When you first meet Melissa Ellefson, her smile radiates from the next room. Fit and personable, the 41-year-old South Dakota native exudes what it is to be healthy. Her constant energy, passion and gratitude for every aspect of her life can turn even the biggest couch potato towards a leafy salad.
“She’s been just a fantastic fit,” says POET Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lautt. “Melissa has this passion for wellness, but also people in general. She’s a positive person and tremendously endearing.”
And did I mention she leads one heck of a High Intensity Interval Training Class?
As the first Director of Wellness for POET, Ellefson’s dedication is focused on team member overall health. She not only wants the team to be physically healthy – but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy, too.
A graduate of the University of South Dakota with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Sciences Ellefson came to POET in July.
“It was really a God thing how I ended up working at POET,” she says.
Ellefson has spent most of her life in the field of fitness, nutrition and coaching. She has always valued wellness, but wellness took a different meaning on New Year’s Eve in 2009. Her husband, Matt, was diagnosed with advanced lung
cancer. He was told that without treatment he would have approximately eight months to live. With aggressive treatment, Matt faced a five year survival rate of less than five percent.
Remember, this was almost exactly five years ago.
The Ellefsons, who have five children, chose to fight Matt’s cancer aggressively. He spent five months participating in a clinical trial in Houston, TX to treat his body – and continued to lean on family and his faith to nurture his soul. With
a few bumps in the road and three recurrences, Matt blew that five percent chance out of the water this New Year’s Eve.
So when Ellefson talks about gratitude being an important component of wellness, she means it.
“That really changed everything for us, we don’t look at life the same – and we never will,” she says. “Every single day is to be celebrated.”
“I’ve shared this with many of my fellow POET team members,” Ellefson continues. “When I tell them I want for you to live a full and healthy life, I mean it from the depths of my soul. My wish for them is to experience a life of abundance and vitality and not wait until they experience a health crisis of their own.”
And through her emails and tips on fitness, nutrition and spiritual well-being, there isn’t a better person to help them achieve this goal.