Dean

Dean, a veteran himself and now a Physical Development Coach, helps others find their strength after injury. He explains how he helped Mark Tonner, who lost the use of his arm in an explosion, find his.

“When I first met Mark, we hit it off straight away. We’d both been injured in Afghanistan and we’d both found exercise as an outlet for some of the trauma we’d been through, so we really understood each another.

“But I could see that Mark tended to overtrain and push himself too hard. The gym was his haven, a place where he could channel some of his frustration and anger. He’d never let losing the use of an arm hold him back, but I wanted to show him how to get the most out of using the gym equipment, without overtraining and possibly doing more damage.  

“I’m a qualified Physical Development Coach and because I’m also a veteran myself, I know how to work with any limitations caused by physical injury. I’ve also worked with a lot of veterans who, like Mark, try to push themselves too hard because they use exercise as an outlet for frustration.

“I helped Mark learn how to modify his exercises and target certain muscle groups from different angles. I also taught him lifting techniques to help him with his balance and introduced him to cycling one-handed on an adapted bike.”

“And I was able to offer him a shoulder to cry on too. I can really empathise with everything he’s been through – like Mark I was injured in an explosion in Afghanistan. I understand what it’s like to have your life turned upside down in such a traumatic way and like Mark, sport and exercise have played such a big role in helping me rebuild my life.

“Over time, Mark really started to reap the benefits of exercise for mindfulness, and he became interested in body building and strength training too. To help him move forward, Help for Heroes funded a personal training course and now he runs his own successful personal training business. I know Mark gets so much out of helping others reach their potential and he’s even worked with the Prince’s Trust to inspire unemployed young people through exercise.

“I’m so proud Mark has found strength through sport to overcome his daily challenges. He doesn’t let his negative past experiences stop him - instead he uses them to grow and achieve. He’s a fighter and he never gives up.”

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