WESTBOROUGH, Mass. - A local program aimed at helping military veterans stay active and get in better shape has been growing in popularity after nearly being canceled due to a lack of attendance.

What You Need To Know

  • The Warrior Wellness program is a biweekly workout program for veterans held at the Boroughs Branch YMCA in Westborough
  • It is run by two veterans who wanted to create a community and help fellow local vets stay in shape

  • The program had initially almost been canceled due to low attendance, but has since rebounded

  • Warrior Wellness takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m.

Twice a week, more than a dozen veterans typically head to the Boroughs Family Branch YMCA in Westborough for Warrior Wellness.

Adam Costello, who served in the Army from 2005 to 2012, has been working with fellow veteran and YMCA personal trainer Richard Hildereth to get the program going strong.

“I didn’t realize how easy it was to get out of shape, and the more I went to the VA and different veterans’ places, the more I realized that was common among many veterans,” Costello said.

Shortly after returning, Costello began working out regularly at the Boroughs YMCA and noticed a flier for a veterans’ exercise group. He learned it was likely to be canceled due to lack of interest in the community, and used his connections with the disability services group Easter Seals and MassVeteran to get some more momentum behind the effort.

“I think one of the fun parts of Warrior Wellness is that the first few months, it would just be Richard and I sitting down and talking,” Costello said. “But we knew consistency and time would build that audience.”

Hildereth served in the Army from 1987 to 1991, and was in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell. He takes a relaxed approach to leading Warrior Wellness, creating an environment where people can feel comfortable.

The program has grown popular among Vietnam veterans in particular.

“I’ve definitely seen all types,” Hildereth said. “People who have been working out regularly, people who haven’t, who need to get back in shape. It’s just good to encourage them to keep their butts moving consistently throughout life. Even if you’re going through a tough time, not feeling well, even if light intensity is all you can do, just keep yourself moving consistently over time.”

Hildereth said the key is more about establishing a routine than starting an intense training regimen.

“The group now is starting to bond, we’re all getting to know each other,” Hildereth said. “I still have to constantly crack jokes to get them to talk a little bit more. Not take things so seriously, just have fun, be consistent, that’s all it is. Build the community.”

With each biweekly workout, veterans are reporting increased strength, flexibility, endurance and balance. But Costello said the sense of community is what really keeps them coming back.

“In my opinion, it’s critical to a good life,” Costello said. “If you have people in unique circumstances, military service is one of those, you really lean on the people around you to understand, learn from and navigate the civilian world.”

Warrior Wellness takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. For more information, visit the MassVeteran website.