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To Your Health 

The Seventh Annual Gambit Weekly Wellness Expo™

Whether you're looking for a convenient spot to get loads of information about a range of health issues, beauty tips and treatments, ideas for increasing general well-being or you're just looking for a good pair of comfortable shoes, the seventh annual Gambit Weekly Wellness Expoª is the place to find solutions and answers to your questions from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie).

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include dozens of exhibitors who will dispense valuable information, give away free gifts and conduct some screenings, and a range of demonstrations at Center Stage inside the mall. The expo is supported by a host of health-related businesses (see the Exhibitors Directory for a listing of Expo participants and what they will offer at the event).

Franco's Athletic Club, which has locations in New Orleans' Lakeview area and in Mandeville on the Northshore, is a full-service fitness center that offers more than a dozen classes, including Pilates, cardio and toning workouts, total-body fitness classes, abdominal workouts, low-impact aerobics and more. It also has special boxing and fencing classes, personal trainers, all types of fitness workout equipment and refreshment facilities.

Ron and Sandy Franco opened the first Franco's in Mandeville in 1988 and followed with the Lakeview facility in 2000. With a credo of: Change lives, build relationships, love what you do, show you care, have fun, excel in everything, and do it all with passion, Franco's employees work toward the company's philosophy of helping its customers be healthy, both physically and mentally.

In addition to workouts, Franco's Lakeview facility offers relaxation services including massage and reflexology and has a physical therapy and hand specialty center on-site. A cafe and coffee house on the grounds offers Starbucks tea and coffee and meals such as duck salad and Jamaican jerk chicken wraps. There also is a sports bar with juices, smoothies and energy bars. The locker room includes a steam room and whirlpool for guests, and those who desire spa services receive a 10 percent discount on services and a 15 percent discount on products by showing their Franco's ID card at Bodyjoys day spa on St. Charles Avenue.

The Northshore Franco's has a Lifestyles Sports Apparel Shoppe, cafe and coffee lounge featuring Starbucks beverages, a full-service day spa on site, massage and tanning facilities, fencing classes, a color and hair styling salon and a smoothie and tonic bar.

Benchmark Research, another Expo exhibitor, conducts clinical trials to help determine the efficacy of medications that are being considered as a treatment for certain conditions and diseases. Volunteers from the local area who qualify are invited to join the trials, led by medical doctors and an expert staff of professionals, with some patients receiving the medication being studied and others receiving other forms of treatment. All volunteers are given regular medical check-ups for free, study-related medication and lab work at no cost, and some volunteers are reimbursed for expenses.

Founded in 1997, Benchmark has experience in trials dealing with allergy and asthma, analgesics and pain management, cardiology, the central nervous system, dermatology, pulmonary disease, reproductive system disorders, women's health, urology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, mental disorders, internal medicine, rheumatology and more. Its goal is to provide quality research to determine the best use of medications and therapies.

At the Wellness Expo, Benchmark professionals will treat visitors to massage and take their blood pressure. Prizes also will be awarded.

EarMasters specializes in making people hear better with easy-to-use digital hearing devices that are matched to the environment in which they live. To achieve those results, professionals come to a patient's home, observe the sounds that surround them on a daily basis and conduct on-site fiber-optic hearing tests. They then can match each patient with an appropriate digital hearing aid. Evaluating a person's hearing needs in the home or office where they work allows EarMasters technicians to better deduce their customers' needs.

EarMasters specializes in hearing losses due to nerve damage, conditions for which many patients are told there are no medical options available to improve their hearing. To help them, EarMasters uses cutting-edge technology and the Comfort-Ear hearing aid, which can help filter background noises that impede hearing. The device is voice activated and amplifies the sounds you want to hear while filtering out background 'clutter' noises.

Personalized patient care and attention to the needs of patients' families are the hallmarks of Fairway Medical Center surgical hospital, which recently was rated in the top 10 of U.S. ambulatory surgical centers by Today's SugiCenter magazine. A physician-owned institution that opened five years ago, Fairway has a Comprehensive Pain Medicine Center and also offers spine and joints care, bariatrics, women's health services, ear, nose and throat specialists, gastroenterology, gynecology services, ophthalmology, orthopedics, plastic surgery, podiatry and urology as well as general surgery.

A focus of the practice is to alleviate chronic or acute pain such as headaches, back and neck pain from many sources, facial pain, post-trauma soft-tissue injuries, pelvic and abdominal pains and more, as well as to develop personalized treatment plans for injuries and illnesses including cancer, arthritis, neuralgia and complications of diabetes. Look for freebies at its Expo booth as well as a video otoscopy screening to view inside your ears, hearing screening and ear wax removal kits.

