By David VergunSeptember 18, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (Army News Service, Sept. 18, 2013) -- The first wellness center here will open next month at Jensen Family Health and Fitness Center.
"We're blessed being in the same building with a full-scale gym because Soldiers and family members will not only have access to wellness programs, they'll also have access to the facility equipment and personal trainers," said Teresa Bruder, a registered nurse and the center's director.
Bruder spoke during the first week of the first Performance Triad pilot course, which started here Sept. 9. She and her staff of health professionals were guest speakers, informing the Soldiers about the benefits they offer in terms of the triad's goals of improving sleep, nutrition and activity to maximize performance and health.
Eleven squad leaders of 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, are attending the first two weeks training of the pilot and then will impart their knowledge and mentoring skills on their Soldiers over a 24-week period.
Two other pilots are planned next month at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Bragg, N.C. An Army-wide roll-out of Performance Triad could begin as early as 2015.
Although the wellness center is opening in October, the equipment is already in place and the only thing that needs to be done, according to Bruder, is for the equipment manufacturer to certify that everything is in working order.
But word has already leaked out on the installation that the wellness center is opening, and according to Bruder, more than 400 Soldiers and family members have already signed up for their services, and more are doing so daily.
Bruder estimates that a full-service wellness visit would cost $3,000 in the civilian sector. But it's free for Soldiers, family members and retirees. She thinks their program will be a huge draw.
The first step to improved health and performance for everyone, Bruder said, is getting an accurate baseline fitness level measurement. She said that is something the center can do. Once the baseline measures are taken, Soldiers can return maybe six months or a year later to see if there have been any improvements.
The "Human Performance Room" might be the first place to visit; there are several such rooms at the center.
Inside the Human Performance Room are several machines used to measure VO2, or oxygen uptake. That's an indicator of aerobic capacity, Bruder said. A Soldier puts on a mask and either uses a treadmill or a stationary bike, depending on whether or not they have an injury. The VO2 tests are submaximal, meaning 80 percent of aerobic capacity.
Then, the Soldier's flexibility is measured using a scale in a seated position. That's followed by a back strength dynamometer, which measures strength. The Soldier lifts a handle in a move similar to a deadlift. It can measure more than 600 pounds of lift so the majority of people would not be able to max that.
Weight, body mass index, height and grip strength are also checked.
Then it's time to move to the "Bod Pod Room." The Bod Pod, which resembles a space capsule, measures body composition, meaning the ratio of body fat to lean muscle. More lean muscle is better. Bruder said its accuracy is more than 99 percent.
The Bod Pod is considered even more accurate than the tape measure used by the Army, but since the machines are not yet located at every installation, the traditional measures are still the standard and they have enough accuracy to satisfy requirements, she said.
Next stop is the "Resting Metabolic Rate Room." Here, the amount of calories burned while at rest is measured. The machine measures how much air is exhaled over a set time. A higher metabolism would be desirable for someone who wants to burn more calories in order to lose weight.
Those who have a low metabolic rate are encouraged to take a class that the wellness center offers. One of the most effective ways to lower it, she said, is to increase muscle mass. Personal trainers at the gym are happy to do one-on-one customized weightlifting programs with those who want more muscle.
Lastly, there's the "Biofeedback Room." Here is where Soldiers learn to reduce their stress and lower their blood pressure, she said. A Soldier sits in a massage chair and inserts their feet and arms into sleeves. When the machine is turned on, the whole body gets massaged. A video screen shows a relaxing nature scene while electromagnetic, or EM, waves are displayed below, indicating, among other things, heart rate.
The Soldier in the chair can smooth out choppy EM waves by relaxing, she said. They look at the scene and the EM waves and consciously and subconsciously are able to slow their heart rate and have relaxed breathing. She admitted it's hard to get people out of the chair and it's one of the most popular devices there.
As well as all the equipment and health care providers on staff, a variety of classes will be offered once the center opens.