Book a Wellness Appointment and Find your Inner Cowboy/girl

By Rita Gore – YMCA Volunteer Writer

“Nobody’s ever listed rodeo as one of their activities” said Wellness Coach Daryl Landiak as I completed the computerized assessment part, of my Wellness appointment.

“Don’t suppose it counts, that I was once bucked off a horse?” I say.  Landiak grins, and then with a shake of his head and a firm “No,” skillfully moves me on to the next section.

Our little “back and forth” was just one of the bits of good-natured conversation that took place between Landiak and me. My appointment with him came to pass, after Lisa Kingston; Eau Claire YM Program Manager requested a blog about Wellness Coaching, how it linked to Coach Approach and Fitlinxx.

All I knew was that these one hour appointments were free, available to all members and ‘till recently, underutilized. Being hands on, I signed up.

Right from the beginning what hooked me was the interaction with Landiak, his individual attention, non-judgemental attitude and humour.  Landiak’s approach, let me relax, “admit” I’d slacked off from formal exercise then get help developing a come-back plan.

Geoff Starling, Strength and Conditioning Director at the Eau Claire YMCA, is a believer too that these personal interactions with Landiak are linked to a recent surge in Wellness Appointments, Eau Claire’s experienced.

“We made Daryl a champion of the program, since then it has taken off. Having one person in that role has made a difference. He’s very good at assessing people’s needs and knowing how to steer them” says Starling.

What‘s Changed?

Front Desk’s mantra for one. It’s become: “Welcome to the YMCA, as part of your membership you are entitled to engage in our Wellness program and have a free appt with one of our Wellness coaches. When would you like to book in?”

Offering “one-off” Wellness appointment said Starling happened because YMCA staff learned,” not everyone fits neatly into a box.”The appointments provide a “generic booking” which allow YM members to receive one-on-one help from qualified coaches to find the best program fit.

Starling says qualified Wellness coaches like Landiak,” can usually tell in few minutes whether the member will need a single appointment, a series of appointments, or neither.” In fact maybe they just want a zumba class or help prepping for tri”.

Coach Approach and Fitlinxx are but two options offered during that initial Wellness appointment. Landiak says first off though, he works to build trust and rapport.

“I give something of myself, examples from my life, because if people hear something about my life often they feel less intimidated. Just because I look fit now, does not mean that I have not had some difficulties. It works both ways though he points out, “If people don’t give me a few details about what their life is like, I won’t be able to help them as much as I could.”

Landiak is open but without crossing a line. He briefly shares that he’s experienced depression and credits exercise with getting him back on track. It’s obvious that maintaining his health and keeping fit are priorities in Landiak’s own life. His work as a Wellness Coach allows him to “transfer that belief” to others.

Landiak reports of  50 Wellness appointments booked last month- 1/3 were Coach Approach appointments, others simply a tour of the facility, or a set up on FitLinxx.

If Coach Approach is the route, Landiak helps the member identify 3 long term goals that are SMART-specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific. Based on these goals and particular interests, the two develop a contract.

By the second appointment, two weeks later, Landiak’s created an individual exercise program linked with Fitlinxx, an “in-house” computerized tracking system is connected to the cardiovascular equipment and a selected group of the resistant training equipment.

Exercise machines are networked into a central database, providing exercisers and staff access to a wealth of information on individual progress while it logs and records member’s fitness activity. It’s great for people who like “gadgetry.”

To monitor progress, tweak goals, review routine, and provide encouragement though, four shorter follow-up Coach Approach sessions happen monthly over 4 months.

Varity and Awareness Key:

If none of the above options fits, Landiak takes the time to figure what will, sometimes it’s how to stretch or a couple options for a certain muscle group. Once, it was a bride to be and her bride’s maid who wanted “toned arms and backs” for the wedding day.

It’s the variety of people who show up Landiak enjoys. “Some are happy go lucky, super talkative, some shy or timid or “deadly serious” -just give me the meat and potatoes, get it over with.” Those with no exercise knowledge and starting from scratch he appreciates too, “because they’ve formed no bad habits yet.”

Coach Approach Landiak believes is particularly beneficial for people who have not been exercising regularly or who are returning to exercise after a long period away. Sometimes too, he sets up fitness routine using only the Fitlinxx method, a program Starling believes is” highly underutilized.”

For more information on the Coach Approach program, please contact your YMCA branch.

Landiak believes it’s important to predict there might be obstacles to maintaining a regular exercise routine “so people don’t think they’re alone, when they experience setbacks.”

That’s why, by the second session of Coach Approach, he’s already talking relapse prevention.  Goal setting and rewards are part of the discussion too. When people don’t show up” which happens about 30% of the time with no phone call to cancel, that’s frustrating for Landiak.

In my view, they’ve missed a golden opportunity. A Wellness appointment at Eau Claire YM can provide a flexible and powerful entry point to a wide range of resources. It’s an important early intervention for new YM members and those like me, who need a “tune-up.”

Though I won’t be qualifying to compete in the 2014 Calgary Stampede rodeo, what I will take away is much better; an individualized and realistic work-out program, structured and designed by staff who care, can make me laugh and who’ll be around for support.