Essentia Fitness & Therapy Center will move to former Younkers

Essentia Health is investing $15 million in the purchase and remodeling of the 145,000-square-foot former Younkers department store at Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. The Essentia Health Fitness & Therapy Center will move into the first floor this fall. Plans are being developed for the rest of the building and will be announced when they are finalized.

A news release from Essentia notes a benefit of the Miller Hill Mall location is “acres of free parking.” Moving some patients and staff to the mall location could also open more parking spots in Downtown Duluth.

The new Essentia Health Fitness & Therapy Center will fill half of the former department store’s first floor. It will offer a larger exercise area, more equipment and larger locker rooms. There will be a therapy pool, but no lap pool. The staff of trainers, teachers and therapists will stay the same.

The center offers patients and fitness members a place to exercise that’s staffed by medically trained professionals.

1 Comment


about 5 years ago

From the Essentia Health website:
* Essentia Mission: "We are called to make a healthy difference in people’s lives." 
* Belief Statement 4:  "We believe in the value of integrated health care services." 
* Belief Statement 5: “We believe in having a meaningful presence in the communities we serve." 

In the past few days, Essentia has kept repeating that this location is convenient. Exactly how is the mall more convent than downtown? Patients will have to be transported there from the hospital for therapy. The mall is slowly dying, hardly a destination, thus Younkers is available. If Essentia were smart, they would keep a fitness center with therapy and lap pools at the downtown facility, keeping  a "meaningful presence" in the community. Fitness centers with exercise machines are everywhere, not so pools with many hours for serious adult swimmers. Swimming is a great health-promoting exercise. Providing a pool is part of integrated health care, definitely within the purview of Essentia. Many Center for Personal Fitness members are unhappy with this decision, as are many Essentia staff, who will lose their big on-site fitness center, being left with a very small one at the hospital for their use. 741 people have signed a petition asking Essentia to keep a downtown fitness center with therapy and lap pools. Hundreds of postcards have been sent. Tearing down an existing facility makes no sense. What a waste.

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