We hear from our customers time and time again — riding ElliptiGO bikes is so much more than just a workout. It can clear the mind and help relieve stress. It helps to build new friendships and offers a community of support. One of our customers is going the distance to help showcase the power of movement and its positive impact on mental health. May is Mental Health Month, and we are shining a spotlight on mental health advocate and endurance athlete Coach Jeffrey Jackson (JJ,) our Rider of the Month.
Coach JJ was working in the tech industry when he realized his life had taken a turn. He was 65 lbs overweight, a smoker, a drinker and addicted to work. He was putting in 100 hour work weeks and was desperate to find balance. He sought out the help of a Certified Life Coach. He found that getting out to exercise and move was helping to positively change his life, and running was his favorite activity to turn to. He lost over 70lbs in 8 months, was eating better, sleeping better and was far less stressed.
Coach JJ says that it’s simply scientific: “When we move, we can stimulate the release of brain-derived neuropathic factor, which helps connect the brain and body to new healthy neurons. Basically, we create new and positive neuron pathways. Aerobic exercise also helps us sleep better, another important factor when dealing with stress and anxiety. Lastly, when we exercise our brain enhances the production of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine; all related to mood improvement.”
He became a Certified Life Coach himself and began a non-profit aimed at helping people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. His organization, depression2extinction (d2e,) offers anyone suffering from depression or anxiety a place to connect and begin the holistic approach to dealing with these debilitating disorders.
“So many members of our community have shared their stories. One, in particular, stands out. We have a member of our community that was in a really dark place…suicidal. This person reached out to connect with me hours before they had planned to take their own life. Man, that stopped my heart.”
Coach JJ continued, “We talked for several hours, did a beREAL Check In and eventually got the National Suicide Hotline on with us to help. It was very scary as it was unfolding, but since that incident, this person has been able to get additional help including on-going support for our amazing community at d2e.”
In an effort to raise awareness for mental health and the power of d2e, Coach JJ is on a quest to run a 50k in all 50 states in 50 days. For an incredible feat like this, lots of training and cross-training is ahead. Coach JJ is using ElliptiGO bikes as a part of his build-up for this effort.
“If I can be honest, I found ElliptiGO bikes by necessity. I was training for my first Ultra Marathon, the HURT 100. During training, I suffered a tibial stress fracture and was unable to run (for what ended up being most of my training cycle.) I thought my race was over,” said Coach JJ. “Then I did a YouTube search on “running without running” (or something like that) and found a video of Bryce on a talk show. I immediately called my coach and asked what he knew about the GO.”
Coach JJ continued, “I called Bryan and Bryce and shared my story. It was amazing. Within a week they had a bike available in Austin and, while still in a compression boot, I was running again.”
He says that ElliptiGO bikes have been a great addition to his training: “With the amount of mileage I need to run each week (100-150 mile per week) my ElliptiGO bike offers me the benefit of true running form on a bike. Also, I can get the same benefits in less time. It’s truly a win-win for my training for the Ultra 50 Expedition.”
The Ultra 50 Expedition is focused on raising awareness and funding for d2e’s HEAL Kids Program launching in Fall 2019. In partnership with Dr. Oz’s foundation and HealthCorps, d2e will be rolling out this new program to approximately 50 schools they are currently serving. The total cost to support a HEAL Kids implementation is about $7,500 (about $10 per student per year) That includes on-site training, a book, and journal for each student, and on-going support.
With the focus on schools, Coach JJ has decided to run all 50 ultras around a school track. “I will run approximately 140 laps to complete the Ultra distance,” he said. “It would be great if anyone in the ElliptiGO community has a school in mind in their home state, or even if they just come out and run/walk with me. I would love that.”
We asked Coach JJ if he could share some ways that you can help to #EndTheStigma around mental health in their home, their community, and the world. He offered this advice: “Be open to learning the importance of implementing an emotional awareness practice into their lives. I encourage people to be gentle with themselves, as it often allows us to be gentle with others.”
For those who may be struggling, he advises to seek help from qualified professionals and, then, to get moving.
“In my experience, movement is the absolute easiest way to help your emotional state,” he said. “When I started out, I could not even run one mile. In fact, it took me several attempts (and failures) before I found that ‘runners high’ people talk about. Let me tell you, it was better than any drug or alcohol provided. For me, it was being willing to fail. Failure is often also our biggest fear. Embrace the suck.”
We are in awe of all that Coach JJ has done to improve his own life and the lives of others. Thank you for inspiring us and we’re proud to be on your Ultra 50 Expedition journey with you.