McAfee Secure sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams
Share Print

You have not viewed any products recently.




How Kettlebells Helped Me Restore My Mental & Physical Health

William Sturgeon when promoted to RKC Team Leader

"I believe my life’s purpose is to help teach people who’ve been hurt by life’s adversities how to adapt the skills and tools needed to restore their strength to live a healthier life."

My name is William, and I am a survivor of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). There are so many other brave people who have overcome some horrifying events. My goal is to help them know that they are not broken and are capable of fully recovering from life’s adversities.

The intent of this article is to help spread awareness of how important our mental health is. Addiction and other mental illnesses can lead to unhealthy behaviors that are masked cries for help. There’s no shame in asking for help or being a survivor of life’s adversities. In fact, it’s a symbol of courage & strength because you continued to live, even after you thought you wouldn’t.

I’ve suffered with unhealthy behaviors all my life. I’m alive and healthy today and would like to help bring awareness to mental illness caused by trauma. Before I share my story, I would like to begin with some information to help you have a better understanding of ACEs.

Causes of ACEs:
  • Abuse: physical, emotional, sexual
  • Neglect: physical, emotional
  • Household Dysfunction: mental illness, incarcerated relative, mother treated violently, substance abuse, divorce, poverty
  • Other: natural disasters, acts of racism, systemic oppression, sudden death of a loved one, anything else that causes a person to feel trauma
ACEs can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as:
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug use
  • Missed work
  • Unhealthy eating patterns
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Unhealthy sexual behaviors
  • Gambling
ACEs are caused when you experience trauma which then damages the brain’s prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and the brainstem. This damage can lead to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which can have some very harmful/deadly consequences if untreated.

After experiencing trauma, your brain begins to restructure itself beginning with changing your beliefs. Beliefs, which are stored in your subconscious mind, are used to create your thoughts. Your thoughts control your feelings, and your feelings control your emotions. Lastly, your emotions influence how you behave based on how you feel. Your behaviors are controlled by your conscious mind, but only if you’re aware of your subconscious beliefs.

For example if you were raised in a household where a parent struggled with alcoholism, your subconscious mind will think that when someone drinks, their goal is to get drunk. Your conscious mind will say that’s unhealthy and problematic, let’s not do that. But we’re all humans driven by our emotions and our logic is in the passenger seat trying to help navigate.

My Story

The root causes to my ACEs are from:
  • Years of physical & emotional childhood abuse
  • Several funerals of close friends or classmates
  • Living in poverty
  • Racism
  • Institutional oppression
  • Generational trauma
  • Multiple incarcerations of friends and family
  • Countless violent experiences
  • Two suicide attempts
  • Two natural disasters
  • One overdose
I’m not alone though, there are plenty of other survivors who have faced far worse situations than I have. I just would like to share my story to help bring awareness to those who may feel that they’re alone or broken. You’re not, you’re a human who’s been hurt and has made some mistakes, but you deserve to get help and to live a healthy life.

William Sturgeon At 15My substance abuse began at age 14 when I started drinking, being sexually active, using drugs, getting into fights, graffitiing, and not caring for my health. At age 15, I was placed in a restorative justice program after I admitted to a vandalism charge. Circle sentencing was intended as an alternative to probation to help rehabilitate first-time offenders. Unfortunately, for me it was an experience like probation with well-intended, but uninformed people.

At 17, I completed my circle sentence, but without learning any of the essential skills I needed to cope with my trauma and mental health. I went back to my old survival skills and by the time I was 18 I had two failed attempts at suicide. My second attempt landed me in the ER after finishing a bottle of Ambien. That was my wakeup call to quit abusing drugs, otherwise I was going to lose my life. I made the choice to give up drugs and to stick with only drinking. At the time I thought I was making a healthy choice for myself, but I was wrong.

My drinking would only get worse after high school. I moved out of my hometown and got married by the time I was 20. Because my job at the time offered a discount at the local gym, I had started going to the gym more often. Fitness became very important to me, and I loved how it was making me feel. I wanted to learn more about it so I could become healthier and help other people live healthier lives. By age 22, I enrolled in the Health & Fitness program at the Alexandria Technical Community College (ATCC).

