FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 7, 2016) -- A new year often brings with it resolutions of living a healthier lifestyle. There is now an organization on the installation that can help provide the resources to make those resolutions a reality.

The Fort Leonard Wood Army Wellness Center is now available to community members, providing them with easy access to metabolic assessments, body composition testing, physical fitness assessments, health coaching, biofeedback (stress reduction), general wellness classes, unit briefings and unit assessments.

"These services would cost someone $3,000 at an off-post establishment and are absolutely free to eligible clients," said Maleena Littlejohn, health promotion technician.

The Army Wellness Center, which officially opened in December, provides clients with prevention programs to help people improve overall wellbeing. The facility is staffed with educators that have degrees in health/wellness or behavioral health, as well as certifications in different aspects of fitness.

"One of our main goals is to prevent - prevent disease and prevent health issues. We want to assist our clients in behavior change which will lead to those healthy lifestyle changes that need to be made," Littlejohn said.

Behavior change is key to improving overall health and wellness, said Molly Lautzenheiser, wellness center director.

"You can be told what to do, but are you willing to do that," Lautzenheiser asked. "That is what [we] will do, figure out where you are in terms of making a change and then figure out how to get you to the action and maintenance phase of behavior change."

A client's first visit consists of body composition testing (Bod Pod) as well as metabolic testing.

"Our Bod Pod uses air displacement to determine lean mass and fat mass and is one of the most accurate readings of body fat on the market today," Littlejohn said.

Metabolic testing is an oxygen measurement to determine an individual's caloric needs.

"After the first appointment, we will schedule the client for other visits for fit testing, biofeedback, health coaching, wellness classes, and Bod Pod follow-ups," she added.

Biofeedback training (stress management) consists of four sessions that involve learning, practicing and mastering a variety of energy management techniques in combination with biofeedback and emWave technology, which uses a finger or ear sensor that allows the emWave to measure heart rate variability.

"Heart rate variability [HRV] is a measure of the beat-to-beat changes in heart rate. Heart rate variability analysis suggests that the heart is a sensitive marker for emotional changes, as reflected in heart rhythm patterns. We teach our clients to control their HRV through their thoughts," Littlejohn said.

Biofeedback training appointments may be scheduled weekly or every two weeks depending on client need.

Fit testing lasts about 60 minutes, and allows Army wellness centers to test a client's cardiorespiratory fitness and provide heart rate trainings zones for fat burning, endurance running, and high intensity training.

"A client who is aware of where their heart rate should be while training for their goals will have maximum results," Littlejohn said. "We also go over a client's flexibility capabilities, back strength, and grip strength."

Health coaching sessions last about an hour and are worked around the client's goals and needs. The focus of each session is on nutrition, explanation of testing results and how to use those results along with exercise suggestions.

Some of the wellness classes include: stress management, healthy sleeping habits, upping your metabolism, meals in minutes and body mechanics.

"[This program is] going to change the overall health and wellness initiatives on post," Lautzenheiser said. "It will help give everyone a push towards health and fitness as a priority and make the installation a healthier place to be."

Army wellness center services are available to active-duty military members, retirees, Family members and Department of Defense civilians who are Tricare beneficiaries.

"We have so much to offer," Littlejohn said. "We are here to get our clients on the right path to reach their healthy lifestyle goals."

The Fort Leonard Wood Army Wellness Center is located at 199 E. Fourth St., Building 2081, and is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 573-329-1900.