Sometimes achieving success in a workout routine depends on how much you enjoy it. That's why Old Metairie Jazzercise Fitness Center combines aspects of aerobics, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing and resistance training and fun music into Jazzercise dance routines that double as hourlong workouts. Jazzercise was cited in the January 2005 Consumer Reports as the only exercise that benefits the cardiovascular system, upper and lower body and weight bearing systems as well as working on resistance.

To introduce youngsters to fitness through fun, the studio offers Junior Jazzercise for ages 5 to 10 and even offers summer camps for kids (July 25-29 and Aug. 1-5); and for those intimidated by the thought of the dance routine, the studio offers an invigorating Lite Class.

Old Metairie Jazzercise Fitness Center tries to accommodate customers' schedules and needs by requiring no long-term contracts or start-up fees, offering unlimited-class passes and scheduling more than 45 classes a week.

Visit the St. Charles Vision booth at the Expo and get a free eye screening from professionals who are known for their expertise in the field.

Opened in 1975, St. Charles Vision prides itself on having the most thorough eye examinations in the industry, utilizing computerized auto refraction, which gives the doctor a photo of your eye to help determine the proper prescription. The exam also includes testing for cataracts and glaucoma, and signs of diabetes and vascular problems. For convenience, the doctor will even give you drops to reverse the dilation so you can return to work or other activities right away. The practice also can treat eye diseases and has doctors available to help with ocular emergencies around the clock.

In addition to vision exams, St. Charles Vision offers contact lens exams, fittings and products, including MacroLens and Intra-Limbal contact lenses to correct irregular corneas or failed laser surgeries. It specializes in hard-to-fit patients. The stores also offer a range of glasses and sunglasses, including designer lines such as Prada, Dolce and Gabana, Oliver Peoples, Kawasaki, Lafont, MODO and others.

Physicians and hospitals in the New Orleans area established Tenet Choices in 1994 to provide comprehensive health-care services to Medicare recipients, and its managed care plan was approved by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services a couple of years ago. Now the program provides health insurance coverage to almost 40,000 people in the area and is owned by Tenet HealthSystem, one of the country's largest healthcare companies.

Patients who have Tenet Choices receive care through the Independent Physician Association, a network of doctors in a range of specialties who are organized to provide quality health care for these members. Tenet Choices 65 provides comprehensive health care services to Medicare-eligible members, including prescription drug coverage. Tenet Choices plans are the first of their kind to offer Medicaid beneficiaries coverage similar to what most Americans receive through Preferred Provider Organizations.

The Wellness Expo also represents lifestyle issues, including healthy relationships through Together Introductions. The membership-only organization, which started in 1974, pledges to make the experience of meeting other singles in the group safe, sensible and fun. To that end, it is selective in its members and conducts criminal, emotional and financial screening of members. Matches are made according to personality traits, compatibility and what they desire in a companion. If the match works out well, you might want to call on Welliver Productions, who produce videos of weddings.

Hundreds of health-care products for the home and family can be found in the 4,000-square-foot showroom at Total Health Solutions, including home medical equipment and supplies, orthopedic and shoe supports, canes, walkers, wheelchairs and power scooters, lift-chairs, bath benches and shower chairs, maternity and child safety products. It also has asthma and allergy supplies, nutritional products, ostomy incontinence supplies, things you'll need to set up a patient room at home, HEPA air cleaners, allergy-free sheets and pillows, humidifiers, wound-care products and self-diagnostic testing kits to detect recreational drugs, cholesterol levels, HIV, hepatitis C and even colon cancer.

In a more private part of the store is the Caring for Women Boutique, which offers women going through certain treatments beauty and health aids such as mastectomy bras and breast forms, lymph edema stockings, wigs, turbans, hats, unique skin products for chemo and radiation therapy patients, and more.

Options for staying fit include taekwondo under the tutelage of Art Monroe's Taekwondo Plus, which is opening a new school at 605 Metairie Road (831-1110) in addition to its West Bank studio. That school teaches martial arts training, cardiovascular workouts, safety awareness classes and taekwondo skills training. Adults, juniors and children can also choose martial arts and fitness training at Korean Martial Arts Center, which will give visitors to its booth tips about what to look for in a martial arts school. Ultimate Fitness takes a different tack, offering personal training sessions of high-intensity interval workouts and whole-body circuit training that only needs to be performed for a half-hour once a week. It has both rehabilitative exercise equipment and aerobic equipment.

