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Scott Herman suffered burns and PTSD as a soldier but has made a new start as a personal trainer at Magna Gym in Minneapolis.

CARLOS GONZALEZ , Star Tribune

Scott Herman taught a boot camp fitness class Magna Gym in Minneapolis.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

How I Got This Body: Long-distance recovery

  • Article by: Sheila Mulrooney Eldred
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • November 3, 2013 - 1:42 PM

Scott Herman, 40, Richfield, Military veteran, personal trainer

 

 

DODGING RAINDROPS “When I graduated high school, I was 6-1 and 125 to 130 pounds. I was tired of the skinny guy jokes. So when I joined the Navy in 1991, I just found someone in the gym who was bigger than me and we worked out together. Lifting weights was all I did; I didn’t want to run. But I started to realize that cardio might be important when my roommate beat me in a race — and he smoked.”

 

IN THE LINE OF DUTY “I worked in the boiler rooms as a machinist’s mate. It was 120 degrees in there. In July 1993 I was on my way to bed when I saw a friend who needed help. I was working on a steam pipe and hot water came gushing out. I had second- and third-degree burns from my waist to my knees. I spent three months on bed rest, and I had eight skin graft surgeries. I lost 55 pounds in the hospital. My original [military] contract was for four years. When I first joined, I was going to stay forever. I could have gotten a medical discharge, but I wanted an honorable discharge so I went back. I had to learn how to walk again. First I had a wheelchair, then a walker and then a cane. I quit working out other than physical therapy, and I became a drunk mess. I’d put all that time and effort into working out and it was gone in an instant. I’d never been grumpy or mean before, but afterward I was depressed.”

 

LOOKING FOR A PURPOSE “From 1998 until 2004 I was constantly drunk and depressed. I did manage to work out, but it was never consistent. Somehow during this time I found my wife, Hannah, and got married in 2004. From 2004 to 2006 I was pretty happy running marathons and triathlons. I got my certification to be a [personal] trainer in 2007, but then I got lost in depression again. I struggled keeping jobs, going through, I’d say, 20 jobs in five years.”

 

AN EARLY MINIMALIST “Running’s been the most consistent thing that’s kept me out of trouble. In 1998, one of my high school buddies was running around Lake Nokomis and he asked me to go with him. He was my free shrink, so I went. I did one lap, and then two laps … and ever since then — since I realized I could make it — I’ve been running. I started running barefoot in 1999 after watching a movie about Steve Prefontaine and seeing how tough he was. Maybe that’s the crazy part of me. I ran barefoot until my feet bled so that in case I lost my shoes, I would be ready for it.”

 

WHAT’S NORMAL? “In 2011 I kind of wigged out. I [had symptoms of] bipolar disorder and PTSD. I went to a four-week, outpatient group therapy. I realized that there really is no normal. And I learned a lot there that I can use with my clients [as a personal trainer], like having five people to call at any time if I fall off the wagon. My wife, my psychiatrist and my mom are always on my list. It’s part of my wellness recovery action plan, but it can also be part of a wellness workout plan. If you don’t feel like working out, you can call someone on your list.”

 

DREAM JOB “In 2012 I had eight different jobs, but I knew I wanted to get back into personal training. I found Magna, a small gym downtown, on Craigslist, which is where I have been for all of 2013 and plan on staying at for years to come. It is nice to have a job where I get to help people live better lives. One of my clients is a blind woman; I ran 12 miles of the Twin Cities marathon with her.”

 

the next chapter I already have the title for the book I’m going to write someday: ‘From Scars to Pistons.’ ”



 

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