When U.S. Air Force Veteran Kevin Chagnon retired at age 62, he was overweight and decided it was time to do something about it. So, he set up a gym in his garage, joined the VA Butler MOVE! Program and started teaching martial arts again.

Chagnon (pictured above, center) started karate training when he was 14 years old. He received his first-degree black belt at age 17. He trained on and off with different instructors and then started teaching, even opening his own school. Later, with family and work commitments, he was only able to practice every once in a while. After retiring, he was ready to get back into it.

First up, losing weight. Chagnon set up a gym in his garage again and lost 85 pounds with support from VA Butler’s MOVE program. MOVE! is a weight management program that focuses on health and wellness through healthy eating, physical activity, and behavior change.

MOVE! can help Veterans lose weight, keep it off and improve their overall health. VA Butler Healthcare has a dedicated MOVE! Team that assists Veterans.Chagnon and four Veterans getting in shape with karate exercises

After losing the weight, Chagnon was ready to start teaching martial arts again. He volunteers to teach weekly classes in VA Butler’s Wellness Center. The classes are designed for older Veterans and participants are encouraged to workout at their own pace.

“The class takes place in a non-competitive, relaxed environment,” said Chagnon. “The class allows us to get together to work out and have fun. And gradually over time get healthier and feel better. Martial arts training can help people in so many ways, and I just love teaching it.”


About the author: Amanda Kurtz is the public affairs specialist at Butler VA medical center.

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