Healthy Living Program welcomes community Saturday

Mayo Clinic chef Jen Welper explains the nutritional aspect of optimal health in a teaching kitchen at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. At left is nutritionist Emily Brown.

Mayo Clinic's Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center building expansion has fitness built into it, such as sun-laden stairwells that encourage people to take them instead of elevators.

The expansion of the 2007 building, which opens next week, began in 2012 and includes granite-faced walls, stone stairwells and a full "living wall" of plants that creates a tapestry.

An open house Saturday will be followed by a "soft opening" of the Healthy Living Program on Monday for current patients and more extensive offerings starting June 2.

It won't be unusual to smell food when you enter the Healthy Living Program on floors 4, 5, 6 and 7. Healthy-cooking courses include individual kitchen-learning stations with an overhead video so everyone attending can see the chef instructor.

The subway level and floors 1 and 2 will remain for Mayo employees only. Floor 3, where the new Sports Medicine Center is housed, and floors above it will be available for the public to join programs.


The Healthy Living Program is split into "Pillars of Wellness" — assessment, wellness coaching, nutrition, physical activity and resiliency.

It's part of the movement away from treating and toward preventing injury and illness.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, medical director of the Healthy Living Program, said the resiliency aspect has surprised many of the 100 patients who participated in a pilot program.

Resiliency is "how you cope with life," said Jim Yolch, Healthy Living Program operations administrator.

Many people have not been exposed to tai chi, meditation or mindfulness, Hensrud said. But they find such activities become some of the most important to their daily lives once they leave Dan Abraham's standard four-day program.

Nutrition, resiliency and physical fitness are key for participants.

"They're pleasantly surprised how those three pillars kind of feed off each other," Yolch said.

Integral to the four-day, $4,500 experience is six months of electronic connection between the Mayo patient and his or her Healthy Living Program coach.


The goal is for patients to put what they learn into practice once they get home.

"We're designing some immersive programs, we're individualizing it to the patient and, most importantly, our focus is what people do after they leave," Hensrud said.

A la carte offerings are also available.For example, an educational session about the use of the foam roller — "an alternative yet highly effective way to enhance flexibility, core strength and balance" — is $25.

A class to learn how to build physical movement into your daily life activities "and burn calories without exercising" is also $25.

A mat-pilates class to "build greater strength and flexibility" is $10, while healthy cooking with a wellness chef is $60-plus for 110 minutes.

You might want to get in line early for Saturday's open house.

When the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center opened in September 2007, a pre-opening tour attracted almost 12,000 people, according to Mayo estimates at that time.

For a class schedule, go to or, to make a reservation, call 293-2933.


Health reporter Jeff Hansel writes the Pulse on Health column every Monday. Follow him on Twitter @JeffHansel.

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