After eight years in the army, Kevin Presher was adjusting to life outside of war.
“You are so used to being in a group and it’s just like they’re all your brothers and sisters.”
Feelings of loneliness and being judged set in.
“You know you come back here and all your friends are everywhere else in the world and you’re by yourself you don’t have anybody.”
To help he and his fellow soldiers, he opened a new fitness facility in Jonesboro called Underground Army Gym.
“we are not gonna judge you”, said Presher.
The gym has a military feel and an atmosphere where members can be themselves.
“That’s the thing is that you don’t have to feel like you’re being judged, you don’t have to feel like you’re by yourself”, said Presher.
Whether it is support by spotting a heavy set or offering a listening ear.
Underground Army Gym is giving its members something more than gains.
It is giving a positive outlet that allows veterans to channel their energy, relieve stress, talk about any issues they are facing.
Gym goer and veteran Jonathan Long says it is place that allows him to open up, “We can all come in, talk to each other because a lot of veterans we don’t speak to any other people because they don’t understand what we are talking about. So with a small environment like this we can get to know one another and discuss what we did and what we wish we could’ve done”.
Other gym goer, John Henry Johnson says the environment makes it easy to connect, “It’s a good environment. Everybody gets along great. I feel like it’s a family already”.
Although Underground Army Gym does give a lot of benefits for veterans. Presher wants to emphasize that this gym is open for everyone despite military affiliation.
“You know I want non-veterans to come as well so that they can you know let people know that they’re not by themselves. Even though you’re used to being around all military people all the time with this you’ll know that there is other people that support you not just military people that can be your family too”, said Presher.
Presher is working with post traumatic stress disorder groups and military recruiters on partnerships to help veterans and future military recruits.
Presher’s wife, Izzy Presher helped do a lot of the work with getting the gym up and running and says all the hard work is worth it to see his dream come true. “His dream was to always own a gym and have a place where he could build a community, bring people together. So to see that come together for him has been really rewarding for me because I know he loves what he does and I know how important that is to love what you do”, said Mrs. Presher.
Underground Army Gym is more than a fitness outlet; Presher says it’s therapeutic, “it’s like iron therapy”.
If you want to check the gym out, it is located at 2606 East Matthews Avenue in Jonesboro.
There are discount memberships for all veterans and first responders.