Oak Cliff gym helps veterans ease back into civilian life, ward off PTSD

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DALLAS -- A little garage gym in Oak Cliff is where a lot of hardcore fitness freaks come to sweat.

"We opened in 2013," gym owner Joshua Corona said.

Many who work out at The Sweat Shop, like Corona, are veterans. 

"I did six years in the Navy," said Corona. "Four years active, two years reserve."

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Corona left the Navy in 2007 and wanted a place to help himself and other veterans to keep up healthy habits during the transition back to civilian life.

"When you're in the military, you have structure to your daily schedule from six in the morning until 10 o'clock at night," Corona explained. "So when you get out, you have to develop your own structure."

Corona invested in an idea and opened The Sweat Shop, where he offers boot camp style classes. The high intensity interval training classes include military terminology and familiar drills.

"It's a culture shock," Corona said, describing the culture of The Sweat Shop. "Because we're used to like, 'Come on! Move it! Suck it up! Keep going!' And for someone who's never been in the military it's like, 'Whoa, who are you talking to?!'"

Believe it or not, for students, the classes are quite therapeutic.

"It helps when you have military friends or you come into that military gym-type environment because you just build that camaraderie back again," Eugene Mendez, who served in the U.S. Marines for eight years, said.

"They're helping each other, they're helping themselves," Dr. Geetha Shivakumar, psychiatrist at the Veterans Affairs of North Texas Healthcare System, said.

She studies how exercise affects female veterans with symptoms of depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"[The] vast majority of the patients who completed the exercise did show a significant improvement in their PTSD symptoms," Dr. Shivakumar said about her study results.

A boost in mood, instant physical gains, and the nostalgia of brother -- or sister -- hood. It's exactly the type of giving back that Corona had in mind.

"You know that person next to you, even though you've never met them before, they have your back. You can talk to them whenever you need to talk to them," he said.

For more information on The Sweat Shop, go here. Other veteran-owned Dallas include the Adaptive Training Foundation and Tough Fitness.

OTHER HELPFUL LINKS:

VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

VA MOVE Program 

Veterans Health Library

Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events

Military Medicine: Exercise for PTSD in Women Veterans: A proof-of-concept study