Fresh Start: Take advantage of Army Wellness Centers

Courtney Dock, Department of the Army civilian, sits in a BodPod during her body fat composition assessment Nov. 28, 2018, at the Army Wellness Center on Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. The BodPod is an air displacement plethysmography that uses whole body densitometry to determine body composition using a very precise scale. This assessment is one of many available for free at all Army Wellness Centers Army-wide for Soldiers, dependents and DoD employees to gage their current health and wellness.
May 08, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Each January 1, thousands of people across the country resolve to get healthy or lose weight in the New Year. These resolutions are more impactful for the active duty Soldier, because their life and the lives of their fellow Soldiers depend on their overall health and well-being.

Readiness is Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley’s number one priority for the Army. Readiness includes medical readiness – for the Soldier and their family members. Luckily for service members and other beneficiaries, there are multiple, free resources available.

The Army Wellness Center (AWC) is a one of those resources for fitness, body fat testing and healthy eating classes accessible to active duty Soldiers, beneficiaries and retirees.

“This program is a great resource because you can take the testing performed at AWC and apply it to your everyday life,” said Patrice Hickey, director, Joint Base San Antonio Army Wellness Center.

The 37 wellness centers across the Army worldwide are there to help jumpstart a person’s road to success toward a healthy lifestyle.

“The program has three parts starting with body composition assessment, a resting metabolic assessment, and a fitness assessment as a baseline,” said Hickey. “We encourage people to follow up with a session with a health educator so they can make goals that are specific to them.”

“A body composition assessment will allow people to understand how much of their body is comprised of lean tissue and how much is fat tissue,” she added. “We also use the resting metabolic rate assessment to understand how many calories you’re expending. We use all this together to develop a good, healthy eating plan then we follow it with education with a health educator.”

Hickey said if a person has a specific goal in mind, for example, and would like to lose weight in the New Year, then they can get measurement testing and a tailored plan for a goal of losing weight in six, eight, or 12 weeks.

An additional resource available through AWC is an education fitness program specifically for Soldiers and beneficiaries who are away on TDY or deployed called Staying Fit, Home and Away. The program includes exercises anyone can do at home or perform body weight exercises when there is no available gym.

“Movement is movement no matter where you do it at,” said Hickey. “Just because you don’t have a fancy gym doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. We teach P3 [Performance Triad] and utilize apps to download on your phone. We like to use technology a lot, especially with the nutrition classes.”

The Army’s investment in these Wellness Centers is a testament to this focus. According to Hickey, the bulk of people utilizing AWC services are active duty members, especially now that the Army’s fitness test is changing. AWC offers strength and aerobic testing baselines, which measures cardiovascular endurance and back strength. A Soldier can use those numbers to help prepare for their PT test and ensure readiness.

“We want Soldiers to be ready and you can’t be ready if you’re not physically fit to be able to carry out the mission,” Hickey said. “Bad habits will lead you toward developing different types of diseases. Soldiers get the information here and at their units but we open this up to their beneficiaries as well. We want the whole family to eat healthy, move well, and be fit.”

For more information about AWC’s in your areas, use