Williston rehab facility opens second branch in Colchester

By W. N. Crow
Observer correspondent

Area residents who find themselves in need of physical rehabilitation found cause to celebrate recently with the grand opening of a new branch of The RehabGYM.

As business begins in earnest at the new facility, located at 905 Roosevelt Highway in Colchester, the owner and operator of the gym has high hopes for the unique brand of rehabilitation.

“(I) have always actually been a little unhappy with how physical therapy is applied to the population,” owner Sharon Gutwin, a Williston resident, said at the facility’s grand opening last week. “I always felt that people wanted more, needed more for getting better.”

Gutwin, who graduated from University of Vermont in 1979 with a degree in physical therapy, declared the philosophy of The RehabGYM to be “a combination of gym facility with P.T. (physical therapy) knowledge.”

The original RehabGYM opened at Maple Tree Place in Williston in 2003. The Colchester facility opened in October.

Both facilities are staffed by employees who are also accredited medical professionals with a breadth of knowledge extending beyond simple fitness training, Gutwin said.

Designed by Gutwin in conjunction with disabled clients and their families, along with help from The Medical Store of South Burlington, the new branch looks to cater to all degrees of physical need, with special attention focused on state-of-the art pool facilities.

Used for both swimming and recreational rehabilitation, the pools have been fitted with a hydraulic lift system that makes getting in and out of the pool and into the changing room and back a fluid and easy process.

Despite all this, however, those without physical boundaries are encouraged to make the most of the gym as well. Gutwin hopes that those in the community will use the facility for what she terms “proactive care.” Ultimately creating personalized physical goals with medical supervision, she hopes, will keep clients injury-free during their physical regimen.

“It’s cheaper,” she said, smiling, “And it’s a lot more fun.”

Gutwin’s goals for the gyms extend far beyond those of simple exercise and rehabilitation.

“I’m hoping to instill this lifelong fitness attitude within an individual … when they’re young,” and then continue working with clients through high school and into middle age, Gutwin said.

Nowhere is this all-ages mentality more apparent than right next door, with the also newly-opened Kids’ RehabGYM. Though serving much of the same function as the adult facility, needs are met on a more specialized scale; the youngest patient was only a few months old when starting the program.

Designed with the goals of physical therapy and physical play in mind, the youth-centric facility caters to the whole family in terms of having the young patients receive physical instruction in their own, personal space.

The machines inside the smaller center – a curiously whimsical hybrid of gym and playground – seem designed in a way that the groups of kids playing on them made no secret of enjoying what could otherwise be seen as a workout in its own right.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Carol Wheeler, who receives treatment for her tendonitis, also utilizes the facility to keep up her physical activity when not there on business.

Wheeler described the gym as “wonderful” and praised its convenience, being close to her home.

At the end of the day, Gutwin is just glad to be able to administer the help that she can, and looks forward to making her goals more widespread in the future.

“It isn’t just about us. It’s about what we can do with what we’ve been given, and [others] being able to give back,” Gutwin said. “I feel like I’ve been blessed with the ability and the support of others to get here … My anticipation is that this could be something more, but in the time being, for those that come to The RehabGYM, I feel very good knowing how they feel when they’re here, and I think I’m on the right track.”