Dawson Walton, a personal fitness trainer at the Greater Rumford Community Center in Rumford, likes to inspire people in his community and beyond to be disciplined and maintain good health by exercising. Before the days of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, he also taught a youth martial arts class at the GRCC — just one of the ways he tries to give back to the Rumford community.

Dawson Walton is a person fitness trainer at the Greater Community Center in Rumford. Submitted photo.

Name: Dawson Walton

Age: 48

Town: Rumford

Occupation: Personal fitness trainer

How many years have you been working as a personal fitness trainer at the Greater Rumford Community Center? What kinds of training programs and activities do you and the GRCC offer? I have been working at the GRCC gym since January of 2013. I offer overall comprehensive strength and fitness training, including, but not limited to, barbells, dumbbell, kettlebells and bodyweight training, as well as a boot camp-style conditioning class known as Body Recon. And I do cardio boxing training with individuals and small groups (per appointment).

How has your work as a personal fitness trainer at the GRCC been affected by the pandemic? Are there many exercise classes going on currently and what kinds of training are you doing? Of course with the pandemic, we have come across some hurdles to overcome, with limited capacity of people in the gym, as well as limited time people could spend in the gym (an hour) and limited hours the gym could be open (5 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays).

I am working with clients one on one, and small groups (strength and fitness training) as well as martial arts and boxing, and I run a boot camp-style class that’s short on time but still brings awesome results.

Do you offer any training for youth in the area and do you think that working with younger people is important? Pre-COVID I was offering a youth martial arts class, however that has been put on hold per COVID (regulations). I do offer martial arts training. I feel working with local youth is imperative because physical fitness is a great vehicle for one to make their life better, no matter what your age is.

Also, being a positive influence on these kids is the best way I can think of to give back to the community that I live in and the best way to make my little corner of the world a better place to live.

You had a stroke in August 2019. How did it affect you and how did you recover from it? Yes, as many know, I suffered a stroke about a year and a half ago. I was in three hospitals, Rumford, Central Maine in Lewiston and Maine Med in Portland. While in CMMC I suffered a series of seizures and was Lifeflighted to Maine Med, where I was in a coma for three days. I was in the hospital(s) for two weeks so it was a pretty severe stroke, with potential for harsh deficits or even death.

At each hospital that I was in, all the medical staff — doctors, nurses, etc. — were confident that I would make a full recovery owing to the fact that I trained as I do. Of course, in the aftermath in was a hard road back to getting where I want to be, and am so very grateful to my lovely fiancee Julia Larissa Brown, who was by my side every step of the way even though she was busy with pursuit of a master’s degree, and took care of me once I was released from the hospital and was my moral support. Thank you, sweetheart, I am forever grateful.

Once cleared by the doc, I was eager to get back to work with my clients, and back to training. Of course, I had regressed a lot physically, even to the point where a few sets of bodyweight squats and pushups would fatigue me and I would have to go back home and sleep.

It took me several months to get back to where I was hitting what I would consider good training sessions consistently. Today I am training hard and working with my clients, who inspire me to keep getting after it every day, with no issues at all. I want to say that the support shown by everyone since the stroke is overwhelming and very humbling, and that I am proud and grateful to live in the River Valley.

You have a quote “Discipline equals freedom” on your Facebook page. How does this statement speak to you and why? So many people rely on motivation to get started training, and then find out that motivation is a feeling and that it is temporary and feelings cannot be relied upon. Whereas discipline is the single greatest attribute one can rely on to make their lives better and become the person they want to be. (Walton recommends the book “Discipline Equals Freedom” by Jocko Willink.)

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