By Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Less than 18 months ago, Sierra Faulk walked into the Fort Carson Army Wellness Center (AWC) as an intern. Now, according to AWC Director Glen Williams, she’s one of the top health educators in the organization.
“I think she’s just got that type of personality where she can relate to people pretty quickly,” Williams said. “She’s got that right mix of discipline and empathy for our clients.”
When clients sign up at AWC, they’re assigned a health educator who helps them attain whatever fitness goal they may have, be it weight loss, recovering from injury or increasing strength and endurance.
Faulk is one health educator that AWC clients meet with from the very first day.
“When people come here for the first time we ask about their goals,” Faulk said. “Some are trying to lose weight, while others are looking to compete or are training for future events. Others are trying to reduce stress or improve sleep habits. So, we run them through our testing for body fat percentage and metabolic rate and give them some reality as to where they are health wise. Then we come up with a game plan and give calorie recommendations.”
The AWC clientele ranges from ages 18 to 75 and all come in with their own challenges and desires.
“I had a 71-year-old client recently who lost 50 pounds,” Faulk said. “She began tracking her calories and now walks six miles a day. And, she went from being obese to well within healthy standards.”
Much of the health educators’ tasks involve learning about their individual clients, their lifestyle, motivation level and fitness education level.
“People say they want to begin eating a healthy diet, but they don’t know what a healthy diet is,” Faulk said. “They don’t know how many calories they’re currently consuming every day. So, we help them find out their numbers. Each person is different.”
But it’s just one aspect of her job and Williams’ assessment of Faulk’s success doesn’t just stem from her effective demeanor with clients.
AWC health educators serve in a variety of roles, from coach to adviser to classroom teacher. And Faulk, a former Marine, says it’s important to be proficient at all of them.
“I’m our representative for the AWC’s bariatric program, where we help people with behavior modification following gastric bypass surgery,” she said. “We try to help people with lifestyle modification. Help them make changes to their everyday behavior.”
She also teaches health classes revolving around specialized curricula, stress management, performance triad, nutrition and sleep hygiene.
“Under that title of certified health coach and certified personal trainer, we are considered providers,” Williams said. “So, Sierra meets with clients every day, but she also has a lot of additional duties. She’ll counsel clients during pregnancy PT, she’ll teach nutrition classes for Soldiers who are coming off a pregnancy and she’ll teach various classes for units here and at their locations.”
For someone who’s been in the business for just 18 months, it’s been a long career journey already. She says she’s motivated by the success stories of her clients, who often depart their AWC experience with a renewed and healthier path.
In the near future, Faulk will play an instrumental role in how AWC adapts to the Army’s new APFT.
“With the APFT changing from traditional situps, run and pushups, the way we coach people is going to change,” she said. “We’re part of the Army Body Composition program, so we’ll be inundated with Army units.”
For now, she’s comfortable at AWC, but is unsure of her career path in the distant future.
“I don’t know if my career will keep me within AWC, but I like serving the military population,” she said. “I want to stay on the preventative side of the health and wellness field.”