The Army Wellness Center has reopened with COVID-19 risk-mitigation protocols in place and is available for in-person health coaching, stress management sessions, body composition analysis and wellness classes.
Anna Schwartz, supervisory health educator, said her staff is ready and eager to assist Fort Leonard Wood community members in improving their overall health.
“I want to make sure people understand that we are open,” she said, referencing many open appointment times.
In accordance with social distancing protocols, every visitor must wear a face covering and answer COVID-19 screening questions before entering AWC, Building 350. Additionally, each class taught by AWC has a maximum of 14 spots – available on a first come, first serve basis, she said. All individual sessions and classes are scheduled by appointment only.
Schwartz assured community members that her office prioritizes the health and safety of all clients.
“We can’t currently provide the fitness or metabolic assessments, but that’s due to COVID-19 and the safety of our clients,” she said.
AWC takes a holistic approach to health-coaching services, educating clients on – and examining multiple factors of – wellness, such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress and tobacco usage, she said.
“We can talk about anything relating to their health and fitness,” she said. “We can identify areas that they need to focus on. Maybe some people don’t know what kind of goal they should make, so we can help them create a (plan) to meet their health and fitness goals.”
Some factors play off each other, too, resulting in a vicious circle, Schwartz added.
“Sleep and stress go hand-in-hand,” she said. “If somebody is not getting adequate sleep, especially chronically, their hormone regulation goes out of whack. You push out more of the stress hormone and then you become more stressed, and then because you’re stressed out, you don’t get very good sleep.”
She encouraged anyone struggling with stress to take advantage of the resources AWC provides, such as individualized stress management sessions.
“We really want to help empower people to understand that there are ways that you can get your stress under control,” said Alexis House, who runs the sessions at AWC. “That’s not something you should be ashamed about.”
Staff said clients have access to technology which shows real-time biological feedback on the stress management techniques they learn.
“Even if you feel like you’re stressed out in those one-on-one appointments … we can show you from this data that physiologically (the techniques) were helping your body get out of that stressed state,” House said.
AWC also educates and assists community members with tobacco education, which Schwartz said, is a stress factor and has a tangible effect on the body’s ability to fight off illnesses – like COVID-19.
“We do know that tobacco use drastically limits your immune system,” she said. “If your body is constantly immuno-suppressed by using tobacco products, then you’re going to be more likely to contract illnesses and probably have worse effects. Somebody who uses tobacco products also has fragmented sleep … or they don’t have as deep of sleep, which limits our ability to both physically and mentally recover from each day.”
Schwartz urged tobacco users to take the opportunity to quit by scheduling a private one-on-one session with one of her fellow health educators.
AWC services are available to service members – active duty, Reserve and National Guard – family members, retirees and Department of the Army civilians. Call 573.596.9677 for more information or to make an appointment.