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Anytime Fitness program helps military vets readjust

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By Kayla Vaughn

Anytime Fitness has joined with the national Lift for the 22 organization to offer free one-year gym memberships to military veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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The program’s goal is to fight suicide among veterans by bringing them together while also increasing their health and wellness. 

Karen Phillips, manager of the Anytime Fitness gym on the Lancaster bypass, said one of her relatives suffered from PTSD, and the program is “just something that touched my heart.”

She took the idea to Darcy Bly, the gym owner, and she said she loved the idea. So far, three veterans, all Lancaster High School graduates, have joined the program.

Michael Boone served in the Army for six years before moving back home to Lancaster. He says his transition back into a “normal” life has been hard.

His job while deployed in Afghanistan consisted of “route clearance,” which means his team would go into a dangerous area and sweep for mines and IEDs so others could pass through safely.

“Sometimes we would find them the hard way,” Boone said. “Every minute of every day was stressful, and coming back was a really difficult transition.” 

After suffering from PTSD, Boone was a little nervous about joining the program. “I was never a big gym person,” he said. “My counselor at the VA said it would be a good resource to have.”

Boone’s exercise of choice is running. He says it is “a way to get away from my thoughts.” Because of what the 24/7 gym offers, he is able to go anytime he feels stressed or just needs some time to himself. 

“It helps a lot and creates a new routine for me,” he said.

After going to the gym and inquiring about the program, Boone met Charles Quick, another veteran who was in the program. “He told me about the application process,” Boone said.

Quick was in the Navy for two years and now visits Anytime Fitness in Lancaster four or five times a week. Like Boone, Quick says the program has been a big help for him.

Another veteran involved in the Lift for the 22 program is Paul Geiter, who was deployed twice to Afghanistan and remains in the Army National Guard.

Geiter said his wife, Holly, found a link for the Lift for the 22 program on Facebook and talked him into checking it out.

“This is my first gym membership,” he said. “I’ll probably keep going even after it’s over.”

One of those deployments to Afghanistan was with Boone. Geiter agrees that it was difficult to adjust when coming back home. He says the gym “helps veterans reintegrate after coming home from a war-ridden country.”

Though Boone grew up in Lancaster, he believes he has found a new home in Honduras after doing volunteer work there. He left on Tuesday to begin a new job teaching English as a foreign language to residents of Honduras.

Phillips says two more veterans have applied to join the Anytime Fitness program, and the company is still accepting applications.

For more details on the program or to apply, visit www.liftforthe22.org or stop by Anytime Fitness, 1133 S.C. 9 Bypass W., Lancaster.

 

Follow Kayla Vaughn on Twitter @kaybvaughn or contact her at (803) 283-1155.