Avera Medical MInute: Breaking Barriers To Fitness - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical MInute: Breaking Barriers To Fitness

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Jack Gill working out at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center. Nothing holds him back. Jack Gill working out at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center. Nothing holds him back.

For some of us, the biggest obstacle to working out is ourselves. But for some people a real physical disability may hinder their ability to be active. We watched in awe as a Disabled Vietnam Vet from Sioux Falls breaks through all the barriers to fitness.


Jack Gill came back from Vietnam in 1969 after stepping on a landmine that blew off his legs.  He was 19 and didn't think he would make it back at all, but he did. He spent a year recovering in an Army Hospital in Denver. He was fitted with his first prosthetic legs back then. He later gave them up and went to a wheelchair.


Jack says, "The day I stepped on a landmine, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon."


40 years later he has become a fixture at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center in Sioux Falls. Three years ago the VA  fitted him with new high tech prosthetic legs. The left one has hydraulics.  


Jack tells us, "The right one is below the knee. The left one is above the knee. The left one is called a C-Leg.It has microprocessors in it and it is programmed to make adjustments to my height, weight and activity."


Before he could get the new limbs, he had to take off some weight. He lost 60 pounds and has kept it off for 3 years by using weight resistance training and swimming. (He keeps a wheelchair at the fitness center because he can't take his legs in the pool.)


Jack says, "I guess for myself, I didn't want to go through all the suffering. I reached a point in my life where I wanted to lose the weight and get back on my legs. So I made the choice to eat proper foods in a proper diet, to exercise and to be active on these legs again. Not only is it good for me physically, it's good for my psyche.


Personal Trainer Karri Stearns says, "He's doing himself a tremendous service. We have seen him for so many years in a wheelchair so he is a real inspiration to us all."


Stearns says it's important for Jack to work on his leg muscles because they are his base of stabilization.


Stearns says, "For those people who think I can't do this. I can't come to a fitness center because I need to lose weight before I come here. Uh, uh. No, everyone needs to look at Jack and say I can do this."


One of Jacks favorite sayings is, "Excuses are like noses. Everyone's got one and they all smell." He has no time for excuses. He's too busy staying in shape.


Jack works out 4 days a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. Fitness trainers suggest meeting with an expert before you start any work out routine, especially if you do have a disability.


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