My name is Zach Guza. I am a Certified Personal Trainer, founder of Black Dog Fitness and Parkinson's Exercise Specialist.
I am not your typical Personal Trainer. In my "other lives" I always liked to workout but it was only part of my life.
I just didn't realize how important it was.
I do not live to workout. I workout to live.
I learned the hard way that exercise is absolutely essential for mental and physical health. Without exercise, I almost destroyed my family, my career and came very close to destroying myself. Exercise is part of my daily therapy to keep the Black Dog on a leash.
I founded Black Dog Fitness to help other people with Depression and Anxiety use physical fitness to support their mental health.
It works. I am living proof.
After flying helicopters with the Air Force for 9 years we got out started a family and I began clawing up the corporate ladder. I was making great money but I was miserable. I didn’t think that I had the time to exercise - too busy, too important.
Weekends were the worst. I was supposed to be out enjoying my family and time off, but I was exhausted, angry, flabby, withdrawn, drinking and resentful. I was destroying myself and my family.
When I finally got professional help, I was diagnosed with Depression. Not just “grumpy" or "feeling blue" but the deep, dark, "why-am-I-alive?" kind of depression. One of the first things my psychiatrist told me to start exercising again.
Then I put it all together: exercise is therapy.
Regular, intense exercise was and still is absolutely essential to balancing the demands of raising strong and active boys, working a high-stress job and managing a mental illness.
I started working out again and I got control of my life.
This picture from when I climbed Half Dome in Yosemite Park. When we got to the top, I asked a Park Ranger, "Do you get a lot of suicides?" "Nope. Usually by the time they make it up here, they have changed their mind." A good walk can save your life.
When I realized that I was fighting my own Black Dog, I started to think about what helped and what hurt. Fitness was my escape and therapy. It always helped me feel better. Years of research has shown the validity of what I was doing. The chemical and psychological effects of exercise and fitness (confidence, interaction, accomplishment and even sunlight) are essential to gaining the upper hand on depression and taming The Black Dog.
I help other people who were also fighting depression and anxiety.
I have found a way out of the darkness through fitness.
It works. I am living proof.
We are in good company: Mark Twain, Harrison Ford, Winston Churchill, Dolly Parton and Hundreds of millions more.
- 1 in 4 people will have an episode of depression before the age of 24.
-20 Million people in the US
-350 Million globally, have depression.
- The #1 cause of suicide is depression.
-Every day an average of 132 people kill themselves
-More than 48,000 people killed themselves in 2018
-EVERY DAY, an average of 22 veterans and active duty kill themselves.
In October of 2012, the World Health Organization put out a video called, "I had a black dog, his name was depression." It is a video version of the 2005 book I Had a Black Dog, by Mathew Johnstone (www.mathewjohnstone.com).
The instant I saw this video, I realized that what I had been experiencing for most of my life was Depression.