White Sands Missile Range’s Wellness Program, which officially kicked-off April 20, is in full swing with well over 60 participants signed up and participating in not only physical activities but health and wellness courses as well.
“The responses we’re getting is that people like this because someone is keeping them accountable and looking out for them,” said Dawn Patterson, WSMR Bell Gym Fitness Program Specialist. “There’s a lot of weight people lifted from their shoulders when someone is just calmly checking on them.”
The six month program has just reached its second month. The goal of the program is to provide participants with the tools to lead an all-around healthier lifestyle even after the program is over. The program is assisted by a NMSU Exercise Science intern who monitors the participant’s progress throughout the program. Participants are required to take two resiliency classes a month to help reduce stress in their lives. The classes range from spiritual courses, arts and crafts courses, and wellness program courses.
“Going to the classes has made me well-rounded. It’s expanded my thought process,” said Kate Nichols, a military spouse who is participating in the program.
The courses that are offered range from several different subjects to fulfill the interest of the participants. Nichols said she would never have thought to attend any of the courses had she not been in the program. She said she still thinks about information she learned about, in earlier classes she has taken, whenever she eats her meals.
“You’re retaining the information like nutrition,” Patterson said.
Nichols said the program has allowed her to reject an online weight loss offer because she was receiving the resources she needed for free and face to face.
There’s a wide variety to pick from and there are ideal times,” Nichols said.
What Nichols likes most about the program is that they receive what they call ‘workout prescriptions’ that are tailored specifically to their health needs and physical ability. Each participant was required to get a physical exam from their doctor before beginning the program. If a prescription is too light or too much for an individual, they can communicate directly with the interns for a new prescription.
“I’ve gotten personal fitness programs built for me and I can try it out first and see if it works for me,” Nichols said. “I (once) asked for a new one on a Tuesday and received it on Wednesday. It’s just nice that I’ll be on vacation for 18 days and I can follow a prescription.”
An unexpected outcome that Nichols said has come from the program is the opportunity for spouses and the workforce to build a relationship. Patterson said she has also built a bond with participants.
“I feel like I’m a little bit more immersed into the community,” Patterson said.
The program now offers a free trial of any exercise classes offered at Bell Gym to any Wellness Program participants. From the trial, participants can determine how they liked the class and begin to pay for the classes upon their return. “To remove yourself from the (work) environment and put yourself in a different environment is a great opportunity,” Patterson said.
Quantitative and qualitative data has been collected and will continue to be collected throughout the program to see where the program stands at the three month review. Patterson said they also begin to send surveys out in July to supervisors to see if the participant’s mood or activity level has changed since starting the program.
Matt Barrett, WSMR computer engineer and program participant said the program has given him a runner’s high and has lifted his mood. Barrett said he joined because he said he has gotten in terrible shape in the past 15 years.
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the program and learn from them,” Barrett said. “Keep in mind I just started but I’m consistent over there.”
Like Nichols, Barrett said he enjoyed classes that he never thought he would enjoy like the yoga Bend and Balance course that is offered and the spinning class. Barrett said the program has provided him the strength training that he had been missing in his exercise routine.
“They’re being proactive in their health and wellness on their own,” Patterson said.
Patterson said she is trying to explore all of the different options available that will cover mind, body and spirit.
“Our program has a tremendous amount of flexibility,” Patterson said.
The second program will begin in October.