In the five years since it opened on Baker Avenue in Concord, the Emerson Wellness Center for Mind and Body has become a popular destination for a range of individuals. Many take classes to get in shape, regain balance and lower stress. Others have a medical diagnosis, such as Parkinson’s disease or osteoporosis, that responds to a specific exercise regimen. Teens can take a babysitting class that builds confidence, and new classes are regularly added.
The Wellness Center has expanded — providing more reasons for area residents to take advantage of its considerable offerings. In the winter of 2018, the center added private treatment rooms for massage therapy and acupuncture. The Emerson Health Care Foundation is raising community support for the initiative. Thanks to a generous gift from the Steinberg-Lalli Foundation, the center is now known as the Steinberg Wellness Center for Mind and Body.
According to Christine Gallery, senior vice president of planning and chief strategy officer, the expansion represents Emerson’s ongoing commitment to carrying out a vision of preventive care.
“Wherever you are on your health care journey, prevention is key,” says Ms. Gallery. “Our Wellness Center isn’t a gym or a yoga studio, although we offer nine different yoga classes. We have classes for different ages and fitness levels, for disease-specific conditions, such as yoga for back pain and yoga for arthritis, fitness for Parkinson’s and heart health workshops.”
With so many classes to choose from — and so many highly-regarded instructors — people sometimes need guidance in selecting the right class. “Our wellness center director, Patti Salvatore, has tremendous expertise,” says Ms. Gallery. “She counsels people by asking what their goals are and is always ready to make a suggestion if she thinks there is another class that is a better fit.”
Building bone, flexibility and strength
Joan Curtice knew exactly what she needed when she signed up for Osteofitness, a class designed to build new bone through progressive strength training. When the Burlington resident was diagnosed with osteoporosis and given a prescription, she recalled an earlier conversation with her orthopedic surgeon. “I’ve had both hips replaced, and he told me that my mission in life is to keep my bones strong,” she says.
Rather than take medication, Ms. Curtice decided to take a different approach: she committed to getting strong. “I said to my physician: ‘give me two years.’ After two years of attending Osteofitness twice a week, I had improved to where I had osteopenia, a milder form of osteoporosis. As my bones got stronger that, too, is gone.”
Ms. Curtice continues to drive from Burlington to Concord for Osteofitness class twice a week. Her osteoporosis is gone, but there are other benefits. “The class strengthens my muscles, as well as my bones, and Beverley teaches us about the value of maintaining a calcium-rich diet,” she adds, in reference to Beverley Ikier, the instructor.
Years ago, Kim Jaeger joined a yoga class that was held in an Emerson Hospital conference room. “I experienced the benefits of yoga, so when the Wellness Center opened, I began taking Gentle Yoga,” says the Sudbury resident. “I had hip and lower back pain, so I’m taking the class for the stretching, inner peace and meditative benefits. Laraine Lippincott, the instructor, is wonderful. She focuses on body stiffness and the lower back, which really helps me.”
One day, Ms. Salvatore mentioned that she might like Essentrics, a full-body exercise program that strengthens and lengthens the muscles, decompresses the joints and rebalances the body’s muscular structure. The Wellness Center offers a couple of different classes, including Essentrics Gentle and Essentrics Stretch & Tone. “I absolutely love Essentrics, because you work your whole body by activating the entire muscular system,” Ms. Jaeger says.
Lauren Mayhew, the advanced certified instructor, modifies the exercises according to the individual student. “It’s a quick hour,” says Ms. Jaeger. “You know you’re doing something wonderful for your body, because it gives you renewed energy. “The Wellness Center is unique. We are so fortunate to have it nearby.”
Steinberg-Lalli Foundation gift supports Wellness Center expansion
Emerson’s Wellness Center is about maintaining good health, controlling one’s risks, getting fit and learning how to live in the most healthy way possible. That philosophy has been endorsed by the Steinberg-Lalli Foundation, which made a generous gift to support the center’s expansion.
The Steinberg-Lalli Foundation was established by Stephen Steinberg, owner and president of Acton Management, and the late Joseph Lalli, his business partner for many years. Mr. Steinberg acquires, manages and develops commercial and residential properties in the area.
“Emerson’s need to expand the Wellness Center goes along with all the other developments they have underway,” says Mr. Steinberg, a Concord resident. “All of it has coincided with Chris Schuster’s tenure as president of the hospital.”
Mr. Steinberg, a devoted squash player, founded the Concord Acton Squash Club. His daughter, Neely Sullivan, has taken a class at the Emerson center. Now that she plays a larger role with the foundation, Ms. Sullivan and her father discussed the need to make gifts that have a meaningful impact on the community.
“The gift to the Wellness Center accomplishes that,” she says. “It is consistent with what I believe, that we need to be proactive about health.”
The Steinbergs made a significant gift to Emerson in 2010 to renovate and expand the Breast Health Center in Concord, which was named in honor of Mr. Steinberg’s father-in-law, Mortimer B. Hermel, MD, a prominent radiologist.
Above photo caption: (Right to left) Stephen Steinberg, shown with his daughter, Neely Sullivan, and son, Randy Steinberg, endorses Emerson’s commitment to wellness.