Faces of CAP: A winding path to wellness

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CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan hiking

Editor’s note: CAP employees have unique backgrounds and experiences, shaping us as an organization and reflecting the diverse communities we serve. March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize and highlight the contributions of  women in the US.

Michelle Rohan joined CAP in 2022, bringing her knowledge and passion for wellness and helping others.

Some of the best journeys are those that take a less-than-direct path. For CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan, the same can be said about her journey to wellness. As a child, Rohan wanted to be an anesthesiologist or marine biologist. So, although she didn’t spend her youth dreaming of a career in wellness, she did focus on living well.

Rohan grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico where she spent her time camping, hiking, mountain biking and skiing. She spent hundreds of hours exploring the Jemez Mountains, becoming familiar with the mountain roads, streams and waterfalls.

“I was always outside doing something,” Rohan said. “Even as a young child, there wasn’t anything inside for me to do.”

Rohan wasn’t one to stand still. Her dad took her under his wing and shared his life skills with her – she worked on cars, rewired outlets and helped with various other home remodel projects. In high school, she ran track, excelling at sprints, hurdles, high jump, long jump. She had plans to compete in the Olympics.

CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan hiking
CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan hiking
CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan in the snow

“I have always had a plan and a backup plan, so changing direction was nothing new for me,” said Rohan.

She knew her passion was helping others, so she became a certified nursing assistant (CNA) as a first step to becoming a nurse. She was working in a long-term care center in New Mexico when a massive wildfire forced them to evacuate. After moving the residents twice in 24 hours, Rohan found herself literally standing on a corner in Albuquerque, exhausted, wondering what her next move was.

“I had planned on moving to Phoenix in July and this happened in May, so I just decided to grab a flight and move to Phoenix now,” said Rohan.

Once in Phoenix, she went to school to become an x-ray technician and medical assistant. While working in urgent care, she had a realization.

“I realized I really didn’t like treating sick people,” said Rohan. “I knew that if people would take care of themselves, they wouldn’t be in that position.”

Her direction changed. She went back to school to become a licensed massage therapist and received some education as a personal trainer. She got married and had her son, Lane. She moved back to New Mexico and opened a spa. Things were going well – until the economy turned. Rohan closed the spa and found herself again turning to her backup plan. She juggled for a few months, working in a casino bar and at the local ski resort, both as a lift operator and an instructor.  Ultimately, she decided to return to Phoenix.

She joined a gym – she’d always been a self-described a gym rat – and her whole world changed.

“I got a personal trainer, I’m not even sure why, and he was great,” said Rohan. “That made me realize that I had a lot of medical knowledge and the foundation to be an excellent trainer.”

She became a certified personal trainer and jumped in. She’d found a way to help others and share her passion for living well. Rohan continued to learn, earning her Bachelor of Science in health and wellness. She became a certified swim instructor and lifeguard. She moved on, working as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for the City of Peoria and then as a physical education teacher for Villa Montessori.

CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan jet skiing
CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan on a hot air balloon
CAP Wellness Administrator Michelle Rohan biking

Rohan continued to live her active life and when she had the opportunity to become part of the “balloon chase crew” for a hot air balloon company, she took it!

“From an early age, I’d always been fascinated with hot air balloons and being part of the chase crew was literally my dream job,” said Rohan.

It’s not as easy as it may seem. Once the balloons have taken off, she literally “chases” the balloons as they fly over the city, navigating desert roads to safely locate the land location. Her van is equipped with a multitude of MacGyver-like items, so she is able to handle anything – and she does.

Despite the fact she was doing her dream job chasing balloons, she wanted to return to wellness and when she saw the wellness administrator position at CAP open she knew it was an excellent opportunity and threw her hat in the ring. She knew she was ready – she had earned her masters degree and had experience in nearly everything wellness. Most importantly, she had a “wellness” perspective on life.

“I have had so many experiences and paths in my life that I think I can relate well to people,” said Rohan. “At CAP I have the opportunity to work with people one-on-one, educate them with fundamental wellness knowledge and help them apply it in all aspects of their life and I hope that can impact them in a positive way and even change the trajectory of their life.”

She now leads the wellness program for CAP, which has been recognized by The Phoenix Business Journal as one of the “Valley’s Healthiest Employers” for five years. She has added new offerings, including teaching on-site fitness classes and leading aging parents’ discussion groups. She encourages employees to embrace a holistic approach to wellness, to focus on seven dimensions of wellness – physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, social and occupational.

Although Rohan has had a winding path to wellness, she has learned that wellness is more than body image or what you eat … that eating well and working out alone will not make you happy … and that you never know what is right around the corner.

“In some respects, my life has been a journey without a set destination,” said Rohan. “I just go where the wind takes me and do what feels right at the time.”

Now that winding road has taken her to a new place of balance in her life. She has a fulfilling job at CAP that allows her to share her wellness expertise while still having time to spend enjoying the outdoors… not to mention some weekends chasing balloons.

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