Healthy by Design
Wellness 360 charts better living one positive step at a time.
By Lisa Wogan | Photos by Dave Estep
Amid heavy bags that hang from the ceiling, WAC member Ron Lynch deftly winds orange hand wrap across his knuckles and wrists. Beat Box class starts in a few minutes, and Ron is standing in Studio C on the 4th Floor. He’s lean and toned, wearing a tech-fabric T-shirt and long black shorts. Hands ready for business, he grabs a jump rope and joins the whirring and clicking of the warm-up.
Ron looks every inch the journeyman boxer. But the 59-year-old banker is relatively new to Beat Box, or any fitness class for that matter. It’s one of several habits he adopted just last year while participating in the WAC’s Wellness 360 program. “It wipes me out,” he says about the fierce session of calisthenics, shadow-boxing, and sparring. But he keeps coming back for more.
Instilling new positive practices is a hallmark of Wellness 360, which starts with an eight-week immersion that provides members a comprehensive fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and recovery program. It delivers a mix of education, support and accountability that focuses as much on developing good routines and smart decision-making as on hitting specific fitness or weight-loss targets.
Meanwhile, Ron hardly seems like a man who needs better fitness habits. Even before Wellness 360, he made hiking the cardio-buster trail up Mount Si a semi-regular activity, and for years he’s been a steady presence at the WAC.
“I come in, I jump on the Stairmaster, I’ll go do some machines,” he says. But he watched his weight inch up to 193 pounds from his gold standard of 175. “I wasn’t doing enough to bring the weight down and to give me the kind of energy I was looking for. Going over 190 was a wake-up call.”
WAC Nutritionist Eric Chen, who leads the Wellness 360 program, calls that the Harajuku Moment—or “oh my gosh” moment—when something shakes up your thinking in a fundamental way. For Ron, it was crossing the Rubicon of 190. For other members, it has been a major health concern, such as surgery or an injury; or getting bad cholesterol results or blood-pressure readings; or, as in the case of one 74-year-old member, realizing you simply don’t have the energy to play with your grandchild.
When awareness leads to the desire for change, Wellness 360 calls in the A-team to get it done. Pulling together a variety of health and wellness components—including personal training sessions, unlimited group fitness classes, nutrition consultations, wellness coaching, B-12 shots, and even a salon makeover—in one package, the program puts members on the right path to feeling and looking their best.
Ron can testify. He got down to his target weight and gained muscle mass. Now he says he’s eating smarter, developing more effective workouts, and staying diligent about flexibility and mobility exercises. He’s also sticking with Beat Box. Perhaps most telling, his wife, Oralia, followed his footsteps and entered her own Wellness 360 program.
Friendly and attainable
Wellness 360 begins with Eric Chen. The University of California, Davis–educated nutritionist and certified personal trainer brims with enthusiasm for the program. His excitement is infectious. Every week, he summarizes his clients’ previous seven days and plans for the next. “The schedule helps individuals come up with their own workouts once the program is over,” says Eric, who always keeps one eye trained on the long term.
“We love seeing participants continue with personal training and fitness activities after those initial eight weeks of Wellness 360,” WAC Fitness Programs Manager George Sommerrock says. George helps connect members with personal trainers and was part of the WAC team that created Wellness 360.
“Personal training allows members to receive customized coaching,” George says. “That really helps reduce the risk of injury and sets the foundation for sustainable success.”
“That’s key,” says Eric. “It’s not about eight weeks. It’s about creating lifelong change.”
For WAC member Nathaniel Milner, meeting with Eric was like getting great advice from a friend. Instead of launching into a prepackaged plan, Eric began by asking about and creating a blueprint built around Nathaniel’s life. During check-ins, they’d cover a range of topics—maybe 30 different things, Nathaniel says. Then Eric would follow up with an email later that day, nailing every topic.
“You know how sometimes you meet with someone who is trying to help you, and you’re like, ‘I know you’re not really listening to me,’” Nathaniel says. Meetings with Eric are the exact opposite. “He really cares.”
Now 35, Nathaniel was a college athlete and worked out regularly prior to moving to Seattle in 2015 to take a demanding post at Amazon Restaurants. In the past four years, he’s also had two children. One side effect of these developments? Thirty extra pounds.
Nathaniel found the Wellness 360 commitment totally manageable. “It felt really attainable,” he says.
With an average of three visits to the WAC a week, Nathaniel says he hit his goal, which was to feel good and have energy. Shortly after finishing his initial eight weeks, he moved his goalposts. “Now I want to reduce my body fat even more—and I want to do this and I want to do that,” he says.
Listening to him, you can feel his self-confidence, a common outcome of the Wellness 360 program.
“Regular exercise has many underlying benefits on top of great physical improvements,” Eric says. “Not only do you feel good about seeing your body change, but the action itself also leads to increased self-confidence.”
The glass is half full
Six months out from completing Wellness 360, WAC member Jennifer Williams is an advertisement for well-being. After walking to the Club from her office to talk about her experience, she practically glows, a state she attributes to her new habit of hydrating regularly.
“Before Eric, my order of fluids was coffee, wine, water,” she says with a smile. “So I flipped it. I still have my wine. I still have my coffee. But I’m more focused on how much water I have.” She says her skin looks better, she thinks more clearly, and she’s less dependent on caffeine.
A senior executive in finance and mother to a toddler, Jennifer moved to Seattle from Southern California a little more than a year ago. She joined the WAC to establish good routines in her new hometown. But membership alone wasn’t enough. Over the course of eight months, she worked out only twice. Mostly, the Club was where she brought her daughter to swim.
When her doctor told her that if she didn’t start making different choices she was going to develop health problems, the 46-year-old signed up for Wellness 360. Her visits to the WAC changed dramatically.
“I think what Eric does exceptionally well is he worked with my schedule and made it easy,” she says. “But he also very deliberately found a reason to bring me to the Club every day that I was in town.”
She’d come in for a class, to get a massage (four are included in the program), or to meet with Eric or her trainer. “Some of the, ‘Oh, I don’t know what they do over in that corner of the Club’ went away,” she says. “Now I feel comfortable walking onto any floor and really knowing what’s available.”
Jennifer has belonged to other clubs and has worked with trainers before but says Wellness 360 is categorically different. She felt supported by a team. She also appreciated Eric’s coaching about breathing and relaxation, in addition to exercise and nutrition, and says her sleep patterns improved.
Overall, she felt things shift on a deep level. She also learned to be comfortable with the journey, which really never ends. She still pops into Eric’s office before or after workouts and refers back to his emails for a “course correction” when she needs it.
“This is not, when you’re finished it’s all over and solved,” she says. “What Eric said to me a number of times during the program is, ‘I want to help you with tools you’ll use for the rest of your life.’”
—Lisa Wogan is a Seattle-based freelance writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As published in the January/February 2018 issue of WAC Magazine
—Posted January 12, 2018