Trainer focuses on total body fitness
Sullivan Barrack\'s Fitness Center Coordinator and Fitness Facility Manager, Jessie Dayton helps Sgt. Alejandra Johnson complete a set of repetitions during her work-out Oct.25 in Mannheim, Germany. Dayton has made it his mission to help community members improve their overall fitness.

MANNHEIM, Germany - It's been more than a decade since Jessie Dayton hung up his combat boots, yet he's still fighting on the front lines, only this time around the conflict is a little more personal.

Dayton is the fitness coordinator and fitness facility manager at Sullivan Fitness Center, and for the past four years he's been lifting, squatting, sweating and smiling alongside the Soldiers and families of U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim.

The former supply specialist made it his mission to help the community maximize overall fitness one rep at a time.

Dayton admits his own four years of military service gave him a unique perspective and created a special place in his heart for Soldiers. He was stationed in Hanau from 1996 until 2000.
"I love the Soldiers, and I think that people under-appreciate and underestimate them, especially the E-1 and E-4," Dayton said.
"These Soldiers have been at war for the past seven or eight years. A lot of them are tired and they're stressed and they need as much wellness and relaxation as they can possibly get. I wanted to find a way to do more for them," he said.

Dayton began to incorporate wellness principles, such as breathing and relaxation techniques, into his classes and workouts.

He also made it a point to consistently encourage and inspire his trainees through the power of positive thinking.
"One thing I like to tell the people in my class is that 'a problem is a solution waiting to happen.' We bring stress upon ourselves and stress is one of the top killers of human beings. Physical fitness is great, but you also have to have mental and emotional harmony to complete yourself."

Dayton is also a strong advocate of spiritual wellness.

He said his own personal faith and his study of American author and physician Dr. Andrew Weil have helped to him to remain balanced and focused on helping others.

Weil is best known for his work in the field of integrative medicine, which incorporates mental, spiritual and community wellness with personal health.

"When you realize that you don't make yourself breathe but yet you breathe 20,000 times a day, it builds an appreciation and an awareness of life and it makes you want to take care of yourself and take care of the other individuals who are breathing that same breath," Dayton said.

Jennifer Toyco has trained with Dayton for about a year to get back into shape to rejoin the Army."He's just a really good person that cares a lot about his job and is really willing to help people out a lot and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be doing it," said Toyco.
"It's more of like a stress reliever for me, too, and it teaches me how to relax and tone myself up better. It makes me feel better about myself. He's a good motivator," she added.

Sgt. Taylor Ambos from U.S. Army Correctional Facility-Europe recently attended Dayton's weekly cardio-circuit training class for the first time after hearing about it from another Soldier.
"My abs and my legs hurt, but I felt good afterwards," Ambos said. "It will definitely keep you in shape. This is a whole body everything that will keep you sweating and keep you toned. It's a good workout. He's a cool guy who's really motivated and lets you know he's there to support you."

In addition to his management duties, Dayton teaches a free cardio-circuit training class three times a week and even works out with some of his customers in his spare time.

His smiling face is often the first one many patrons see as they sleepily stumble into the gym for an early morning workout.

"The best part about my job is working with people and seeing them get results and not just physically," Dayton said.
"I enjoy seeing them just being more positive, taking care of family situations, getting promoted or watching a family member come home from Iraq and Afghanistan," Dayton said.
"It's all goes back to who I actually work for - Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation," he said.
"This community is a team and when we all can be fit it builds our morale, and when our morale is higher than our welfare will automatically be higher because we will know how to take care of ourselves and we'll be happier. And the way to do that is through recreation," he added.

Dayton revealed he had mixed feelings when he initially heard the Mannheim community would be closing.
"I was little skeptical because we've heard it so many times before. The dates have changed constantly. In 2006 they told us the gym would close in 2010," he said.

Whatever the exact date, Dayton said he plans to be one of the last ones out to help lock the doors and cut off the lights.

He would like to stay as long as the fitness center remains open.

"We have to take better care of our Soldiers - , physically, mentally and emotionally. That's why the fitness center is so important," he said.

Page last updated Thu October 28th, 2010 at 04:02