Body Art, a fitness center that also offers tanning, day spa services, hair treatments and a karate studio, will conduct free body-fat testing and posture analysis at its booth. It's difficult to undertake and maintain an exercise regimen if you're tired all the time, so the folks at Southern Sleep Diagnostics LLC conduct sleep studies to help find out why you don't get the rest you need when you slumber; it's booth will provide self-testing cards to get you started.

Women's health is addressed in detail by Crescent City Ob-Gyn Associates/Women's Center for Clinical Research, a comprehensive women's health facility that specializes in advanced laparoscopic techniques and clinical trials dealing with women's health issues. Breast self-exam cards are among the giveaways at its booth.

You can track down almost anything you need to know in the field of health by consulting the National Library of Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. You can use the free pens and notepads available at the booth to jot down notes about how to access Web sites within the library system and toll-free numbers of health-related organizations.

Majoria Drugs, a full-service pharmacy, will be on hand with coupons, free samples and gift certificates. And the Partnership for Prescription Assistance of Louisiana will help people who don't have prescription medication insurance coverage find ways to get the medicines they need.

Get supplies for clean teeth and fresh breath from the Dr. Tichenor Antiseptic Company booth, which will give away free samples of toothpaste and antiseptic mouthwash.

Find out how you or someone you know can become part of a clinical research trial that could help bring effective medications and treatments to the marketplace with a visit to New Orleans Medical Institute, which works with drug studies in areas from allergies to urology.

If you need help to quit smoking, Laser Concepts of New Orleans offers a cold, non-invasive laser technique to help. Clear Mirror Healing uses hypnotherapy to help people overcome weight problems as well as to go through childbirth and dental procedures pain free. To build up your body, Pharmanex offers 'nutraceutical' nutritional supplements, a special juice and special antioxidant laser scanner, which visitors to the booth can learn about.

Those 50 and older should stop by Crescent City Physical Therapy's booth to determine whether they are at risk for falling injuries. The business also offers acute physical therapy, rehabilitation and more. Westside Orthopaedic Clinic offers physical therapy and diagnostic testing; at the Expo it will demonstrate Extracordureal Shock Wave Therapy for tendonitis and will screen visitors for osteoporosis.

HealthWest Rehabilitation Hospital is a comprehensive short-term medical rehabilitation hospital that offers in-patient and outpatient therapies for a range of problems. You can learn about proper exercise and nutrition from Discover Chiropractic, which provides scoliosis and nerve system analysis and stress-reduction massage therapy.

Beauty also is a part of well-being and one not forgotten by organizers of the Wellness Expo. In addition to cancer treatments, Meng Oncology LLC and Healthy Pure Innovations LLC offer cosmetic procedures that conquer everything from wrinkles and creases to removal of scars, spider veins and age spots. To take care of your dental needs, look to Lacoste Gentle Dental, which has an office at Lakeside.

Le Papillon Medispa can help you look better with laser hair removal, Botox, permanent makeup, photo facials and spa services. Its professionals will give you a free skin-care and laser hair removal consultation if you stop by the booth. If you don't want to worry about putting on makeup every day, The Finishing Touch Permanent Cosmetics can apply permanent eyeliner and lip color and restore your eyebrows among other things.

Free hair-care product samples, discount cards and demonstrations are available from JC Penney Styling Salon, which offers a full menu of hair- and nail-care services. Dillard's perfect fit experts can make sure you get a bra that is comfortable and smooth-looking, plus visitors to the Expo booth will receive a 10 percent discount card. It's hard to look happy and stress free when your feet hurt, so check out the solutions at Easy Spirit, whose specialty is comfortable footwear. To add sparkle to your beauty, Zales sells all kinds of beautiful jewelry, and its full-service store is conveniently located in the mall.

There are all kinds of products that make you (and your home) smell great, your skin feel smooth and your face and hair feel lovely at Bath & Body Works, which will display aromatherapy and spa products at its booth. Crabtree & Evelyn will conduct hand-conditioning demonstrations at its booth and entice shoppers with its range of luxury bath products and gifts.

You'll certainly want to share everything you've learned at the Expo with family and friends, and T-Mobile can activate a new wireless communication service for you right at its booth. Verizon Wireless will give away discount coupons at its booth, good toward the wireless, voice and data products it offers.

Wellness is not just for humans. Causeway Animal Hospital will be on hand to give you information about your pets and to hand out samples of dog and cat foods.

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