Disabled Vet Finds Strength Outdoors

After a stroke robbed him of his sight and independence, Vietnam veteran Michael Perryman's health began to deteriorate. He was losing weight and strength quickly, and was always tired. That is, until his sister learned about the new Fitness Zone® installation at her neighborhood park in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“I immediately thought of Michael and how wonderful it would be for him to be outdoors and to exercise again,” recalls Sue Deveney, Michael’s sister.

Living on a fixed income, Michael can’t afford a gym membership. And his visual impairment prevents him from taking long walks or playing a round of golf like he used to do. Without regular exercise, a critical component of stroke recovery, Michael’s health was not improving.

Since discovering the Fitness Zone installation, Sue and Michael walk the short distance from Michael’s house to Gladden Park three times a week for his workout on the nine pieces of strength-training and cardio equipment, including an overhead press, a cross-country ski station, and chest and leg presses.

Free and open to the public

“Anyone can use our Fitness Zones,” explains William Lorenzen, Fitness Zone project manager with The Trust for Public Land. “You don't need to be in shape, have disposable income, or a high level of skill to work out here. It's free and open to the public.”

Michael may have lost the ability to do many of his favorite activities, but he hasn't lost his sunny outlook. Sue says Michael has never once complained about his situation. He's completely focused on his recovery.

“I’ve become very dependent on my sister since the stroke,” says Michael. “My goal is to get back into shape and the Fitness Zone is a big help.”

While Michael regains his health at Gladden Park, we've set our eyes on Miami for the next series of Fitness Zone installations. There are currently 29 Trust for Public Land Fitness Zones exercise areas in Los Angeles, two in St. Petersburg, and dozens more planned.

MetLife is a proud supporter of the St. Petersburg Fitness Zone installations.