Wellness Center offers holistic approach to health

The Wiesbaden Army Wellness Center has been open since Nov. 1, 2013 and has helped more than 2,315 clients. Considering that “wellness centers” are a generally new concept in the Army, the community might wonder what the AWC has to offer.

Andy Munsterman, director of the Wiesbaden AWC, reflected on the past year and a quarter and what the AWC has to offer.

Expert Chris Canales teaches a class on nutrition Feb. 6 at the Wiesbaden AWC.

Expert Chris Canales teaches a class on nutrition
Feb. 6 at the Wiesbaden AWC.

“We’re non-judgmental. Our subject matter experts help you find your own way; it’s about what you want to achieve,” he said. “What motivates you? Is it to pass the physical training test, have more energy to play with your kids, live longer than your parents? Come to us and we’ll help you decide.”

The AWC services are free and open to all ID cardholders: active duty Soldiers, spouses, dependents over 18 and Department of Army civilians. Services include metabolic testing, body fat measurement, cardio-respiratory VO2 testing, muscular strength and flexibility testing and wellness coaching.

“I think a lot of people struggle with finding what’s intrinsically motivating them to make changes in their behavior,” added Chris Canales, health educator. “Finding these motivations and regularly reminding yourself of them can help lead to long term success.”

Munsterman and his expert team of exercise physiologists, nurses, and wellness and strength coaches aim to put the responsibility of change in their clients’ hands, giving them the option to measure their progress with follow-up appointments. And the Wiesbaden AWC is unique among other Army wellness centers in that it’s the only one measuring the outcomes of their clients.

“I think the challenge is to keep them motivated. When they see their own data, it’s hard to argue. It’s an eye-opener. They’re so excited when they first start,” said Munsterman.

Soldiers can self-refer, but their attendance is not enforceable by the chain of command and their results on the wellness tests can’t change past PT results, but they can affect future ones.

Considering 69 percent of active duty service members are overweight or obese and just 66 percent of the American general population is, coupled with the fact that TRICARE spends $1.1 billion a year treating non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and many other health issues, it’s a real concern for the Army and part of the reason it established wellness centers under the Public Health Command. But the AWC looks beyond “black-and-white” PT scores, taking a holistic health approach to their clients with the mission of “primary prevention,” said Munstermann.

“Poor health is like living paycheck-to-paycheck — you’re not rich or poor. But unless you have a reserve of health, it’s tough to bounce back from setbacks,” said Munsterman.

More than 2,000 clients and Munsterman agree: “You can’t afford not to make an appointment.”

For more information about the Wiesbaden AWC or to make an appointment, call mil 590-1478 or civ (06371) 9464-1478. (Mackinley Bullock, a Wiesbaden High School senior, is a student intern with the garrison’s Public Affairs Office. Shayna Brouker contributed to this story.)