ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — When Ann Lawson strolls into her neighborhood grocery store, she really gets a workout.
That's because her Hannaford supermarket has a small gym located just past the pharmacy counter. It has treadmills, stationary bicycles, various other cardio machines, even a state-of-the-art Zumba room with a shiny wooden floor.
And best of all — it's free.
"It's about me getting healthy and losing some of this excess weight," Lawson said. "And I like the idea of being able to work out and shop in one trip."
Maine-based Hannaford insists the 5,600-square-foot health facility that opened in October is not part of some shrewd marketing campaign. The Albany store is the only one in the 184-store chain with such a gym, and there are no plans for more.
The idea grew out of a meeting last summer between Hannaford, the local YMCA and the health care provider Capital District Physicians' Health Plan. All said their goal was to come up with something to improve the area's health while also being convenient, accessible and free.
The store had the extra space after a recent remodeling, and the Healthy Living Center was born with a goal to target obesity and diabetes.
"It's been a natural partnership," said Nancy Gildersleeve, director of healthy living for the Capital District YMCA. "This was perfect for our community. We have got to partner to prevent these chronic diseases."
The center has a personal trainer provided by the YMCA, a health care associate from CDPHP to answer questions and enroll new customers, and a Hannaford-registered dietitian to offer advice on healthy eating.
"This is really a first step for people that have never felt that connection and support," said Gildersleeve, who notes that the YMCA has no other such partnership in the country. "This has become a community center. People meet folks just like them."