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Moving Forward: a gym fit for first responders

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 19:50:22-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — This gym…was not a gym….a few months ago.

“We came in here and it was completely empty. This was a telemarketing center before we came in here. We had to do some minor renovations and then we had to start bringing in some equipment,” said Adam Tripp.

The space was renovated to cater to our local heroes, first responders. They deal with a lot of stress in their jobs and, oftentimes, they can't help but bring that stress home to their spouse and family.

That's why Adam Tripp hopes they can work off some of that stress at the new First Responders Foundation Physical Health Wellness Center in Central Omaha.

“What we're hoping for is they already have that togetherness, as like a unit or firefighters and police, but now we're hoping that you might have a class where you have a firefighter and a policeman that don't know each other and maybe build some stronger bonds in that community throughout,” Tripp said.

Tripp, an army veteran is the founder of a nonprofit called Free Weights and Freedom. He focuses on providing holistic physical and mental wellness for first responders, veterans and their spouses.

KMTV first reported on his grant program to offer free gym memberships to first responders at Omaha-area gyms in October of 2019.

Since then, he's grown his efforts and teamed up with the First Responders Foundation to create this space.

A gym exclusively, not only for active and retired first responders and veterans, but also their spouses and nurses and healthcare workers.

“It is a bit of a niche group, but we that's who we serve and that's kind of what one of our draws to them is that it's a place specifically for them,” said Tripp.

The memberships are at a discounted rate to help alleviate some of the burden that comes with the financial cost of joining a gym.

The space is not only meant to be dedicated to physical wellness but mental health as well. Around the corner of the same building there are mental health counselors available.

“Obviously we're inside of a gym, but with that is also a mental aspect; you feel a lot better about yourself. You're getting yourself in better shape. You're able to perform your job a lot better.

“With that, that's a very physically demanding job as a firefighter or police officer or a paramedic, so they have kind of a civic duty to the community to be in shape. So, now you're feeling a lot better about yourself and then you're able to come in here and not only workout, but then talk to each other after work and that's really what we're hoping to see with the mental health side,” Tripp said.

Council Bluffs firefighter, Patrick O'Brien said, especially with COVID-19, he likes having their own space.

“We're a little bit higher risk, too, because we are around so many COVID patients. So, also public image — you don't want to go to another gym and risk, if I've potentially gotten sick, I don't want to risk and potentially get them all sick,” said O’Brien.

Tripp said by the gym offering 24/7 access he hopes the members don't find any barriers in finding time to move forward, both physically and mentally.

“If we can improve their physical wellness and their mental wellness, they're going to be a lot better off in the long run,” he said. “They're going to have better relationships with their spouses, feel better about themselves, be better at their jobs, and then progress and move forward.”

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