The installation is kicking off a new wellness program to help White Sands Missile Range employees obtain work life balance and help change their perspective on health and wellness.
The new program allows employees three hours a week during duty hours to work on their health and wellness. The program is six months long and participants can reapply for the program if positive results are seen.
“We know that a healthy workforce is a progressive workforce and why not provide the installation with a program to try to get them to lead a healthier lifestyle,” said WSMR Garrison Command Sergeant Major Sgt. Maj. Jesus DeGracia. “It’s not just good for the workforce but for families of participants as well. What better gift to give your family.”
Open enrollment started on April 6 and will continue through April 20. The first pilot program will be from April 20 through Oct. 20.
“To know that your job is giving you three hours to invest in your health and wellness for a more successful and healthier lifestyle is pretty great. It doesn’t just stop at six months. It becomes a habit and a lifestyle,” said Dawn Patterson, WSMR Bell Gym Fitness Program Specialist.
Under DeGracia’s direction, Patterson, Maj. Kelley Watts, chief nurse officer in charge for McAfee, and Ed Stahl, PAIO Management and Program Analyst, worked together to create a viable wellness program from scratch.
“It was definitely a team effort. All of us were active participants for the core nucleus of this program,” Patterson said.
Employees who are interested in participating must first fill out an application packet and meet with NMSU Intern Arielle Johnson. Johnson will help guide all of the participants during the six month program with detailed exercise programs and guides on nutrition. Johnson will evaluate each participant at the beginning of the program, midway through the program and at the end of the program to see how well the participants are doing based on the goals they have set for themselves and their current state of health.
“I have complete confidence in her. If I could pick any student she would be in the top,” Patterson said.
Johnson, who will graduate with a degree in Exercise Science in May, said she’s excited to work with WSMR employees in such a capacity and feels her role in the program would be a great morale booster for the participants.
“It’s just having that motivation. If you don’t’ have anyone pushing you you’re not going to take advantage,” Johnson said.
“It’s less likely that they will relapse to their previous state of health,” Patterson added.
Bell Gym equipment is free to use for the entire WSMR community. The gym is separated into four different rooms, the basketball courts, free weights, nautilus, and cardio equipment.
“This program is meant for employees to invest in their health and wellness for longevity. For them to take the skills and resources and reapply them at any time,” Patterson said.
There are some fees associated with classes that are offered at the gym. Participants can purchase a punch card good for 30 classes for $40. The gym also offers a personal trainer. The fee for a trainer ranges from $60 to $360. Three sessions with a fitness trainer is $60 and 12 sessions with a trainer is $360. Patterson said most individuals would only like a basic tutorial on how to use most gym equipment, in those cases the $60 plan would be the best fit.
“This is not a one on one program with a fitness instructor. It can sometimes be a little daunting to come in here,” Patterson said. “Sometimes you need a basic tutorial.”
The WSMR Aquatics Center is also a venue where participants can exercise throughout the six month program. Participants can also purchase a 30 use punch card for $40 or pay $2 per open and lap swimming visit. Department of Defense Service members can use the facility for free.
Part of the application packet involves a brief physical exam which asks participants to perform exercises like steps, and sit ups. Participants are asked to do this at the beginning, midway through, and at the end of the program to see how their physical endurance has improved throughout the process.
“When you can actually see improvements, you feel that success, you feel that revolution,” Patterson said.
Participants will also need to fill out a goal sheet where food recommendations and guidelines can be made based on the goals they have set for themselves.
“Who doesn’t want to have someone monitor them? We want to see you do well that is our way of showing we have an investment in you,” Patterson said.
Participants will also be asked to fill out a survey to determine how they feel on a day to day basis. The survey will be given again midway through the program and at the end of the program to look for improvements in wellness.
Participants will also be required to take two resiliency classes a month to help reduce stress in their lives. According to Patterson, stress reduction plays a major role in your overall health and wellness. The classes range from spiritual courses, arts and crafts courses, and wellness program courses. A calendar of events that qualify for the Wellness Program will be disbursed to participants on each month.
Patterson said once the calendars are disseminated for the month they are set in stone, other than emergency situations, because she knows how diverse work schedules are on the range. The times for the courses vary from early morning and late afternoon. WSMR technician Ernie Ferrales said his work schedule would be the only thing that would hold him back from joining a program like this, but he would be more inclined to join with courses that fit his schedule.
“It sounds like a good program. I usually come in when I can, but I’ll definitely look into it,” Ferrales said.
If participants do not attend courses within a two month period, participants will be evaluated and receive communication about the requirements of the program.
“In a month there are 15 classes being offered, you can make it to at least two,” Patterson said.
Employees who wish to participate can print out the packet at wsmrmwy.com/bellgym and call 678-3374 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.