Thanks to her completion of the Guard’s Warrior Spirit Course in August at Fort Leonard Wood, Willhelm now successfully passes the Army Physical Fitness Test and meets her height and weight requirements.


Six months ago, Staff Sgt. Sharon Willhelm wasn’t meeting the physical fitness standards of being a Missouri Army National Guardsman.
Thanks to her completion of the Guard’s Warrior Spirit Course in August at Fort Leonard Wood, Willhelm now successfully passes the Army Physical Fitness Test and meets her height and weight requirements.
As part of the Missouri Army National Guard’s goal of total fitness, Willhelm was a member of the two-week pilot program, run by the 140th Missouri Regional Training Institute, which is designed to help soldiers find a way that works for them to meet their physical fitness standards. Guardsmen either volunteered or were told by their commands to take the course.
Willhelm, who volunteered, said her all-around quality of life has improved.
“My lifestyle of eating has changed and been very good — also, my stress level has gone down, coping with life is a lot better and my confidence has gone up,” she said. “There’s nothing in this course that I didn’t find valuable.”
At the second follow-up weekend to the course during December drill, Willhelm, who lives in Columbia, had lost 22 pounds from when she began the class in August.
“I came to this class to help me out, because they said they were going to show us how to eat well,” Willhelm said.
Before attending the course, it had been a full year since Willhelm had passed the Army Physical Fitness Test, which records the number of push-ups and sit-ups each soldier can do in two minutes, as well as a timed two-mile run. After implementing some of the eating and exercise habits she learned from the course into her life, Willhelm was able to pass the test in October.
“That was great — you wouldn’t believe it,” said Willhelm, who is the full-time training noncommissioned officer for the Special Troops Battalion, Joint Force Headquarters, at Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City.
As an arthritis sufferer, Willhelm’s exercise regimen includes walking two to three miles every day, lifting light weights, stretching, utilizing the sauna and playing Wii with her four grandkids.
“They beat me, but it’s all fun,” she said.
Through her lifestyle changes, Willhelm drew support from coworkers, classmates and fellow Guardsmen.
Without the support and the opportunity to take the course, Willhelm doesn’t think she could have made the changes to her life.
“Some people can lose weight and some people can’t, until they get the knowledge to do it,” she said.