Veteran-turned-personal trainer: fighting PTSD with CrossFit

Elizabeth Howe
January 22, 2019 - 1:32 pm

Photo courtesy of Wolf Bane: Personal Trainer

For years after leaving active duty, Wolf Critton played music. 

"The highlight of my time in service was picking up the guitar," Critton said. "But there's obviously more dark moments than there are happy ones. The downside is the person who taught me to play the guitar was killed in action."

Critton served in infantry for ten years, and his transition back to the civilian world was — as it is for many — difficult. 

"It's going from a state of adrenaline and being scared for your life to coming home and finding everything dead in its tracks. You're trying to pick up the pieces. I kind of hid behind music for a while to stay out of my own head," Critton said. "But the whole time — right in the back of my head — I had this anxiety, rage, anger. There was a shadow behind me. You name it, everything that's not good was being pent up and put on the back burner." 

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"To be honest, it's been ten years and it's still really tricky. But I found my niche."

Critton was at the VA for an appointment with a psychiatrist when another veteran in the waiting room asked if he had tried CrossFit. 

"I had never even considered it. He said he found that working out was the best way for him to deal with it," Critton said. "It was my last chance at feeling like I can function as a normal American civilian. Not even as a veteran, just as a person in general. I typed in 'gym nearest me' and found CrossFit New Windsor. Walked in there, and that was it."

Critton explained how CrossFit has helped him to refocus his attention and find a community similar to what he experienced in the military. 

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"You don't have a chance to stop and think about your day or a chance to think of something stressing you out. You don't have a chance to do anything other than workout and you have a whole team cheering you on as you do it. That's basically the military world," Critton said.

So, naturally, Critton wanted to introduce other veterans to the same experience. 

"I've always helped other friends of mine. And then another guy in my unit committed suicide. That was two years ago, but during that time I didn't know what I could do or what advice I could give that would help which brings us to fitness," said Critton. "It felt like the right thing to do. I worked with vets before I even got my certification. Their responses were great — they had something to think about other than whatever was going on in their thoughts. They had a chance to escape and you could see it."

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Now, Critton has started his own personal training business, Wolf Bane, with support from 7Five Clothing

"They're really kickass, and they support other vets," Critton said of the veteran-owned clothing brand. "They've given me an endorsement of their clothing to wear when I work out just because I told them I didn't have the money to buy their clothes."

To other veterans working through transitions, PTSD, or any other difficulty, Critton has one message: 

"It's like the military. Keep moving."

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