The Colorado Center for Health and Wellness at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is now a reality. They opened their doors for the media and public in April to preview the facility. I attended a Walk with the Surgeon General event on 4 April where we met outside the building. I then attended a local blogger preview later in the month to tour the interior. I am very excited about this resource available to the local and online community.
The concept of this health and wellness center is ground-breaking in itself as part of the medical campus because it deals with “healthy” people. In medical settings we generally focus on people once there is a problem. What happens when people are at a baseline of being healthy (thus not in need of medical attention) and want to avoid needing future medical attention? This center is taking a proactive approach to preventative medicine, much like goals of our current Surgeon General. Beyond baseline assessments and obesity research there is a spectrum of care and examination leading to elite endurance athletes and how they can maximize how their bodies’ function.
The concept of the center is to be present for the local community by radiating their messages around their physical space. This means quality access to healthy food and fitness opportunities to the medical campus, then the local Aurora community, and onward through Colorado. Working in the digital age their messages will be broadcast with the help of in-house media departments (video, audio, and web) as well as curated access to collected data.
We began our tour with the cafeteria that is open to the public. Note the wall herb wall acting as a pillar in front of the cafe where herbs are utilized with the food. Menu offerings include detailed information with more detailed access available online. Food will be sourced as locally as possible and arrangements will be made for dietary restrictions if they are not already addressed on the menu.
Here is a peek of the research kitchen that will be utilized for demonstrations as well as calibration of research diets to prepare meals and analyze any food not eaten as part of these monitored diets.
There will also be a demonstration and test shopping layout for center participants to utilize. It was merely a bare room when I toured so I did not bother to take a picture. However I want to give super high-fives to Kroeger (who is King Soopers here in Denver) for sponsoring this space. I love this message that you do not need to shop at a higher-end, health food store to have healthy options. Health is accessible to almost everyone once you know how to navigate the stores.
The other main part of the first floor is the fitness facility.
I love this facility because everything is monitored. If you are working out here you are part of a research program (which you can apply for) or you bought a membership. The pricing to join does not undercut other facilities in the area out of fairness, but it is a major value for what members have access to. This is a reduced-price for all the services because all your activities are monitored to help maximize your efforts as well as collect data for researchers. This is done via keys participants use to utilize machines.
If you are a member and not part of a research project your numbers are being watched anyway. If a staff member notices a trend that you can be improving your machine will notify that a consultation is available. The center also offers tests that can be very costly, but the incentive to test your progression is met with reduced future tests (because the center will utilize your collected data). Center data collection and community members having access to this world-class facility and trainers is a WIN-WIN situation!
The second floor includes the indoor track and some of the fun visual components of this facility.
The second floor also includes the clinical portion of the facility. In an effort to push collaborations between projects there are no static work areas. No practicioners use the same exam rooms or computers unless it is extremely specialized equipment that is needed. This is very progressive in a medical setting because of the reduction of ego that comes with ownership. The layout for the workstations reminded of me of my grad school lab situation.
There is specialized equipment though. Recognize these machines?
The third floor is where the researchers utilize the observations collected from the first two floors for publication, information dissemination for the public, and further collaboration. The area is not a segregated “academic ivory tower” though because this floor has a rooftop garden that will be accessible to the public if they want to enjoy the space.
I am looking forward to seeing what products this facility will produce in terms of long-term data acquisition that will be available to other researchers. If this facility does produce openly curated information then student and professional researchers can build on this body of knowledge from anywhere else in the world. I am also looking forward to seeing how their subject matters advance. The obesity research is not just physical or food but also looks at the psychological component that I think is overlooked most of the time. There is also an opportunity for researchers to work with world-class elite athletes that are abound in the Colorado Front Range.
I am headed back to the facility next week as part of the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference where top-level Wellness Center researches will address us bloggers about what they are working on. I am a geek and love academic symposiums (which this will most likely be). I’ll tweet and update what I learn. I also get to hang with fellow Fitfluential and Wellsphere people which is always fun for networking and laughs.
If you are not going to this conference, check out this facility any way. If you live locally and want to check it out then contact them. If you are visiting the area then also drop them a line to check it out. Remember, they are trying to radiate their mission and information out to physical and online communities.