June 07, 2023

Veterans find haven at Hanson Fitness

While spending time hospitalized in Minnesota for post-traumatic stress disorder, Ryan Rinehart turned to working out as a way to calm his mind.

When he came back to Creston six months ago, the Army veteran wanted to continue his fitness journey.

His first stop was to Hanson Fitness on Taylor Street. “I went in and I talked with Tyler (Hanson), and he let me work out for free for the first month,” Rinehart said. “Then I bought a membership.”

Since beginning his treatment in Minnesota, Rinehart has lost 90 pounds, and said it feels good to feel like himself again.

“It’s such a good environment,” he said. “I get more therapy being there working out with some of the guys there than my actual treatment. It’s been great.”

Owners Tyler and Tori Hanson said they are honored to have veterans use their facilities. “Exercising for your mental health is extremely rewarding. In my opinion, it’s the best therapy for mental health; it’s better than any prescription drug any doctor can give you,” Tyler said. “Exercising should be 100% be part of anyone’s mental health therapy. When working out, your body feels so much better and rejuvenated. There is not a time when you are in a bad mood while working out. Once you do that first rep or that first second of cardio, you are locked in and it right away puts you in an awesome mood.”

Rinehart isn’t the only local Veteran to recognize the gym’s positive culture.

“Hanson Fitness is the perfect place to go if you need to get stuff off your mind,” Creston native Nicholas Perry said. “It’s where I go to escape ‘the real world.’”

A long-time member, Perry has been going to Hanson’s since they first opened in their previous location on Sumner. His time in the Marine Corps took him away from Creston and the gym, but when he returned, it was as if he’d never left.

“When I came back to Iowa, Hanson’s welcomed me back, and Tyler never stops motivating me to become a better version of myself,” Perry said. “I miss the Marine Corps every day, and my head is filled with old memories - some good, some bad. I can’t think of a better way to help with that than sweating it out, getting all the anger, frustration and feelings of regret out during a good workout.”

Veteran Affairs researchers determined exercise has promise for reducing the severity of PTSD symptoms in veterans.

“The physical health benefits of exercise are well known, and there is a growing body of research showing how exercise can also support mental health, making it an ideal candidate for further investigation as a complementary treatment,” clinical psycologist Dr. Daniel Reis said. “If exercise does help veterans with PTSD, it could make a big difference in how we treat the disorder by giving Veterans and their providers another option to use, either by itself or in combination with other treatments.”

Even seeing the American flag flying in the gym gives Rinehart a sense of respect. “It’s a patriotic place,” he said. “You walk in, everyone there is respectful. They treat you well because you’re a veteran.”

The 24-hour gym offers a variety of options including personal training, contests and training programs.

“Tori and myself welcome any veteran, first responders or anyone battling mental health to come and just give fitness a try, or come talk to one of us to get you started and on the right path with your fitness or nutrition goals,” Tyler said.

Hanson Fitness offers a discounted rate for active-duty military and veterans.

“If you are a Veteran that is struggling, or anyone that’s struggling for that matter, my advice is to get into Hanson Fitness and start building a better version of yourself physically and mentally,” Perry said.

Cheyenne Roche


Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.