Fitness for Veterans

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RENO, Nev. -- Fitness is no longer a limiting factor for disabled veterans and disabled members of the armed forces. The City of Reno hosts a program called 'Fit but Not Forgotten,' which helps them work out no matter what physical limitations they might face.

Mike Bente never thought he could walk again. After getting injured in the line of duty in Afghanistan five years ago, he became a paraplegic.

"You realize that you went from being this one way to another way so now I have to change out my whole life, how I'm gonna do things," he said. "It was an emotional roller coaster."

It was a ride that took him to a deep low until doctors performed a delicate surgery, putting metal discs in his back. Two years later, he was back on his feet.

"I have a new understanding on how precious it is to be able to stand or be able to do things, but on the same sense I have a whole new understanding for those in chairs and can still do so many things," Bente said.

Walking and balancing were some things mike had to re-learn, but fitness was always his top priority.

"Being in the military that's your life. You wake up at o'dark 30 to go run 10 mi or hike a mountain or P.T.; that's how you're brought up, that's what's trained inside of you and if you take that away, you'll feel like you're missing something," Bente said.

To fill the void, Bente joined 'Fit but Not Forgotten' to improve his health not only physically, but also mentally. He says that health is something every veteran needs.

"I mean I can't do most things but I can do some things. "You know I start to feel a little tinge to the pain and you put it off and carry on," he said. "Even though you have a disability, you can still do things."

Each class is an hour long and is tailored to each veteran's needs and capabilities. There are only about seven to eight people in each class so the participants get their own one-on-one time with the instructor. Stephano Miraglia, fitness instructor, says each class is different.

"I don't know until they come in what type of disabilities and what kind their limitations are," Miraglia says. "The most rewarding part is finding the exercises they can do with their disabilities and them realizing that they can do something."

At the gym, veterans both young and old share a common mission and gain the support they want and need.

"It's like any military guy you always have to have that mission and this is their mission: get out there and be active," Bente said.

Participants will be eligible for a free year-long gym membership. To sign up for 'Fit but Not Forgotten," contact April Wolfe, City of Reno’s Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, at 775-333-7765 or via e-mail at