Active Wellness LLC, Sausalito, California, and St. Joseph Health, Irvine, California, announced a joint partnership on July 7 to develop new models for health, wellness, lifestyle management and illness prevention in work and residential settings.

"We did this joint venture to grow in that space," Active Wellness CEO Bill McBride told Club Industry. "We've always been committed to the wellness piece, and this partnership makes it more convenient."

Active Wellness was formed in June as a specialty management company and a subsidiary of Active Sports Clubs, which has eight clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to managing the eight clubs for Active Sports Clubs, Active Wellness manages 52 corporate, residential, multi-tenant, hospital fitness centers, commercial clubs and community centers. The majority of those sites were an asset purchase from Club One in 2014, McBride said.

The partnership will expand services nationwide for both organizations to employers, workforces and communities in the wellness space. Active Wellness currently operates hospital fitness facilities in Napa, Carlsbad and Brea, California.

The partnership gives St. Joseph Health, a non-profit health care system serving 3.7 million people annually, a fitness partner that offers health and wellness expertise. Active Wellness maintains a majority interest in the partnership.

“We’re thrilled to introduce Active Wellness to our communities,” St. Joseph Executive Vice President of Strategic Services Annette Walker said in a statement. “Bringing health and wellness closer to where people live and work is a passion of ours and, with this new partnership, we can truly impact keeping our communities healthy.”

Active Sports Clubs' relationship with St. Joseph Health began in September 2014 when it took over the Synergy Medical Fitness Center operations at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa.

"We started working together and started thinking, 'How can we integrate fitness, wellness and medicine in a product?'" McBride said. "They wanted to become partners, and we wanted to become partners with them."

The long-term strategy for Active Sports Clubs, McBride said, is to take medically integrated wellness services to other client sites. By partnering with medical facilities, Active Sports Clubs will be able to provide larger service offerings.

The approach is to create a new model of lifestyle centers, which will provide the full continuum of integrated care–acute care, fitness, healthy eating, preventive care, diagnostics and other areas–outside of clinical environments.

Managing hospital-based facilities offers profit potential, McBride said, because those centers run like big boxes with membership components.

"The challenge is how you integrate hospital fitness and medical wellness, make it mainstream and popular, where it is perceived as a preventative lifestyle product versus where people go to rehab and exercise," McBride said. "I think [the Affordable Care Act] is changing the mindset of the whole medical community that it's not just about treatment; it's about outcomes and long-term results. Outcomes and results make medical fitness and wellness centers more significant."