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Do You Provide Exercise Facilities for Your Residents?

Recently, members of the AAMC Group on Resident Affairs (GRA) addressed this question via their listserve. The following edited responses, with identifying information removed, are reprinted with the permission of the GRA.

As university employees, they have access to the University recreation center.

We provide a room with a treadmill and weight machine....rarely used.

We provide an annual subsidy (minimal) toward health club membership at a club of their choice. The hospital does not have its own exercise facility.

We provide a small gym on site, which is open 24 hours a day and available only to residents and medical students.  It houses several free weight systems, and several pieces of fitness equipment such as treadmills, stationary bikes, and stairmasters. In addition, we subsidize part of their membership fees ($207 annually) to the University's intramural program, which gives them access to all fitness facilities, pools, and gymnasiums throughout the University. Both options are very popular and widely utilized.

We provide a typical small exercise facility, with weights, treadmills, etc, on the major teaching hospital's campus. Through our affiliation with the university, our residents also have access to the University's wellness center. It is about 3 miles from our campus, but it is a huge, modern, state-of-the-art facility that offers any kind of equipment and program you can imagine.

We have a branch of the regional YMCA on site. All employees (residents are employees) who have a YMCA membership can use the facility. All other employees can purchase a membership good only at this YMCA site at a discounted fee. The facility includes the usual array of treadmills, stairmasters, elliptical trainers, weight machines, and free weights, as well as locker rooms with showers. It is open from 5:30 am to 7 pm M-F and 7am to 4 pm Saturday, closed Sunday. It is very underutilized.

On the GME wing at the hospital we have a room with a treadmill and a room with games (foosball, air hockey). In addition, each resident and fellow is provided an ID card that allows them to use the outstanding gym, fitness center, and playing fields at the university. This complimentary benefit for house staff is paid for by the hospital—a major coup during negotiations some years ago. Institutional support by the institutions for this benefit is greatly appreciated.

Both of our affiliate hospitals provide for resident use an on-site exercise room (the size of one- or two-patient rooms) with a treadmill, bike, and weights. Residents also get a considerably discounted membership to a local mega-gym.

Our resident council has suggested that we do so, and the medical staff of two hospitals have contributed funds and equipment for an exercise lounge, reserved for resident use only, in each of the hospitals.  They are popular for residents taking in-house call and also sometimes while waiting for rounds or after work. There are showers nearby. They both have treadmills, an elliptical machine, and free weights, and one has a weight machine and exercise balls.

We currently do not have on-site or dedicated facilities for our residents, but our institution has negotiated discount rates with a number of local fitness clubs in our area who have agreed to offer employee discounts. Residents are eligible for these same discounts as other employees, with reduced membership fees ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent for initial and/or continuing membership. We do not have any statistics on utilization rates specific to residents.

We have had a very small exercise room for about 6 years; I was given $20,000 to furnish it 7 years ago. The residents have complained about the space (it is small and has an inconvenient layout) and the equipment, which does need updating. We have free weights, a stationary bike, treadmill, and a stairclimber. Someone donated a TV and also a nice radio for the room, but the size made use by more than 3 at a time awkward. The hospital has recently begun construction on a new state-of-the-art gym, which will occupy space vacated by another department. The building is located across the street from the hospital, and will be for students and residents only.

We offer free access to a rehab gym in the hospital from 6 pm to 6 am for residents on call in the hospital. The gym includes several aerobic workout machines and at least one weight machine. There are plans to include a larger facility in upcoming new construction, but the details of possible cost, equipment, and hours have not all been worked out yet.

When the university built its neuroscience hospital some 10 years ago, it included an exercise facility for residents. The facility offered half-court basketball, dumbbells, an elliptical trainer, treadmills, and an exercise bicycle. Since the four hospital buildings are contiguous, it was thought that residents could exercise and not have to go outside while on call. The gym was popular at first, but lately the utilization rate has been nil. Since we are on the same campus as the undergraduate system, there are two large student recreation centers within a short walk, offering an Olympic pool, fencing, martial arts, aerobics, free weights, machines, and aerobic equipment. The cost is $75 per year.  Residents use these two facilities fairly regularly when off call. 

