An email Dr. Ari Levy wrote to himself 19 years ago was the genesis of an idea realized this year – the combination of medicine, fitness, nutrition, recovery and coaching under one roof – in a place he calls SHIFT.
Sunlight streams in from the huge windows of SHIFT’s new space in River North, illuminating the facility that combines state-of-the-art fitness equipment with hands-on medical care. I walked downstairs to meet Ari for a workout, something he whipped up on the turf full of every kind of workout toy imaginable.
Ari, internal medicine doctor, former doctor to the Blackhawks and founder of SHIFT, paved his way with achievements – receiving his MD from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, his MBA at the University of Chicago, and his certifications as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist.
Ari’s experience working with professional athletes who have the best healthcare and fitness resources available to them affirmed his long-held belief. When an integrated team is in charge of people’s wellbeing, health and physical fitness, they can make real change happen and help people live their healthiest lives.
It’s a different outlook on healthcare than we know – a world that’s come to embrace more of a bandaid solution than truly preventative care, and one that we continually spend more money on to no end.
And so Shift came to be, to provide those who want to invest in their health the means to get serious about real health. His diversely specialized team works cohesively as one unit to take care of patients, whether they’re in the medical space, the yoga studio, an interval training class or out in the world. This is Ari’s vision for the total picture of care.
Shift is a membership-based business, wherein members select one of three tiers of membership ranging from $3,000 to $7,500, which gives them access to corresponding elements of the program.
To help the team of doctors, coaches, specialists, physical therapists and yoga instructors understand their members’ whole health, they work as one team to provide a plan that meets each individual’s needs. No two members will work exactly the same way or need the same plan, which the team understands, so they tailor their approach and coaching style to be meaningful and impactful for the individual.
All of these details help the team build intentional plans for members, which are implemented in the physical spaces across the gym. The space as a whole having one distinct purpose: nothing is random, and it all weaves together to welcome and care for you.
For instance, in the fitness areas of the building, Ari wants members to experience “a little bit of fear and anxiety.”
“I want members’ hearts to be racing a little bit, but to go through that and endure it … [and to feel] alive and invigorated and like the amazing athlete you are after a great sweat,” he said.
Ari explained the attention to detail at Shift.
“The little touches matter, like having radiant heat on the floors and good water pressure and great heat when you take a shower, that’s so important,” Ari explained.
The experience with Shift doesn’t end when members leave. The team works with members schedules and lives, following up on health concerns and goals. Because the team sees every element of your life as a factor in your overall health, it all matters to them.
“We weave ourselves into the fabric of your life,” Ari said. “I don’t expect people to be here every day, and there’s going to be a whole set of people that will come from out of state, don’t live here and aren’t going to come here regularly … but [we are] building a community.”
According to Ari, those relationships lead to camaraderie and trust – allowing the team to do a better job.
Credit: A Sweat Life – Maggie Umberger