Wellness Center ready to use new technology

By Leejay Lockhart, Fort Campbell CourierJanuary 14, 2017

1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jheri Weidensall, director of Fort Campbell's Army Wellness Center, demonstrates the equipment that performs the resting metabolic rate assessment Tuesday. The equipment is so sensitive that either consuming caffeine or nicotine in the hours before t... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jheri Weidensall, director of Fort Campbell's Army Wellness Center, demonstrates the bod pod, which uses air displacement to determine body composition. Fort Campbell's Army Wellness Center has state of the art equipment to help Soldiers, Families an... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Fort Campbell's Army Wellness Center will soon begin to use sophisticated technology augmented by education and coaching to foster healthy lifestyles and improve the post's wellness.

The Army Wellness Center, at 5662 Screaming Eagle Blvd., is in the final stages of preparing for its soft opening in February. The center will be one of 30 Army wellness center worldwide. Each facility offers the same standardized programs, so that Soldiers and Families can have resources to help them achieve optimal health regardless of duty station.

Jheri Weidensall, director of Fort Campbell's Army Wellness Center, said the center will offer six core programs -- health assessment review, physical fitness, healthy nutrition, stress management, general wellness education and tobacco cessation education.

"Our mission is to provide integrated and standardized primary prevention programs and services that promote, enhance and sustain healthy lifestyles to improve the overall well-being of Soldiers and Family members," Weidensall said. "Essentially we're here to improve the health and overall well-being of the military population and enhance readiness and resiliency in our Soldiers."

The center provides services to all TRICARE beneficiaries including Soldiers, Family members and retirees. However, leadership at Fort Campbell's three target populations are Soldiers with suboptimal fitness, suboptimal weight or who are injury prone. The center can intervene and assist Soldiers in becoming healthier before they fail either an Army Physical Fitness Test or must enroll in the Army body composition program.

The center uses cutting edge technology to provide Soldiers with individualized feedback. The bod pod is a capsule that patrons sit in during the assessment. When closed, it can use air displacement to accurately calculate body composition. Weidensall said it is approximately 99 percent accurate, and is a large improvement over the biometric impedance systems many gyms use to calculate body fat.

The center also uses state of the art equipment to test for aerobic capacity. During the assessment, people will wear a mask and walk or jog on a treadmill or ride a bike. The system measures oxygen consumption and gives accurate readings on a person's fitness level. The center also offers strength and flexibility tests as part of the fitness test.

In a room painted a soothing shade of blue, the center's staff uses biofeedback to help patrons control stress.

The center also can test people for resting metabolic rates using the same system as the fitness test in a different mode. A person will rest while either wearing a hood, or a mask if they are claustrophobic and the device can accurately measure how many calories a person burns in a day while at rest. This can help people using the services at the Army Wellness Center tailor a weight management plan for their individual needs.

"With the metabolic assessment and the physical fitness assessment, patrons can follow up every 90 days for those assessments," Weidensall said. "You can follow up with the bod pod every single month to help track your progress."

Education and coaching is how the center can put the data from the assessments into action for improving people's wellness. The center will start offering classes concerning nutrition, coping with stress, healthy sleep habits and metabolism.

"We teach meals-in-minutes to help you get healthy meals on the tables quick," Weidensall said. "We offer a follow up class to the metabolic testing, upping your metabolism. We do healthy sleep habits and we also do a stress management class. We also do tobacco education. The tobacco cessation program ran by preventive medicine is actually going to be held at our building as well."

The center's staff is there to encourage people to maintain a healthy lifestyle and serve as accountability partners for people working to meet their health goals. Sometimes people will not immediately achieve success and the center's staff can provide the expertise to help people tweak their lifestyles until they find a healthy routine that allows people to achieve success.

"We find between those 90-day periods we can struggle with their goals or people were doing so great on our diet on an exercise plan, but come to a plateau." Weidensall said. "So we recommend coming in and see one of our health educators, so that we can go over your eating, your nutrition, your exercise, anything that you need to go over and help you overcome your struggles."

The educators can use the data from the assessment to help people pinpoint problems and give people the tools to fix their problems through education and coaching. The Army Wellness Center promotes the Performance Triad of restful sleep, physical activity and quality nutrition that underpins much of the Army's healthy lifestyles focus to its patrons. Because deployments require healthy, physically fit Soldiers, maintaining individual health and fitness is vitally important. Weidensall said one goal is to increase readiness by "helping that Soldier pass his PT test, and not just pass it but ace it as well as helping with body composition and letting them know what they need to do not just on a physical fitness side but on the nutrition side so that Soldiers are able to perform in sustained operations, as well as limit injuries."

The center also can bring their services to units, to help leaders increase their formation's health, performance and readiness. It takes a 30-day notice to the Army Wellness Center, with all the pertinent details included in the request.

The center's hours are from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with lunch from noon until 1 p.m. It is open on training holidays, but not on federal holidays. Adults do not need a referral to take advantage of the services the Army Wellness Center offers. Minor children, will need a referral from a medical provider to use the center. For more information about the center call 270-461-3451.

"[The Army Wellness Center is here] to help you reach your goals whatever they may be -- gaining weight, maintaining weight, losing weight, dealing with stress -- whatever they are," Weidensall said. "You come in, you speak to staff and we just help you along the way to reach your goals in the end."