If there's one thing senior exercise science major, Juan Leon-Torres believes in it is that physical and mental health go hand and hand. He believes this so strongly, that he has begun to implement an Exercise and Wellness Program to help other student veterans like himself as well as to the Kean student body as a whole to come together and exercise more.
Before coming to Kean University, Leon-Torres worked as a personal trainer in Middlesex. It was during this time, he decided to join the Navy and served for four and a half years, before returning to New Jersey to study exercise science at Kean University. Now in his final year of undergrad, Leon-Torres has begun implementing his own Exercise and Wellness Program for student veterans here on campus. The idea for this program came from Leon-Torres' own struggle from the change in lifestyle he experienced after leaving the Navy.
"Since I left the military, it was very hard [for me] because you're always involved in community, always bonding, always playing sports, exercising in the morning and that was a way to distress," said Leon-Torres.
He had become accustomed to a community atmosphere and found that things were different after leaving the Navy. It was not just him who felt this way though. Other student veterans on campus were going through a similar struggle.
"You're coming out from let's say, five, ten years of active [duty], so [the] lifestyle they had before is automatically cut off. That really brings burdens to the veterans, because [they] don't have that family lifestyle... it's pretty hard to cut off from one lifestyle and transition into a different lifestyle," said Leon-Torres.
Leon-Torres wanted to create something that would allow veterans to transition from their military lifestyle into their new everyday lifestyle. For him, the program wasn't just about helping veterans better adjust to their off-duty lives, but it was also about promoting mental and physical health to the Kean community.
"So I figured since the majority of the United States doesn't exercise as much as they should, especially the veterans who are not as active as they were since they were a part of the military, I could create a program where anybody could go. No matter their health status or how long they have been active, I figured I could make a fun way to promote mental and physical health, cause they coincide together..." said. Leon-Torres.
Promoting mental and physical health was something truly important for Leon-Torres. He liked the idea of connecting mental productivity with physical activity.
When asked where he got the idea for this program, Leon-Torres said, "I kept reading articles from the eastern world where there's a Swedish company that actually makes their employees workout during their working hours. By working out for an hour during their lunchtime, it actually promotes their productivity in the long run."
The program is taking a break right now as everyone gets back into their schedule and used to the new semester, but for anyone who finds this program appealing, Leon-Torres wants them to know that they don't need to be a veteran to join and that they should reach out to him for more information.
"Anybody can join, just email me. The more people we have, the more awareness we'll promote around Kean. Mental and physical education goes hand in hand, so the more exercise you do, the better you do in school...The more you're involved in the community, the more you get to know the veterans population."
To join, one can just email Juan Leon-Torres at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Veteran Student's Services office located in the Center for Academic Success (CAS), Room 208 for more information.