CalFit Success Story: Dennis Kearney Kearney is up at 2:30 a.m.

But unlike most people who would normally try to slide back under the covers, the Marine Corps and Air Force veteran relishes these early morning hours.

“Normally, I wake up at 2:30 or 3 a.m., read, have an hour to myself. And then I’m off to the gym,” the school teacher said.



Kearney enjoys the quiet of the wee hours of the morning. But those early wake-up calls are a result of his chronic insomnia and pain stemming from various injuries over the years. An injury while serving overseas led him to a shoulder replacement, and three previous surgeries — one knee replacement and two other shoulder operations — often keep him from sleeping more than three hours at a time.

“Most nights I only sleep about two to three hours because of the pain,” he says.

But Kearney has found an escape through hard work, turning the obstacles of pain and insomnia into a reason to focus his energy on his health by eating clean and exercising.

“When I’m up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, California Family Fitness has really given me a place to go early in the morning to be with friends and work out,” Kearney says. “I’m one of about 10 people who are the first to arrive every morning. We get together, we socialize and get our workouts in.”

Those workouts, he says, have been critical in him overcoming some of the anxiety he developed after his tours overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of not being able to sleep and turning to drinking to help me sleep better and to help with the pain,” Kearney said. “And when I couldn’t sleep, getting up in the middle of the night and going to the gym helped a lot.

“I enjoy seeing people there, people older than me [and] other disabled veterans at the gym early in the morning. It means a lot to me, too, knowing that I may be helping them make a difference in their lives and getting them off the couch.”

That inspiration is something he also hopes bleeds over into his relationship with his young daughter.

“I try to instill better eating habits and fitness in her,” Kearney said. “And I’ve got her involved with racquetball. She enjoys volleyball, soccer [and] she loves to swim.

“I hope I’m making a difference for her future choices.”