Couple combines skills for health and wellness coaching

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Nikki Wilke and Jim Ettenger have combined their training and talents in a new business offering health and wellness coaching. Wilke brings to the venture her experience as a nurse and nurse practitioner, while Ettenger has worked more than 25 years as a personal trainer and coach. The couple plan to offer a holistic approach to helping their clients. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Jim Ettenger and Nikki Wilke have combined their training and talents to tip the scales for their clients and, they hope, a growing population.

The Grand Junction couple have launched Grand Mesa Wellness to offer a range of health and wellness coaching services.

While weight loss and fitness gains rank high among the goals they expect to help clients achieve, Ettenger and Wilke offer an all-of-the-above approach to promote physical, mental and spiritual well-being. “We’re in the transformation business,” Ettenger said.

Ettenger brings to the venture more than 25 years of experience as a personal trainer and coach. He’s also a five-time member of the U.S. team that’s competed at the World Triathlon Championships. Wilke has worked for 12 years as a registered nurse, the last seven as a nurse practitioner. The couple recently completed additional training in health coaching.

The two met in 2017 when Wilke began training with Ettenger to help her with her long-distance running. They were married in August.

Wilke said they soon realized they could work together to promote health and wellness. “We could combine knowledge and be a powerhouse in what we offer clients.”

The couple tailor their services to meet the needs of individual clients and small groups, but offer a six-month program. That’s a span that works well, Ettenger said, in both measuring change and ensuring new habits are sustainable.

An initial health consultation is free, he said, and includes a review of clients’ medical histories and a discussion of their short and long-term goals as well as their definitions of wellness. That provides a road map of sorts of where to head.

If a client wishes, blood tests can be conducted to track progress on cholesterol levels and other medical indicators.

Coaching sessions address issues related to health, nutrition, fitness and overall well-being. That could include everything from exercise classes to trips to grocery stores to discuss shopping for healthy foods to tips on meditation.

Ettenger and Wilke said they’re available between sessions to answer questions and offer encouragement. Wilke said it’s important for health and wellness coaches to hold their clients accountable, but also remind them of the progress they’ve made. “What can we celebrate this week?”

Ettenger and Wilke said they can’t take the place of doctors or mental health counselors, but can collaborate with professionals as well as bridge gaps in helping clients. Rather than address the symptoms of problems, Ettenger and Wilke said they can help root causes in a more holistic way.

A combination of lifestyle and food choices has created a growing health problem in the United States, Ettenger and Wilke said.

According to the results of a study conducted at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, nearly half the U.S. population is projected to obese by 2030, and a quarter of the population will struggle with severe obesity by that time. In 10 years, 29 states are projected to have majority populations that are obese, and all states will have populations that are at least 35 percent obese.

Rather than address the problem through exercise and nutritional changes, there’s been an emphasis instead on prescribing medications, Ettenger said. “It’s just sort of a failed system.”

Ettenger and Wilke said they take a holistic approach to helping clients that includes exercise and diet as well as mental and spiritual well-being. That could include strategies for better dealing with stress as well as helping clients better understand themselves. The ultimate objective, they said, is to help clients experience joy in their lives.

In addition to meeting with individuals and small groups in person, Ettenger and Wilke expect to expand their geographic reach by working with clients online.

Wilke said she’s hopeful the venture can help more people avoid the health problems associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. “Wow. We could really make some big changes.”

Ettenger said they launched Grand Mesa Wellness in January to take advantage of the resolutions people often make at the beginning of a year to lose weight, get fit and eat better. That motivation helps to get people going, he said. But it takes discipline to keep growing.

Ettenger and Wilke said they want to help people get going and growing.

For more information about Grand Mesa Wellness, visit www.grandmesawellness.com, call 422-3144 or send an email to jim@grandmesawellness.com or nikki@grandmesawellness.com.