This week I had the privilege of interviewing Bostonian Alex Wisch. Alex became the go-to mental and physical performance specialist to professional athletes, CEOs and private equity leaders after defeating his own decades-long, nearly incapacitating depression that robbed him of a likely spot on the U.S. Olympic sailing team. Through overcoming his personal hardships with major depression and witnessing the many challenges with mental health people have faced, especially during these isolating times of the Pandemic, he created his Charity: FitnessForMentalHealth.org.
BMM: What is the goal of Fitness For Mental Health?
Alex: Fitness For Mental Health’s goal is to become a leading platform that educates individuals on holistic methods, such as fitness, mindfulness, and nutrition, to help prevent mental illness and improve overall mental wellness. In addition, we create events and ways for people to take control of their lives and begin their own transformation to a healthier mind and body. We aim to bring global awareness to the mental health crisis, help individuals reduce the need for psychiatric drugs by optimizing holistic treatment, inspire people to take a more active role in their mental health and reduce the mental health crisis. Also, we aim to reduce the stigma around mental health and educate people how it can affect anyone regardless of personal circumstances.
BMM: Why is this cause important to you?
Alex: It is important to me because I suffered for over 7 years with crippling major depression that left me penniless, without a home, unable to work and on disability. It was not until I let go of the idea of finding some silver bullet and began treating my condition holistically. “Nothing freed me from its grip until I took hold of my own life by designing and using my own fitness, nutrition, meditation and positive psychology plan. That unwavering focus on revitalizing and strengthening my body to strengthen my mind was the beacon of light that led me out of the darkness. I understood that prior to working on my psychological well-being, it was essential to optimize my biology and my body’s innate, healing wisdom.”
It worked so well that, although I still struggle with a degree of depression, I have won an ultramarathon and dozens of other athletic competitions, became a leading investor and advisor in transformational health and wellness companies, and emerged as a go-to expert on peak physical and mental performance, with clients around the world.
BMM: Do you have a signature event to raise money?
Alex: On May 30th, 2021, during Mental Health Awareness Month and the day before Memorial Day, I will take on an incredible fitness feat of my own to bring awareness to the fact that the mental health crisis affects people of all backgrounds, including our nation’s veterans. I will perform 1,000 pull-ups, 2,000 push-ups and 3,000 squats, all within 10 hours while wearing a 24-pound weighted vest to symbolize the weight of mental illness on the many millions who must confront it.
I am also launching the first 30-Day Fitness For mental Health Challenge. This includes performing pull-ups, push-ups, and squats every other day, throughout the month of May, along with a daily 5-minute practice of mindfulness. It is now very well understood that pairing daily physical activity with mindfulness practices significantly improves anxiety and depression symptoms, along with reducing the risk for clinical depression.
People who donate even $1.00 will be given access to a series of videos I created that provides ways to progress and regress each exercise, an alternative movement to pull-ups if you do not have a pull-up bar and special instructions for how to successfully complete each fitness challenge.
BMM: What kind of support is your Charity looking for?
Alex: I am inviting people to donate to support my Herculean effort. All the money donated will go directly to the charity Team Red, White & Blue. Every year, more than 250,000 active duty service members transition out of the military, joining the 3.5 million post-9/11 veterans already living in communities nationwide. They face isolation, weight gain, lack of purpose, PTSD, anxiety, depression and other ailments. Team Red, White & Blue utilizes fitness and community to help veterans overcome these hardships.
We are also looking for individuals who are interested in performing their own personal challenge of pull-ups, push-ups and squats on May 30th or people who would just like to support the cause and reach out to friends, families and businesses for donations. Donations can be made at FitnessForMentalHealth.org
In addition, we are looking for social media influencers who would be interested in commentating during the live stream of the Fitness Feat to help raise additional donations.
BMM: How can people get involved?
Alex: Join the 30 Day Fitness For Mental Health Challenge, post on social media using #FitnessForMentalHealth, get friends, family and colleagues involved.
BMM: What are your social media handles / points of contact for people who want to get involved?
BMM: How has your Charity been able to help so far?
Alex: We have begun spreading the word about the Mental Health Crisis through interviews, podcasts, social media, and news articles. Our mission is just starting.
BMM: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Alex: Every Thursday on @Wisch.Fit, Fitness For Mental Health is sponsoring interviews with leading experts and athletes about mental health, personal struggles, fitness and other holistic practices to improve mental wellbeing.
I want to say a huge thank you to Alex for being open about his journey and giving members of our community an opportunity to do the same. If you are ready to donate or get involved, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Alex!
Alexandra Marcello is the Non-Profit Coordinator for BostonMan Magazine. A lifelong philanthropist, Ally also balances her time as a model, actress, television host and real estate agent. If you have a non-profit or charitable cause you would like to have featured in BostonMan, please reach out to Ally here.