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Shining Gems of IWU: Assets and Assistance Within Reach
Wellness Program Offers Life-Enhancing
IWU Wellness staff includes, front row, Olegra Lewis, Cindy Leisberg, Emily Shoop,
Sara Schaller. Back row, Laurine Brown, Missy Smock, Jeremy Spencer, Allison Hatcher,
Tom Breitbarth and Tona Schenck.
August 19, 2010
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – In 1990, Missy Smock came to Illinois Wesleyan University with
a dream and a promise, to create a wellness program that would provide activities
and services that would afford life enhancement opportunities for faculty, staff,
immediate family members and retirees of the University. Twenty-plus years later,
the program has spread to students, alums and employees of collaborating organizations
who desire the holistic philosophy offered by the IWU Wellness Program.
▷ Related story: Program Explores
Real Meaning of Wellness
“Wellness goes beyond the physical component, “ said Smock, director of the IWU Wellness
Program. “Wellness is about finding different ways to create balance in the many aspects
that make up one’s life. There will be peaks and valleys accompanied by the emotional
rollercoaster that goes with the highs and lows. So, connecting with resources, social
connections among other things, to gain this balance is the key to a more holistic
approach to achieving life enhancement.”
The free, year-round program offers many services for IWU faculty and staff, as well
as activity classes for students.
The faculty/staff program includes activity classes, fitness orientations, wellness
workshops, health screenings, ergonomic evaluations and massage therapy, which is
performed in the wellness office at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center. The massage
therapy service is one of the few services where there is a fee required. The Wellness
Program also coordinates special annual events such as the Golf Tournament and the
Illinois Sustainable Living and Wellness Expo.
Smock and colleague Jeremy Spencer believe certain lifestyle changes are more achievable
if approached through hands-on experience.
“Eating healthier is one such example,” says Smock. “Cooking classes that teach people
how to incorporate more whole foods into their diet with quick and simple recipes
in the midst of busy lives is one way to promote change,” said Smock.
As a result, cooking classes are offered throughout the year, such as the holiday
Chocolate Truffles Class taught by staff members Melinda Baur and Cynthia Honegger
and the Yogurt (Madzoon) Making with Carol Churukian. Additionally, the Wellness website
contains a variety of healthy recipes for appetizers, salads, breads, main dishes
The program also offers wellness workshops on relaxation, meditation, gardening, self-care,
financial well-being, timely-health information and much more.
On-site health screenings are offered throughout the year including, blood pressure,
prostatic specific antigen, cholesterol and lipid profile, and a digital mammography
service. The results of all screenings go not only to the personal physician of the
faculty/staff members, but, to the employees themselves. Over the years, the Wellness
staff has discovered that this is an empowering tool to inspire lifestyle change when
The program also has a broad range of activity classes held at the Shirk Center and
in the dance studios in the Center of Natural Sciences (CNS), including Zumba, Functional
Training, Spinning, Pilates, Ball Pilates, Step, Low Impact, Strength & Stretch, Deep
Water Workout, Wee Swim, Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi and Yoga I and II, all of which are
offered in this fall, 2010.
While the faculty/staff Wellness Program is well established after years of use, the
student fitness program is relatively new. When Fitness Coordinator Spencer arrived
at Illinois Wesleyan in 2006, the student fitness program was just beginning. With
his help, it has blossomed into an in-demand program for the active student body.
“We essentially do five to seven activity classes per week which are taught for the
most part by students,” said Spencer. “It’s been very good because the student instructors
here are driven, dependable and fun.” The classes, taught at the Shirk Center, include,
Zumba, Core, Tai Kwon Do, Cycle, Pilates, Yoga, Boot Camp, Step, and Deep Water Workout.
Spencer recently collaborated with professional triathlete and Assistant Professor
Chris Sweet, information literacy librarian at The Ames Library to implement a Triathalon
Training program for faculty/staff and students.
While student participation varies throughout the year, Spencer notes that classes
have been well attended, normally averaging about 10 to 20 students per class. This
number explodes during May Term, when students have more free time.
“May Term is great because I think the students aren’t as overextended,” said Spencer.
“We get anywhere from 35 to 50 students per class.”
To keep up with the ever-changing athletic palate of the student body, Spencer and
Smock are constantly watching for the next new activity.
“I just have my eye out for what’s new and exciting,” said Smock, who received her
Zumba certification after discovering its popularity. “I look for classes that I think
both the faculty/staff and students would love.”
For additional information, visit the Wellness website at www.iwu.edu/~wellness/.
Contact: Jessica Hinterlong ‘11, (309) 556-3181