SAN ANTONIO – The building in the 3300 block of Talley Road in West San Antonio may look like a typical gym with regular people working out, but it is far from it.
The Warrior Fitness Center provides group training to veterans and the people in the community who have severe limitations and injuries. It is a veteran-owned business and offers a place where people can get stronger, both inside and out.
Marco Fernandez's dream of a long military career was cut short by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.
"I woke up to a big truck full of fire, everything was torn to bits and I was trying to piece together what was going on," Fernandez said.
Fernandez lost part of his leg and retired from service. After a year of rehab, he had spiraled into a dark place.
"You're looking down on the bed and the sheets are over your feet and you see the first bump and you're wondering about the second bump that's supposed to be there," Fernandez said. "I'd never go outside. I was angry a lot and that's when I started turning towards fitness."
Fortunately, Fernandez met Tre Tremillo, a 12-year Marine.
"I ended up training him for three to four months and he ended up getting stronger and he said to me, 'Hey, why don't you consider training more veterans since you helped me out, you know you could do a lot of good for the community,'" Tremillo said.
Together the pair went on to form the Warrior Fitness Center, and it now helps fellow veterans like Marlene Rodriguez.
"On my last tour I was hit by an IED and it caused a severe traumatic brain injury which then brought on a seizure disorder," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez drives about an hour every day, and said the fitness classes helped change her life.
"You're leg-less, you have one arm, you have something going on, nobody's gonna judge you and they are all gonna tell you that you can do it or you can get better at it and there's nothing better than that," Rodriguez said.
The workouts can be exhausting, and at any moment one might think about quitting but many veterans have an emotional motivation to help keep them going.
"I work out for Jones because he can't do this or he never will get to do it. I do it for him and that's my inspiration, that's what motivates me," Rodriguez said.
Jones was an 18-year-old soldier in Rodriguez's unit who died, a name that is now tattooed on her leg.
Rodriguez's experience at Warrior Fitness Center has helped her set a new goal -- to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, and maybe even Mount Everest.
"I want to take Jones to the top of the world. That's my goal," Rodriguez said.