JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders like PTSD, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the US.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 8 million people in the United States live with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was a kid,” said Keshaunda Ellison, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Ellison, 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “So I know how it can affect your body both mentally and physically.”
Exercise is known to improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. That’s exactly what Ellison plans to use to help service members and their families combat anxiety, PTSD and related disorders.
Ellison is currently the only certified personal trainer under contract with JBLM. She said helping her clients helps her too.
“I’ve been under contract with JBLM for about four months now,” she said. “But I’ve had my own personal training business for two years now.”
Allison, who is the oldest of six children, was raised by her maternal grandmother in Norfolk, Virginia.
“Growing up, my mom was in and out of prison, and my father passed away when I was 11,” she said. “Trying to deal with his loss and my mom’s insecurities, I was upset all the time.”
After being diagnosed with anxiety, Ellison knew she had to do something to manage her stress levels.
“For me, it was a realization that I needed something to improve myself holistically,” Ellison said.
Ellison also knew she wanted to do something to help others facing the same conditions.
“After graduating with a degree in therapeutic recreation, I was a physical education teacher for many years at West Hope High School in Rayford, North Carolina,” Ellison said. “That’s where I got my passion for helping others through fitness.”
Ellison remembers the relationships she built with poor students at that high-poverty school. Many students confided in Ellison about problems at home, bullying and even more personal things like lack of food or clothing, all while practicing.
“That’s when I knew this was bigger than just working out,” Ellison said. “My class was like a stress reliever, not only for the kids, but for me as well.”
Alison found that she could relate so much to her students because she had lived through poverty, being bullied and having no one to talk to about it.
“I still have anxiety, don’t get me wrong,” Ellison said. “But when I exercise, it relaxes me. I can be in the gym for hours. I love everything about exercise.”
As a military spouse, she wanted to develop something that could travel with her as she moved around to support her husband’s military career. It was this realization that inspired Ellison to pursue personal training for all ages.
Ellison received her license from the International Sports Science Association in 2020, shortly before moving to JBLM that September.
“I wasn’t prepared for the ‘winter blues,’ as people call it, and how much the weather here can affect you,” Ellison said. the thing that helped me was exercise.”
After the mix-up, Ellison found out that she was on the list to be a personal trainer for JBLM.
“I initially applied to be a group fitness instructor for one of the courses offered on base,” Ellison said. “The lady who took my information thought I was applying to be a personal trainer. When I got my official contract, the title was personal trainer.”
Ellison said she’s grateful for the mix-up, because it’s more in line with her credentials and what she wanted to do long-term.
“In the future, I want to be an occupational therapist,” she said. “The body is my passion. Whole body. Sometimes we don’t understand that everything in our body is connected. How we think affects how we move. How we move affects how we look and how we look affects how we feel.”
Ellison urges everyone to be more active in their daily lives. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, even a brisk 15- to 20-minute walk can provide several hours of stress relief.
“This is bigger than me,” Ellison said. “If I can help or even encourage one person through fitness to feel and look better, then it can transform and manifest in every area of their life.”
|JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA, USA
this paper, JBLM Army Spouse Fights PTSD With Physical Fitnessby Talysa Lloyd McCallidentified by DVIDSmust comply with the restrictions shown at https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.