14:21 PM

25 Years of the Summit

On January 13, 1996, the Summit Medical Fitness Center opened their doors as the first facility of its kind in the state of Montana. The facility was the product of years of planning to merge two facilities, the Health Promotion Center and Second Wind, to create a large medically-integrated health and wellness center. At the time, it was one of the only ones in the entire country.

Back then, Kalispell had a population of less than 15,000 people and a facility like the Summit was unheard of in the state of Montana, let alone the Flathead Valley. “I still remember that on that first opening night, there was a traffic jam all the way down Highway 93,” recalls Brad Roy, executive director of the Summit, one of ten employees who have been here since the beginning. “For a small community, this was a big deal. People were excited.”

The Summit’s medically-integrated programs offered by  highly credentialed staff is what has separated it from other facilities all these years. Programs such as physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation are offered within the facility. This allows patients to develop healthy habits that they can take with them beyond their scheduled appointments. Oftentimes, those who enter rehabilitation programs separate from a fitness center fail to continue doing what they need to at home and fall right back into the system. At the Summit, those who enter into the programs become accustomed to the routines throughout their time, and get to see exactly what they need to do to overcome their health disorders.

One of the truly unique programs that has come out of the Summit is the Journey to Wellness Program. This came about after the Summit took part in a Duke University grant study meant to measure if exercise training programs were beneficial for heart patients. The Summit was one of 63 sites for that study, the only non-university site chosen to participate. After successful results, they opted to continue the program for not just heart patients, but anybody who could benefit from health coaching.

A variety of transformations have expanded the Summit’s services over the years to fit the needs of the growing community. Initial estimates projected that the facility could offer services to 5,200 individuals. However, at its peak, the Summit reached more than 8,400 individuals thanks to expansions in both space and services. Over the years, the Summit has seen a variety of highly acclaimed guests stop by the facility including three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, Governor Marc Racicot and Senator Max Baucus.

The Summit takes pride in being able to serve people of all ages and medical backgrounds. With 114,500 square feet of space, there is plenty of room for anybody to find their place. In addition to a complete weight training area and over 75 pieces of cardio equipment, the Summit also offers an indoor track, regulation sized gymnasium, pool, spa, separate steam rooms and saunas for men and women, aerobic studios, racquetball court, tennis courts, group cycling area, rock climbing wall, turf workout area, and stretching area.

After hitting the quarter century mark, the Summit shows no signs of slowing down. In fact it’s quite the opposite. “The plan is to continue to progress both as a facility and a community partner” continues Roy. “We have some upgrades to make, there will be growth in the tennis and youth development programs, and we want to do more with nutrition. There’s lots of room to improve and we’re excited to continue on beyond the 25 year mark.”