The University of British Columbia’s future sports and exercise medicine centre will include a state-of-the-art gym, thanks to a $1-million donation from the Jack and Darlene Poole Foundation.
When it opens in the fall of 2017, the rehabilitation and research gym will be used to assess optimal training techniques, injury recovery strategies and the effects of exercise on people with cancer and other chronic diseases.
Jack Poole was a founder of two major real estate and development firms, Daon Development Corp. and Concert Properties, and co-led Vancouver’s successful bid to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as Chair of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC). In that role, he worked closely with Jack Taunton, founder and longtime director of UBC’s sports medicine centre, who was chief medical officer of the 2010 Games.
Jack Poole died of pancreatic cancer on Oct. 23, 2009, a day after the Olympic torch was lit in Greece for its journey to Vancouver. His wife, Darlene, continues to play an active role in the community, aided by the Poole Foundation’s philanthropic support for several health and charity organizations in British Columbia.
“Jack worked hard to stay as fit as possible through his challenges with prostate cancer and then during his long and arduous struggle with pancreatic cancer,” said Darlene Poole. “He was always eager to know how best to achieve maximum health and well-being, even as cancer compromised his body. If there had been a gym like this, he would have been there, looking for answers, fighting for better health. I hope this facility will show that people with cancer, and with other challenges, can gain strength and find the best ways to carry on.”
The 1,075-square-foot gym will allow more study of exercise’s effects on chronic disease. Until now, most of UBC’s research in that area – conducted in smaller, rented space near the BC Cancer Agency – has focused on breast cancer, resulting in more than two dozen peer-reviewed publications, consistently showing that exercise helps manage the fatigue, discomfort, depression and anxiety resulting from the disease and treatment.
“Sport and exercise medicine is about more than torn ACL’s and rotator cuffs,” said Don McKenzie, a professor of sports medicine and director of UBC’s Allan McGavin Sport and Exercise Medicine Centre. “It’s also about managing cancer, asthma, diabetes, arthritis and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease. This gift from Jack and Darlene will help advance our understanding of exercise as therapy. It’s a field that is just emerging, and we have so much to learn, and to share, with the community – which is what Jack was dedicated to doing all of his life.”
In addition to standard exercise equipment, the Jack and Darlene Poole Rehabilitation and Research Gym will have an anti-gravity treadmill that enables people to run in place with far less impact. The gym will operate in tandem with a lab upstairs where participants’ body mass index, bone density and metabolic function can be precisely measured before and after exercise.
The sports and exercise medicine centre formerly occupied a building surrounded by UBC’s athletic fields until that was torn down last year to make way for construction of the National Soccer Development Centre. The centre’s future home, the Chan Gunn Pavilion, is being named for the Vancouver physician and pain management specialist who donated $5 million for the building’s construction. Groundbreaking is expected in July.
Until its new quarters are available, most of the centre’s staff is operating out of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.