Trinity Hospital Twin City Fit for Life Program Flourishes (Part 1)

Trinity Hospital Twin City in Dennison, Ohio, has found great success with its Fit for Life program. Testimonials abound as to the success participants have had with Fit for Life, and enrollment in the program continues to grow.

“I feel blessed to work for a hospital that has supported me now for 22 years,” Dr. Timothy McKnight, founder and director of Fit for Life, said. “I have been passionately teaching people how to heal since 2006.”

Now that Fit for Life is available both virtually and in-person, Dr. McKnight believes it has international potential.

“I am surprised, at times, that the program continues to increase in numbers,” he said. “I think moving the class to Dover, Ohio, and going virtual has really expanded the view that our program coordinator, Kelly Bowe, and I have of reaching a huge audience.”

The team that brings Fit for Life to the community (from L to R): Debbie Angel, Dr. Timothy McKnight, and Kelly Bowe.

What is Fit for Life?

  • Fit for Life is a 12-week, individualized program, conducted twice a year, that emphasizes realistic lifestyle changes resulting in enhanced levels of health and fitness.
  • The goal of the Trinity Health System Twin City Medical Center Fit for Life program is to provide an innovative, multi-agency means to reduce the number of overweight and obese men and women of all ages in Tuscarawas County and the surrounding counties of Carroll, Guernsey, and Harrison.
  • Participants meet once weekly for about 60 minutes, either in-person or virtually, and use customized fitness and diet plans developed by the Trinity Hospital Twin City Fit for Life.
  • The fall class, which began back in September, is the largest one yet, with 73 participants, 50 of whom are in-person and 23 of whom are virtual.
  • Participants have joined the class virtually from Austin, Texas; Chicago, Ill.; Atlanta, Ga.; Utah; North Carolina; and West Virginia.
  • The Fit for Life program was recently featured by the Rural Health Information Hub because of the many lives it has transformed.

How is Fit for Life different?

  • Fit for Life is physician-led, Dr. McKnight said, which distinguishes it from other wellness and weight-loss programs.

“As a practicing primary-care provider and hospitalist, my day-to-day interactions with health and disease bring relevant and timely, crucial information about the latest disease states and healing opportunities,” he explained. “People love the fact that this program is physician-led and physician-inspired.”

Dr. Timothy McKnight teaches his class “Fit for Life.”

  • Fit for Life is comprehensive, while still allowing the individual to make personal decisions regarding their own lifestyle changes.

“They do this by the inspiration that comes to them after the information has been presented and key questions are posed,” Dr. McKnight said. “Based on current strategies in evidence-based medicine, it empowers people with information, so that they do not feel victim of a healthcare system that they often perceive wants to push prescription medication and rarely addresses the root cause of disease.”

  • Topics cover the most common primary-care conditions seen in the office, which allows Dr. McKnight to assist patients in understanding why they have the condition and how the body will try to heal it. The key to this approach is learning to live in harmony with nature’s lessons of healing.

“This program reflects my passion for nutrition, exercise, and treating the entire person,” Dr. McKnight said. “This means treating their physical body, as well as their spiritual, mental, and emotional make-up. I really believe it addresses the entire person. I try my best to be a role model for class members. At 62 I am doing things physically that I never thought were possible. However, by applying the principles of this program, they are universal and they work.”

How are classes conducted?

  • A private Facebook page is set up specifically for the current class.
  • Three to four lessons are posted to that page; each of these lessons is approximately 25 to 30 minutes long.
  • The class members read the “Chapter of the Week” and watch the lessons as their schedule allows.
  • Their total weekly time commitment with watching the videos, reading their chapter, and attending the weekly meeting is approximately 3 to 3.5 hours per week.

“This makes it so nice for young parents and class members who work full time,” Kelly Bowe, Project Coordinator, said. “They can watch during the time of day where they’re able to quiet down, relax, and concentrate on the lessons.”

  • The Fit for Life Facebook page also offers support, encouragement, recipes, exercises, and demonstration videos from Dr. McKnight, Bowe, and other members of the class.
  • By using this Facebook page regularly, the class members are able to get to know each other better.
  • The participants then meet every Tuesday evening at 5:30 for approximately one hour.

“Dr. McKnight and I meet with the in-person participants at the Dover Library in Dover, Ohio,” Bowe said. “I weigh everyone weekly and counsel them through their journey.”

  • McKnight facilitates a weekly PowerPoint presentation to quickly review the chapter and take any questions the class members may have. Dr. McKnight also invites guest speakers to talk with the class.

“Dr. McKnight shares so much more additional information to help them with their journey,” Bowe said. “He shares all of the new information he learns through his research and medical conferences, and he offers each class the most up-to-date information as he learns it.”

An attentive class listens to Dr. Timothy McKnight.

  • The virtual participants also tune into the Facebook page at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and are able to see everything the in-person class sees.

“They can ask questions and interact as well. I call them each week to record their weight, counsel them, and answer any questions they have,” Bowe said, adding, “I feel that our fall session is the very best version of Fit for Life to date.”


Tomorrow: How Fit for Life survived the pandemic. If you would like to register for the January 2023 sessions, please click here.