As RiseVT expands across the state, it’s essential to review impacts that the wellness initiative has made on the communities of Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

The RiseVT Health Coaching program facilitates healthy, sustainable behavior change by challenging clients to identify and transform their goals into action.

“I feel that the position of a health coach is imperative to the overall success of our community,” says Brian Clukey, certified Health Coach for RiseVT. “At its foundation, health coaching focuses on the first level of the Social-Ecological Model which is the individual.”

Offered as a free service to the community, Brian began coaching clients through the RiseVT comprehensive wellness program with its commencement, nearly three years ago.

“The connections, relationships and accountability I am able to provide to a wide array of businesses, schools and municipalities allows for the conversation to change; the culture to change,” he says. “We’re here to help ensure that all individuals have the healthiest life possible.”

While wellness is often defined as the degree to which one feels positive and enthusiastic about life, perception varies from person to person.

“One of the challenges is getting people to realize what’s on the healthy side of life,” Brian says, “Being unwell versus well.  It’s difficult for people to understand how they’ll feel once they do the work and are on the healthy side.”

As a health coach, Brian says he wants to help others feel empowered to take control of their own health and wellness. “I want to break those barriers down.”

To date, Brian works with organizations under the small-business-umbrella, those with less than 50-employees.  He has coached 487 individuals within 17 organizations across Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

“Of those 17 businesses, 100-percent of them have had a decrease in their health risk factors,” he says. Whether it’s by managing cholesterol levels or increasing activity, evidence proves that wellness is indeed, on the rise.


“One-on-one care is vital,” says Brian, “as all goals are client-driven and should be tailored appropriately to meet their needs.”  Helping his clients set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Oriented) goals, is key.

“During initial talks with a client, they might mention 30 different goals they’d like to work on, which can be very overwhelming for them. I can help them focus on just one of those items, making it seem more attainable.”

Reducing weekly meat intake; going to bed one hour earlier; and increasing hydration levels are examples of SMART goals – small changes that make an impact.

“Most clients know when they’re going to meet with me next; and that I’ll be checking to see if they’re meeting goals and making lifestyle changes,” he says. “Their sense of accountability is strong.”  Health assessments and biometric screenings aside, Brian’s feedback often helps clients to move forward through their own resistance or ambivalence.

Evidence-based data indicates that 83% of Brian’s clients who had set goals, have met their goals.  “That means they’ve reached their individually perceived goals,” he says, referring to a client’s desire to change his lifestyle and identify it himself; rather than having it come from the health coach.

Of the clients that Brian identified at risk for Prehypertension Stage I (elevated Blood Pressure), 38% have decreased back into a healthy range. In turn, lowering one’s blood pressure can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

Thus far, Brian says four clients have lost around 40-pounds each. “Those are multifaceted issues, he says, “achieved through real effort and lifestyle changes.”

Approximately 32% of all SMART goals set with Brian are focused on stress-reduction; while 58% are activity and exercise oriented and the other 10% are miscellanous

“Movement is vital, as it increases the body’s resilience,” he says. In addition to Health Coaching, Brian is a certified Personal Trainer, and suggests incorporating simple movement and activity into your routine, as often as possible.

“Start with a morning stretch. It doesn’t have to be a full routine; simply touch the sky and touch your toes. This helps the body reduce muscle tension and can help with coordination.”

He also suggests standing on one leg, even while waiting in line at the café, to improve core strength and balance.

“Sometimes it’s the smallest changes that matter the most,” says Brian. “This is a revelation for many individuals.”

Brian believes RiseVT continues to benefit the community, at both the micro and macro levels, through collaboration and connecting available resources. As a Health Coach, Brian has referred 36 clients to NMC’s tobacco cessation specialist, Chari Anderson. He may refer a client for pain management or to a Diabetes education course; and always enquires about client’s annual medical appointments.

“It’s also a multi-generational wellness initiative,” Brian says. “Families, parents and kids, are being supported at school; in the workplace; within their municipalities. Everyone’s got to be a part of it, to make it work.”

For Brian, the reward is simply witnessing the improved lifestyles of his clients, and the impact that their choices bring about.

“Through the individuals and organizations that I am authentically working with, change will begin to proliferate throughout the rest of the community until the healthiest choice truly is the easiest choice.”


Making the Healthiest Choice, the Easiest Choice

“Activity and movement are vital, as they increase the body’s resiliency,” says Brian Clukey, CHWC, Health Coach at RiseVT. He recommends we move as often as possible. “It’s often the smallest things that matter the most. People take that for granted.”Brian recommends:

  • Start with a morning stretch. Reach for the sky; touch your toes. This helps the body reduce muscle tension and can help with coordination.
  • Stand on one leg, switching between the two; even while waiting in long lines. This will help improve core strength and balance.

RiseVT Health Coaching Evidence-Based Statistics (2015-2018)

  • RiseVT Health Coach Brian Clukey currently works with 17 organizations under the small-business-umbrella
  • 100% of those 17 businesses have had a decrease in their overall health risk factors (BMI/BP/Cholesterol)
  • 58% of all SMART Goals set with RiseVT are activity/exercised oriented – while there is (32%) focused on stress-reduction, and the remaining 10% miscellaneous.
  • 487 clients have received one-on-one health coaching during the program lifetime
  • 83% of clients who set goals, have met their individually perceived goals as of 2018
  • RiseVT has sent 36 tobacco cessation referrals to NMC’s Smoking cessation specialist, Chari Anderson
  • 4 clients have reduced and kept their weight down by 40-pounds
  • 38% of clients recognized at risk for Prehypertension Stage I (elevated Blood Pressure), have decreased back into a healthy range. Healthy PB levels can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure
  • 24% of men and women identified with risks of borderline or high cholesterol levels have decreased their levels. Of those identified at risk:
    • 17% of MEN have increased their HDL (good cholesterol)
    • 13% of WOMEN have increased their HDL

For more information or to get involved please log into our wellness portal at create an account and get started embracing a healthy lifestyle.

By, Sarah Parsons, freelance writer