

On Saturday August 10, 2013 I had the pleasure of presenting at the IL ACOFP 8th Annual Primary Care Update in Fairview Hts., IL.


Our CME approved physician educational event titled ‘The role of Primary Care Physicians in Obesity Disease Management’, shed light on how the emerging healthcare reform process will mandate PCP participation in obesity and metabolic disease management. We discussed the role of Primary Care Physicians in screening, treatment and referral of their overweight and obese patients.

Primary care physicians today realize that with healthcare reform comes mandated changes that most are not prepared to undertake.  Integrating a full service ‘physician supervised weight management program’ into an active primary care practice can be both costly and time consuming.

That’s why we built the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute, our web-based physician-patient e-learning and communication system, where our team of bariatric physicians, nurses and health coaches, can help busy primary care physicians reduce work loads and increase revenue while ensuring that their patients have access to the best technology and healthcare supervision available in the market today.

These CME events helps us get the message out to primary care physicians that whether they want to or not, they will be required by payers to screen, treat and refer their overweight patients.  As we shift from a fee-for-service to a fee-for-value healthcare model and ‘pay for performance’ dictates our income, nothing will better prepare your practice than a comprehensive obesity management program like our BMI system.

I want to thank Covidien and Cine-Med for their support of these important referring physician outreach educational events and would like to ask those of you in the primary care community to follow our national lecture series so that you can attend a CME event in your local community.

Or better yet, call us today at 866-270-5116 to learn how easily we can integrate a full service obesity management program into your practice for less than you might pay for your personal cell phone.  These programs are clinically and financially successful and will soon be mandatory for the primary care community.

About the Author


Dr. Kevin Huffman, medical director of American Bariatric Consultants, and the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute is a board certified bariatric physician and well recognized as a leading medical authority in bariatric (obesity) medicine and medical weight loss. Dr. Huffman has traveled extensively throughout the United States over the past 25+ years, treaching and mentoring physicians, nurses, and clinical staff in the art science and business of bariatric medicine.

Dr. Huffman continues to expand his outreach to the medical community, employers, insurers and policy makers by promoting viable bariatric medical and surgical solutions for those suffering from obesity and obesity related conditions, through CME accredited continued physician educational programs.