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Measuring Health in Recovery

Brain speed, balance, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, upper and lower body strength, and body fat percentage. These are the seven parameters that are used to assess Vinland’s clients’ health.


Vinland Fitness and Wellness Manager Jeff Willert studies how these parameters change from when clients first arrive to when they leave Vinland.

“It gives them a perception of their physical capabilities,” Willert said. “We see changes in every parameter and how their pain levels change between 0 and 10.”

Willert has collected data since 2008. This data shows objectively how clients are doing.

“When they see the change from where they started their eyes light up,” he said. “They are getting addicted to something healthy.”

His study shows in numbers how each client changes in regards to balance, body strength and more. But the numbers say far more than that, said Willert.

“Results tell them if they work harder; and show them if they consistently and diligently go to all their groups they will feel better,” he said. “You see results and you have a better chance to remain sober.”

For Willert and staff, studying the numbers is a way to hone in on ways to best help the clients. If they see less success happening in an area like balance then they can find ways to help bring those up.

“For balance testing we brought in the Bosu system and decided to introduce that and a wobble board,” Willert said.


Bosu (pictured here) are commonly seen at gyms and workout facilities  as an inflated cushion attached to a flat, round board. Clients work on balance by standing on the inflated cushion for up to two minutes.

A main challenge is helping clients fight through resistance or apathy. Willert said motivation is rarely a problem.

“Many come to us in very, very poor health,” Willert said. “But after a few weeks I often hear ‘this isn’t so bad and I feel better.’ They want to start writing the next chapter of their book.”

Willert has a 7 a.m. bonus class that is non-mandatory during the week. He has seen more and more clients attending it.

“That tells me there are self-starters here, they have motivation,” he said.

His hope is that exercise continues to be a big part of clients’ lives after they leave Vinland. In fact, he hopes it gives them something productive to do when work or daily living doesn’t.

Looking at the Numbers

The study can be broken down in many different ways, but the most important numbers to look at are the percent of change, which measures each category for male and female clients on how things changed from when they come to Vinland to when they leave.

There are two sides to the study, physical attributes and more mental or subjective attributes, that Willert said are most important when looking at how clients change.

The four physical categories include: percent of body fat; leg press (measured by pounds lifted); balance (measured by seconds able to balance); and hand grip, which represents upper body strength.

The mental or more subjective categories include: a client’s pain level; their brain speed (also called “peg board”); and “physical capacity,” which specifically shows how a client perceives their progress.

For men, percent of body fat went down 6 percent. They were able to lift 98 percent more weight on the leg press by the time they left Vinland and their balance increased by 14 seconds.  And their hand grip measured for upper body strength improved by 13 more pounds lifted.

For women, percent of body fat decreased by 5 percent. They were able to bench 34 percent more on the leg press when they left and increased balance time by 30 more seconds. Also, women’s upper body strength improved by 16 more pounds with the hand grip.


Vinland male clients reported a 27 percent decrease in their pain levels from when they first arrived and perceived that their physical capacity had increased by 33 percent.

Vinland female clients reported a 46 percent decrease in their pain levels and a 50 percent increase in their perceived physical capacity or what they felt they were capable of handling physically.

For all clients brain speed increased by 14 percent while at Vinland.