The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


August 7, 2013

His ability

Fall down seven times, stand up eight (Japanese proverb)

He wasn’t about to let his disability become inability.

Army veteran Clay Jones may not have taken hits from gunfire during his active duty tours in Afghanistan and Bosnia, but the multiple physical injuries he sustained at a young age as part of a light infantry unit were hits both progressive and debilitating. Jones found himself at 33 with the mobility of an old man.

“If you combine Michael J. Fox with Mohammed Ali, that would be my situation,” says the combat medic-turned-personal trainer and businessman.

His injuries included extensive cervical, thoracic and lumber disc and nerve damage from regular combat loads with heavy rucksacks compounded by a military vehicular accident.

After 16 months in rehab and seven years serving his country, Jones received a medical honorable discharge for an 80 percent disability.

Following his discharge, the civilian battle began —  pain pill regimens and epidurals, steroids injected directly into the spine as a measure for pain control. Jones endured multiple back surgeries, including two for his lower back and one neck surgery, and following each was an extensive and painful rehabilitation.

After an incident where a disc ruptured and severely compromised his nerves, he had to re-learn how to write and use a keyboard.

“It took me three years to get back to lifting a weight,” he says.

“It got to the point that the long-term medications were taking hold of my system,” says the man who had held nutrition and health as a high standard for as far back as he could remember.

He began resisting the medications prescribed to him; narcotics were easy to acquire by someone in his condition. There were anti-inflammatory medications he had to take to be at all functional, but to him, each pill equated more poison entering his system.

“I was never addicted, but I began feeling the effects. I started fighting back with nutrition and fitness.”

As strange as it may seem to some for a disabled person to recommend hitting the gym, that’s exactly what Jones did and it’s his standing recommendation to others today.

“Getting a membership to a gym and getting a personal trainer will expose you to people who are in those environments. They will inspire you and create for you a sense of community and peer support. When you are around only others who are disabled, they aren’t likely to head in that direction.”

Through a greater-than-average dose of personal determination, Jones forced himself to move, to workout and to begin his customary weight training again, this time from scratch.

His personal life began to follow suit. He went back to school, ultimately obtaining his bachelor’s degree in health science management.

“I was in so much pain, I couldn’t carry my books to class,” he admits.

While he still has pain today, he has found his relief and his support system in maintaining a consistently healthy lifestyle. His resolve to keep moving has kept him valid in the workplace. As a self-employed, self-sustaining man, his customization of his own recovery has paid off.

Jones acted as athletic trainer for the Beckley semi-pro soccer team, King’s Warriors this 2013 season. He uses Bodyworks’ Beckley facility to further his established career in conditioning athletes. He privately trained 12 members of the West Virginia Miners baseball team there and filled in when needed as a substitute athletic trainer for the team. He is presently engaged in pre-season strength conditioning with members of the Liberty High School basketball and cross country teams.

Jones has also channeled his passion for nutrition and healthy lifestyles by adding a customized nutrition supplement line to his company, Muscle Architecture.

I’ve been making my own natural supplements since I was 14. I used to make them for soldiers. They’re all-natural and all-herbal.”

Using pharmaceutical grade natural and herbal components, he compounds supplements to suit his clients’ needs.

“The products stay whole, preservative-free and fresh. It’s no different than making a cake.”

Currently pitching his products to different wholesalers, Jones is hoping to break into the retail market. His goal, he says, is to create a complete system of supplements for moms, dads, office workers or athletes.

“I want to work with people who want to make a difference in their lives,” he says. “You have to be dedicated, but weight-training and nutrition can get you sizable benefits over medications. Pain is manageable.”

Although Jones has been successful building up enough strength to maintain a semi-normal daily lifestyle in spite of his disability, there’s no day that’s entirely pain-free.

“There are still bad ones, but it’s not like it was years ago — five minutes of standing, five minutes of sitting, five minutes of laying down.”

His resounding message for anyone with a disability? “You need to fight, because there’s a way.”

For more information about Muscle Architecture, e-mail clayjones

— E-mail:


Text Only
  • life dr Wellness Wednesday: Adding an ‘I’ to TEAM

    Erica Tuckwiller is pediatrician with a deep-seated passion for changing the course of the childhood obesity epidemic.

    “As a physician, good nutrition is one of the biggest challenges I face in the care of our children and I actually have been involved in the fight against childhood obesity beginning with my senior thesis early in my college career at WVU,” she stated.


    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • bob thompson The jazz man

    If Bob Thompson’s 30-year career as a professional musician has taught him anything, it’s that there are really only two kinds of music.


    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Leave a good legacy, and respect others’

    The death this week of the Rev. Jerry Falwell led to a network and cable blitz of commentaries on his life. We’ve been bombarded with a flurry of eulogies, criticisms, apathetic shrugs and lots of news footage regarding Falwell’s faith and foibles.


    July 26, 2014

  • 072314 Life CrossFit 4.jpg Crossfit Nation: Working out the WOD way

    Just as fashion trends come and go, so do fitness fads, and Cyndie Chinn had tried them all.

    July 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • downsize 1 Living large in smaller spaces

    How is it possible that as your nest gets emptier, your garage gets fuller? Living off the grid sounds tantalizing — the extreme version of paring down. But are you ready for solar panels and growing your own groceries or would a smaller home do the trick?

    July 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • Relishing the faith of little children

    July 19, 2014

  • Guns 1 ‘Guns’ for Life

    With the latest World Health Organization figures showing global life expectancy increasing from 64 years in 1990 to 70 years in 2011, staying healthy enough to add quality to the quantity of life is an important consideration.

    July 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • coconut 4 Crack open the power of the coconut

    Now let’s get this straight …
      We know about Parrotheads. And Cheeseheads. But when did Coconut Heads become cool?
    Move over, argan — you are so last season. Another exotic oil is taking lead role in everything from shampoo to weight-loss supplements. That cast-iron skillet seasoning, stretch-mark banishing essence of the hour is — coconut oil.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Free summer serenade concert to be held

    Aurora Celtic, sponsored by Ivy & Stone, presents the free Summer Serenade concert Saturday at 6 p.m. on the Brown House lawn in Summersville.

    July 13, 2014

  • WVU Extension: Healthy summer eating tips for all occasions

    Summer and early fall are the times of year for family reunions, potluck picnics, pool parties and various other celebrations where we like to share food.

    July 13, 2014