In the very first semester, a local coach taught our class about kettlebells. It was completely new to me, and I was completely fascinated with it.

First meeting John and Andrea Du CaneThen, at 23, I attended the legendary RKC weekend in St. Paul at Dayton’s Bluff Recreation Center led by Master RKC Andrea Du Cane. I was welcomed with open arms and fully accepted by everyone there. Those were the beginning steps to becoming a real coach. That weekend changed my life because it started my career, something I never knew I could have.

During my second year at ATCC, I helped create an articulate agreement with Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). This allowed students graduating from the Health & Fitness program of ATCC to transfer to SMSU with full credits to complete a Bachelor’s Degree of Exercise Science. I would be one of the first graduates of ATCC to attend SMSU after establishing the articulate agreement. At this point in my life, I felt on top of the world because for the first time, I felt that I had purpose in my life. Yet at the same time, I was still struggling with my addiction to alcohol.

I was 24 years old when I was arrested for a DUI after a night of drinking with some friends at a local bar. The cold steel from the handcuffs pressed tightly against my wrists in the back of the cop car. This was a familiar feeling I knew too well, but this time it was different. I was feeling defeated, embarrassed, scared, and lost. The world was falling apart in front of me, and I felt that I was going to lose everything I had worked for. I knew then that I needed to make a change. After that day I made the healthiest choice I could make: I gave up drinking.

Being an RKC Instructor was one of the biggest inspirations I had at the time to help motivate me to become a healthier person. This was my saving grace because it was the catalyst for change that I needed to become the best version of myself. I saw the potential that I could reach with my career in the fitness industry and didn’t want to lose that because of drinking.

The RKC community is filled with great positive role models that demonstrate healthy behaviors and who share what they learn with others. This community was what I needed to help establish the healthy behaviors that I desperately needed. Becoming an RKC instructor opened so many doors for me that changed my life. Most importantly, the RKC community showed me that no matter who you’ve been, you’re accepted and deserve being part of a community that helps people improve their health.

William Sturgeon receving Chamber of Commerce first dollar award
William Sturgeon at his first gym location, receiving the Chamber of Commerce First Dollar Award

When I was 25 years old, without a business plan or loan, I used a personal loan and a credit card to open my gym Restored Strength. I had help from other RKC gym owners who answered my questions. The helped teach me how to start my own business. Because of the RKC, I was able to establish a niche for functional kettlebell training in my community. I had the support of the RKC community behind me that shared the same values of caring for their own health and the health of others.

William with business partner SaaraI’m proud to share what I have achieved after I quit drinking:
  • Getting therapy & medication for my ADHD & CPTSD which gave me the tools and skills to become healthier
  • Self-love and acceptance
  • Peace and the power to create a future
  • Three college degrees
  • Over a dozen certifications
  • Promoted to RKC Team Leader
  • Became a certified massage therapist
  • Changed the lives of people in my community
  • Assisted at many RKC workshops, one of them being in New York City
  • Written dozens of articles for Dragon Door
  • Gained an amazing business partner
  • Became an advocate for mental and physical health
  • Earned my spot as a local expert in corrective/functional exercise

We’re all capable adapting and creating change in our lives by choosing to do the difficult things in life. You’re the catalyst for change in your life and it begins by asking for help. Allow someone to help set an example of how to create change in your life, no matter where you’ve been.

As someone who has struggled with many addictions and adversities, I can say that the biggest thing that has helped me heal, was having someone show me compassion--by helping me get the tools and skills I needed to heal. I felt accepted for who I was without any judgement of who I’ve been, and that’s what everyone wants to feel: accepted and loved.

William Sturgeon Assisting at an RKC Workshop with Andrea Du Cane

Thank you to John and Andrea Du Cane for your continuous support and belief in me over the past seven years and for inviting me to become a Team Leader for the RKC Community, where everyone is accepted.


William Sturgeon RKC Team Leader 150William Sturgeon, RKC Team Leader, RKC II trains clients at his gym, Restored Strength. Contact him through his website at or follow him on Facebook: