Army Wellness Center helps with nutrition, fitness goals

By Laura LeveringFebruary 10, 2022

1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Tray Colbert, right, and Ariana Haynes demonstrate the flexibility portion of a fitness test. Both are health educators at the Fort Gordon Army Wellness Center. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sydney Robinson, a health promotion technician, adjusts an oxygen mask on Jennifer Papp, a health educator. The mask is worn during the treadmill portion of fitness testing and helps measure respiratory fitness. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jennifer Papp, a health educator with Fort Gordon’s Army Wellness Center, participates in the treadmill portion of fitness testing. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Tray Colbert, a health educator with Fort Gordon’s Army Wellness Center, sits in the center’s Bod Pod. The machine uses air displacement plethysmography and takes less than one minute to determine a client’s body composition. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Tray Colbert, a health educator with Fort Gordon’s Army Wellness Center, tests his strength using a grip tool. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL

If the effects of the pandemic have you in a slump, New Years’ resolutions aren’t going as hoped, or you simply want to see positive changes in overall health, it could be time to give the Army Wellness Center a try.

The AWC provides services and programs designed to assess, improve, and sustain health and performance using advanced technology. At a time when many find themselves struggling to regain a sense of normalcy and good health, staff at the AWC want the community to know they are here.

“We know that COVID has had a significant impact on a lot of people’s personal health, especially when it comes to their fitness and their weight, and we are resourced to help with that,” said Adam Plagens, Fort Gordon AWC supervisory health educator.

Personalized fitness and nutrition programs, stress and sleep management, and unit assessments are just some of the tools the AWC uses to help clients achieve optimal health. All of this is done while keeping COVID-19 concerns a top priority.

“We were able to coordinate with the hospital … and we have preventive measures in place that allow people to safely participate in the fitness tests.”

The fitness tests had been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic and are one of the services Plagens said he is excited to let the community know has returned. Appointments for the fitness tests may be a spaced out and take longer due to sanitizing requirements, but that should not deter anyone from making an appointment.

“We put as many of the COVID mitigation steps that are required by our command and the CDC in place, so I want people to be confident that when they come in here, the risk is mitigated as much as possible, so we’re trying to prevent transmission as much as we can,” Plagens said.

Some services are even offered online for those who prefer or who cannot attend in person.

“We’ve had to become unique in our delivery of services, so we actually offer coaching and classes virtually now, so we utilize MS Teams,” Plagens said.

Plagens and his team also want commanders to know they offer unit assessments designed to optimize readiness. Unit assessments are conducted over a 60-day period. During the initial phase, or Day 1, service members undergo a metabolic test and body composition, followed by a briefing to discuss results. Follow-up assessments and tests are conducted on Days 30 and 60.

“The benefit for that is it helps service members and leaders kind of know overall where they stand in terms of their overall fitness or what they are trying to do,” Plagens said.

Service members who wish to develop themselves further may opt to schedule a personalized assessment and tests.

“We are the subject matter experts on sleep, activity, nutrition here on the installation because we have that background and depth of knowledge to really help anybody,” Plagens said. “Whether it’s starting out with a new program or they’re wanting to improve in very specific performance ways, we can look at what the specifics are of what you need to do based on what your goals are.”

Understanding the complexity of some work schedules, Plagens said he knows it can be a challenge for some to leave work for an in-person appointment, so he and his staff are trying to be as accommodating as possible.

“If you want to talk to somebody about setting your goals or you just want to get some information about nutrition or training, we can easily set that up and we can do that virtually or over the phone,” he said. “We don’t lock the doors during lunch hours anymore, so if you have the ability to come in at lunch, you can swing by and schedule an appointment with us and we can get you taken care of.

Experts in the field

Overseen by the Army Public Health Center, the AWC is staffed entirely by health educators with college degrees in allied health.

“Whether that’s exercise physiology or kinesiology or even exercise science, we all have a formal education background dealing with physical activity and nutrition,” explained Plagens. Along with formal education, AWC staff have accredited certifications in various areas that have provided them with the knowledge needed to help clients reach specific goals.

“We have top tier certifications backing up the education piece, and we have to maintain currency within those certifications so we are aware of current trends and standards, and we’re able to provide that information back [to clients],” Plagens added.

The AWC is located in Building 29605 on Barnes Avenue. To make an appointment, call 706-787-6756 or stop by the center Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. All military ID cardholders are eligible to receive services at no cost.