fitness

Dan Newberry, a Veteran Reaching Out to Other Veterans

At the young age of 19, Dan Newberry enlisted in the U.S. Army. By the time he turned 28, he served two tours in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart, but in 2012, he was medically discharged. For nine years, Newberry lived in a world of structure and discipline. Everything he needed was provided for him, from the clothes he wore every day to the doctor who checked his health. But when he was suddenly let go, Newberry had to learn how to do everything for himself and had little resources to help him with the transition.

“When I got out, I had a really hard time, primarily because I didn’t know how to integrate myself back into the community,” he says. More than fulfilling daily needs, the former soldier was struggling to make sense of the traumatic events he experienced in the army and unknowingly dealing with PTSD.

No matter how hard he tried, Newberry couldn’t find a way to fit in. Potential employers were telling him he wasn’t worth their time and people he opened up to about his past didn’t know how to respond. When he would talk about losing a close friend in an explosion, people would respond with a story about their grandfather passing. He felt overwhelmingly lonely and didn’t want to ask for help because he saw it as a sign of weakness. Struggling with depression and unemployment, Newberry attempted suicide in 2015. “I decided I needed a way out.”

After being at the lowest place in his life, Newberry started looking for things that made him feel better about himself, and what he found was physical fitness. A regular workout routine reminded him of the military and the bond he and his fellow servicemen would share every morning. He began going to the gym again but felt that the sense of community was missing.

So, in 2017, Newberry began teaching a free fitness class for veterans that focused on comradery and acceptance. He wanted to create a safe space for people dealing with trauma to have a conversation. He personally understood that traumatic experiences are “wounds that don’t really heal” and sought to bring people with those struggles together. “I don’t want people to feel like I did. I wish that, when I got out of the military, there would have been something like that for me.”

The class, called 22 Fitness, is hosted at FUEL Fitness in Oak Creek every Sunday at 11 a.m. Newberry structures the class so that people of any fitness level can participate. During the class, he will often share one of his difficult experiences, opening the floor for anyone that wants to talk. 

Since losing his way after being in the military, Newberry is now driven to help veterans find the recourses they need to acclimate back into society. The last few years taught him that he can’t always solve problems on his own. In his words, “the most courageous thing someone can do is reach out for help, and the most selfless thing someone can do is listen.”

Learn more at 22fitnesscommunity.com.

Read the article on the Shepherd Express.

Flying Squirrel Pilates

Jaime Hayden is an outgoing and engaging pilates instructor that runs a small studio in the Third Ward called Flying Squirrel Pilates. Jaime is a busy woman, teaching a wide variety of classes along with running the business on her own.  She first became certified in pilates 12 years ago while working a surprising mix of other jobs.  Originally from Houston Texas, Jaime moved to Milwaukee to be closer to family.  She started her business seven years ago out of her home with a little support from her dad and it has been growing ever since.  She now has bragging rights for winning the best Milwaukee pilates studio in 2013, 2014 and 2016 according to Milwaukee A List.

When describing her path of how she got here, Jaime described her love of athletics and history as a softball player and gymnast.  Later in life, she had two knee surgeries and consequently found pilates.  She quickly fell in love with the new sport and pursued the idea as a career.   Pilates was "designed to make your body feel good doing everything else you do," she explains.  "It is meant to strengthen your core and keep your vertebrae decompressed."

Jaime sees pilates not just as a sport, but as a healing practice.  She began telling me about her very first client, Terri, who has taken her classes in every location she's taught for 7 years now.  The two met at the occupational therapy clinic where Jamie was working at the time. Terri has severe rheumatoid arthritis and used to have a very limited range of motion, but has been taking Jaime's classes twice a week ever since she started the business. Now Terri "can do planks better than anyone. What it's done for her rheumatoid arthritis is amazing," says Jaime with a proud smile on her face.

If you talk to Jaime for more than 30 seconds, you can tell that she is passionate about her business and her clients. "My clients are amazing, they've become super good friends," she mentions and adds that she would much rather be doing this than anything else.  So talk to her yourself or better yet, take a pilates class.

You can view her website at http://fspilates.wixsite.com/flyingsquirrel.