Personalized workout helps Guard member on active duty

While serving his country in the Air National Guard, a Sanford Health leader is staying fit through Sanford POWER.

People stretching

In advance of leaving for active duty with the Air National Guard, Nathan Peterson, Sanford Health chief of staff and vice president of strategic planning and governance, reached out to Sanford POWER for help creating a personalized workout. He wanted to use the 100 days away from home, job and family –- a wife and three kids -– to get into the best shape of his life, while serving his country.

Sanford POWER leaders met with Peterson leading up to his departure to assess his goals, schedule and available equipment to formulate a way to stay in touch and to train from afar. The idea: Even unusual or difficult circumstances leave room for self-improvement –- and there are experts that can help.

Here’s what Sanford POWER director Scott Hettenbach said about the project:

How did this trial come about?

Nathan wanted to make the best of his time over there. His first priority is taking care what the military needs him to do every day, but after that there’s some downtime. He wanted to take advantage of that to benefit his physical wellness. Before this, he had a morning workout he was doing a couple of days a week so he had a little bit of a routine, but like anybody you can get stuck in a routine and it sometimes becomes a little bit boring. He was looking to change it up and be challenged through a personalized workout.

Not everyone serves in the military, obviously. But we all face hurdles to wellness. What do you think this says about that?

You’ve just got to find whatever works for your individual situation. Even being halfway across the world, away from his family and working six, 12-hour days, he still finds time four to five days a week to be active. I think it’s worked for him because he’s actually scheduling it and has structured it into his day. He doesn’t leave it up to chance. To his credit, he’s reached out to some experts and that’s helped structure the program and give the guidance needed –- and also that contact for encouragement.

How does nutrition fit into this?

Lizzie Kasparek, a sports dietitian from the Sanford Sports Science Institute met with Nathan. They’ve gone back and forth, remotely. She’s giving him advice on what to be doing during a 12-hour work day -– don’t eat once then starve yourself. When you’re an industrial athlete, you need to make sure your blood sugar stays level so you can do your job at your best and then also be ready for whatever workout you’re going to do throughout the course of the day.

How does technology factor into this? Is this a unique situation or does Sanford POWER have the ability to work remotely with anyone?

A personalized workout has to fit into your plan. We also wanted to give him things he enjoyed doing rather than us dictating what he should be doing. If he goes there and hate every minute of it, he’s not going to do it.

We write home programs everyday for folks. You don’t necessarily have to be in our facility to take advantage of our experts. The technology we’re using has worked well for him, and we hope to be able to do more of that in the future. But for now, an email and a phone call and a home program can work wonders.

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