Go Magazine – Strength for the Body, Mind and Soul
Jerry Diday swam five laps in the swimming pool. Next, he dove to the bottom of the 10-foot-deep end and propelled himself back to the surface 10 times. After that, he swam carrying a 5-lbs weight in his left hand and pulled himself through the water with his right arm while keeping his head above water.
At 71, Jerry wasn’t sure he could swim even one lap in the pool, make it through one dive or perform one stroke carrying that weight. Moreover, Jerry is diabetic and suffers with chronic back pain after a surgery to remove arthritis from his spinal column.
When he was invited to a three-hour VitalityPro health camp, he decided to accept, even though he did not know what to expect.
“I was curious,” said Jerry. “It was a challenge, and I felt there was a possibility it could help my health.” He has gone through two very different camps in the last six months and feels more equipped to handle health trails.
The invitation came from his neighbor, Dr. Frank Merritt, an emergency room physician at Bay Medical Center and founder of VitalityPro–a company that focuses on research and development of modalities, techniques and systems for improving human health and performance.
He is passionate about healthcare and helping people experience whole wellness–physical, mental and spiritual.
“We’re going out and trying to do what God wants us to do,” Frank said of himself and his wife, Regina, a physical therapist who helps run VitalityPro and monitors campers. “We want success, but we want it to be on God’s terms”
Through his work with VitalityPro, Frank meets people from all over who are church goers, but he meets just as many who are either unchurched, “kind of churched” or used to be churched. His goal is to be an example of Christ’s love no matter what category they fit.
“We have to recognize that there are people that have never been to church. If we can invite them to a camp, we can meet them where they are,” he said. “Jesus met people where they are.”
That’s where he met Brandon Rager, former defensive end for San Diego State University. Brandon was working with a high school football program when Frank offered some new ideas he knew would boost player performance. Brandon was skeptical at first, but the more he got to know Frank, and work out with him, the more he realized Frank was right.
“I have a passion for strength and newer techniques that push the envelope,” he said. Playing college ball, Brandon’s training centered on high speed. “You had to be fast. It was all about how big and how fast you could get.” When he first started working out with Frank, he was surprised that by the end he was worn out, and Frank, who is about 10 years his senior, was still going strong. After practicing breathing and different movement that build strength and flexibility, Brandon feels like he’s in better shape now than when he played college ball from 2000-2003.
“It’s not just a workout. It’s not just a diet. It’s a complete lifestyle,” Brandon said. “Every step I take, there’s a purpose.”
Brandon is a trainer with VitalityPro, which use scientifically sequenced combinations of land, sand, pool, and ocean training as well as recovery modalities. Participants learn how to bring more oxygen to the muscles and organs while increasing stamina and flexibility. The goal is to create complete wellness of the mind, body and soul.
“Jesus was a victor, not a victim. Was He ever a victim on the cross? No, He cared for people even until the moment that He died,” said Frank, referring to the thieves being crucified beside Him as well as witnesses on the ground.
Frank has a history of training athletes. He has worked with professional surfers, football players, racecar drivers and ironman contestants. He practices what he teaches others in his own life.
He enjoys the science of how God created man and has engaged in a lifelong study of that creation. “The who is God and why is love,” he said. “Whether God broiled, baked or grilled me, He made me. Science is a good enterprise attempting to find out how.”
The idea for VitalityPro was a collaboration between Frank and his friend Jason Smith. Jason battled brain cancer for seven years. During that time, the two worked together on biological research to help him fight the disease. They focused on wellness, not illness, and Frank believes that helped Jason to live with cancer until it took over in the end. Before Jason’s death, he asked Frank to promise to continue the research they started. In 2015, Frank took a leap of faith to keep that promise. He left his executive role, went part time in the ER and continues to build the legacy.
Frank works alongside other Christians in the medical profession facilitating a collaborative, cooperative and integrative approach to research. “When we all work together, it reminds us of the body of Christ. It’s amazing what things can be done with a common mission.”
Although Frank’s passion for healthcare centers around his faith in Christ, he only talks about Jesus when people ask him why he does what he does. “They are hungrier when they ask. When they ask why, they really want to know,” he said. “We welcome that inquiry.”
For more information about VitalityPro camps, classes and research, visit myvitalitypro.com.