By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 8, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 8, 2014) -- Shaun McElderry is a man who some might find intimidating -- muscular, tall, knowledgeable and a veteran. But the former air traffic controller just wants to complete his life's calling -- helping others any way he can.
A certified personal trainer, spin instructor and group fitness instructor, McElderry knows his way around a gym, from free weights to a treadmill, but the Army retiree of 21 years said that his passion for fitness began when he joined the military.
"Fitness is important for me because I am a strong advocate that a healthy body makes for a happy life. If you live a healthy life the benefits are great," he said. "I plan on living a long life, and to not just live, but live well."
McElderry is currently in graduate school for clinical mental health. His ultimate goal is to be a spiritual life coach. He believes it is great for a fitness trainer to have some type of background in psychology.
"You find yourself counseling your clients. With this type of established relationship, stuff just comes out, and many trainers wind up helping the client work through Family and life issues through fitness," he said. "You can't ignore your client's issues because it affects their body in so many ways."
McElderry's love is helping people make the changes they want to see in their lives. Counseling people in all aspects of life, from at the gym to at church, fulfills him.
"My fitness background, along with my counseling and psychology knowledge, folds together like a cord," he said. "I think I can help a person holistically when they come to me. I can help them with their fitness goals while at the same time help them to love their body, detach from their love of food, and find out what might be emotionally holding them back or what might be a positive motivator to keep them going."
Personal trainers often turn into coaches, but McElderry said that's all part of a day's hard work.
"We have to encourage our clients to keep going, to keep it up at home, to push them harder and further, to encourage them to change their eating habits, to tell them to give it more time to see a significant change and benefit," he said.
People need to care about themselves because they only have one life to live, and McElderry believes that even though some people have the motivation to keep themselves healthy, they don't know how to get started or what to do.
"Having people like myself on the staff helps people who want to work out, work out properly. Being in a gym is a good thing, but doing the right exercise the wrong way can hurt a person," he said. "Fitness staff help to reduce fitness-related injuries, which slow down the Army's mission."
Helping out the Army's overall mission by keeping Soldiers and their Families safely in shape is McElderry's mission.
"The more fit a Soldier is, the better they are suited for their job, but we also help out the entire Army Family," he said. "When Family members are fit, they feel better at home and the dynamics are healthier. Fitness is one of the greatest stress relievers; it helps regulate the mind and the entire body system.
"It enhances everyone's quality of life in many ways," he added. "Proper fitness can save careers and marriages, and we are happy to help out with that."
The personal trainers at both gyms give their clients advice on what to do between the sessions, so clients see maximum benefits.
"We don't just care about our clients when they see us for that hour," said the certified instructor. "Our goal is not just to train a person, our goal is to teach them how to train themselves or work themselves out."
He is a firm believer that it doesn't matter how old or how young, how out of shape or what injuries a person might be dealing with -- there is no excuse and there is no condition that he cannot navigate to get a person into a healthier body.
"I would love to help enhance the quality of life of anyone that comes through those doors," he said. "Myself and the other trainers have the knowledge and the skills to help clients get over the issues that are holding them back, whether it be personal motivation or an addiction to food."
McElderry wants to encourage everyone to take that first step towards a healthier life by setting up an appointment with a personal trainer today.
For more information on scheduling an appointment, call 255-3794 or 255-2296.