De'Andre Wells basks in the spotlight of leading a spin class. At Brick Bodies Padonia, his hour long sessions are always packed. He says the low lights, pounding music and constant motion give him new life.
"What really attracted me to it is that I can be a DJ and a fitness coach," Wells says.
After four years in the Middle East with the 5th Special Forces group, his life wasn't always so positive. Like so many others who serve in combat, Wells was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"You come out of combat, you're a different person," Wells says. "I went through the experience myself. I lived it and I'm still living it."
Over time, Wells found out on his own that intense exercise helped ease his symptoms; a discovery he chose to share with others. Through help from the VA, Wells started a business: American Group Fitness.
"Our mission really is to provide a service to veterans who need the support that they are not getting," he says.
Now, AGX Fitness is partnering with an indoor cycling center that takes spinning a little more seriously. STM Cycling, based in Baltimore's Pigtown neighborhood, offers a highly scientific program that helps cyclists grow by tracking and monitoring three personal statistics: Heart Rate, Power and Rate of Perceived Exertion. Hitting the goals requires constant mental focus throughout the workout, a practice that Wells says helps veterans keep their mind off of negative thoughts.
"This is the same culture we came from right?" Wells asks, "One of the demands of the military is that you have to be physically and mentally strong."
Under the partnership, a number of bikes will always be available for veterans in STM's workout center free of charge. Wells and AGX are planning more partnerships and resources to battle the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress.
"This is a tool that I've chosen and I know a lot of other veterans will choose to help them fight each day," Wells said.
Follow this link to find out more: https://www.deandrewells.com/american-group-fitness-agx-llc