Another option is the university wellness center, which is a short drive from campus.  It offers an indoor pool, aerobics, machines and free weights, and elliptical trainers, steppers, treadmills, rowers, etc. A full staff of trainers and therapists is on site at all times, and this is where most cardiac and ortho rehab is done. This cost is $49 per month for residents, and every time I have gone there I find at least one (and often more) residents working out....early morning, nights, post-call, etc. It is just as popular with faculty. Given the added time (to reach the center) and cost I can only attribute this to the need for social interaction and ambience as well as the need to exercise!

We have a 4-year-old wellness center located on campus, within easy walking distance of the hospital .  The center is open for all employees and students from the college. It has treadmills, stairclimbers, elliptical trainers, as well as a basketball court, volleyball, an indoor running track, exercise classes, and the services of individual fitness trainers. 

There are programs for children and families. Residents' monthly costs are $20 for an individual membership and $40 for a family. The center is open 7 days a week, with fewer hours on the weekend compared to the weekday schedule of 5:30 am to 10:00 pm. There is a reasonably high utilization rate by the residents, as the center is very competitive with local athletic clubs.

We were fortunate to have one of our private medical groups create a completely furnished gymnasium for housestaff only. It is fair-sized and in the hospital basement next to resident sleep rooms (and 2 nap rooms!), with dedicated men’s/women’s bathrooms and showers. It has:

  • Stairmaster Treadmill
  • Nautilus Leg Press
  • Stairmaster Elliptical Trainer
  • Quantum Hi Lat/Mid Station
  • Stairmaster 3400 Stationary upright bike
  • BATCA Fitness System
  • Six weight lifting benches / stations
  • 20 lockers

It is in use 24/7 with residents on call, especially in the late afternoons/evenings, as you might guess. Utilization is difficult to measure, but those that use it regularly say it is a real perk.
Before we had this wonderful setup, we offered the residents the same discounts on health club memberships that the hospital offers to all employees. This was pretty nice, and the residents still have that option—some of the health clubs are probably located closer to their homes. We also cut a deal with the local junior college a few blocks from here for all employees to use their fitness center. 

We do not provide this specifically for residents. We do have an onsite health club and pool that residents can join for a discounted fee.

We have three options.

  • In the resident call quarters we have a Universal weight setup, treadmill, and exer-cycle, as well as an area to stretch and do sit-ups. This is used every day by some residents.
  • Within the medical complex there is a slightly larger area with more machines that is open 24 hours per day for all employees and is accessed via id badge; it is utilized less than the above
  • Close to the medical center there is a full privately owned club with exercise, swimming, and indoor tennis, for which all employees receive a monthly discount; the college has full facilities available for a similar discount. Too expensive for some, but utilized still.

At our institution, we have a "wellness center" on the main campus. All students, residents/fellows, faculty, and employees are invited to join through an annual membership fee. It has an indoor running track, indoor Olympic-size pool, racquetball, tennis and basketball courts, and all types of exercise equipment. It also has outdoor tennis courts on the roof. The GME Office pays the membership fee ($300) for any resident/fellow who wishes to join; this is reported as taxable income on the residents' and fellows' W-2 forms.

Our university has built a well equipped, health club caliber exercise facility very close to our hospital. Residents can elect to enroll at a discounted fee as a payroll deduction.

No; space around here is in short supply, and since this doesn’t make money for the hospital, it doesn’t come up on anyone’s radar screen. Housestaff have several options—they can use the campus recreation facilities, or, even closer, just across the road is a community center, with a pool and wonderful exercise facilities. The center has recently lowered its rates to be very similar to what most gyms in the city charge per month, so many housestaff and faculty are seen over there at all hours.

We provide a modest gym containing a treadmill, an exercise bike, weights, etc (some of which were donated), in our residents' on-call area. It is free but somewhat underutilized. Several local health clubs also offer discounted memberships, which we do not underwrite.

We have two options for our housestaff. On the main campus there is an excellent university sports center, which they can use for the same modest annual fee as undergraduate and graduate students. On our main medical campus downtown, the university has an contract with a plush private exercise facility three blocks away. Housestaff may choose to join at a very cheap rate.

We have a weight lifting machine and ping pong table in the resident call room area. In addition all our employees may join the on-campus wellness center for a reasonable fee; it offers full cardio, weights, training, etc.