The Army Wellness Center here offers an assortment of services to help community members achieve New Year fitness goals, and two new health educators on the team are anxious to share their knowledge about positive behaviors that promote better wellness.
Junior Harris III and Danielle Spragley are the latest additions to the staff. Both are certified HEs, requiring at least a bachelor’s degree in a health promotion-related field along with a National Commission for Certifying Agencies’ validation such as certified personal trainer, exercise physiologist or certified health education specialist.
“Health educators go through extensive health coach training and become proficient in maximizing a client’s progress based on his/her current stage of change,” said Randi Park, AWC director. “They specialize in evaluating a client’s current activities to analyze personal risk and recognize the relevance of healthy lifestyle adjustments.”
To supplement their coaching efforts, HEs can use any of the AWC’s resources such as the Bod Pod, metabolic testing, fitness assessments, biofeedback and a range of classes and informational materials.
Appointments are never judgmental, Park assured. Those seeking AWC assistance will receive encouragement and support in the development of a specific plan and solutions regarding identified barriers. During each coaching session, the client will experience the following verified health coaching techniques:
- Active listening
- Open-ended inquiry
- Motivational interviewing
- SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) goal-setting objectives.
- Identification of strengths/motivators in the areas of sleep, physical activity/fitness, nutrition, stress and/or tobacco education
“For new fitness plans, we recommend health coaching appointments every two weeks to maintain and track progress and goals,” Park advised. “Health Educators keep clients accountable by encouraging regular appointments and check-ins at the AWC to make necessary adjustments regarding goals.”
Park cited a more specific example. “Let’s say a client sets a goal to exercise five times a week at Clark gym for 60 minutes after work,” she said, “but at their second week follow-up appointment, it’s reported they only went to the gym three times total. The HE would assess what aspect of that goal was not attainable and assist in making adjustments. It could be the time of the day wasn’t conducive to his/her schedule. Or realistically, it needs to be only three times a week because of their busy schedule. The key here is coaching, not micromanaging.”
Follow-up appointments also provide an opportunity to answer questions and share additional resources and health tracking tips (media resources, brochures, handouts, exercise programs, etc.).
“Essentially, our HEs assist in establishing a wellness vision along with developing behavioral goals to achieve the desired outcome,” Park said.
AWC offers services to all active duty service members, DOD Civilians, family members and military retirees. For more information or to make an appointment, call 804-734-9384 or 734-9925.