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SALT LAKE CITY — Working out and eating right are important for all of us, but it can be also life-saving for a growing group of Utahns dealing with addictions.
Frank Young starts in a circle, welcoming and encouraging everyone. It’s not a typical exercise class.
They are united against a common foe.
“Methamphetamine,” says Ekko Poster, a client at Fit to Recover, a special gym for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. “I didn’t like the outside of me. I didn’t like the inside of me, and I needed to change something.”
Poster joined the gym to help her stay sober, and it’s making a difference.
“You have to love yourself, and I’ve never been able to love myself,” she said. “But now I look in the mirror and I can say, ‘I love you.’”
Fitness director Frank Young says people can progress toward individual goals through exercise.
“It’s a connect that turns into community, that turns into love,” he says. “We can have a person who’s right out of drug and alcohol treatment who’s working out with someone who’s five or six or seven years sober.”
They connect with their bodies after decades of inactivity and abuse, which helps them mentally as well.
“When people start to get some of the endorphins and confidence that happens when people improve their physical health, it spills over into their emotional and spiritual lives,” Young says.
Tessa Acker is a dietician. She helps patients overcome malnutrition from addiction.
“If we can choose foods that nourish our bodies and nourish our souls and help us be our healthiest we can be, that’s kind of what I’m going for,” Acker says.
They also offer a cooking class that teaches people new ways to prepare healthy food. It’s all about learning together as a community and gaining strength from others. Acker teaches them that by making healthy choices, it stabilizes blood sugars and mood, making it easier to stay on track.
Rachel Cox is making a main dish with cauliflower, and working hard to stay clean.
“I’ve actually never tried cauliflower before so this will be my first time,” she says.
Through consistency, and passion, people at the gym say they are finding a purpose.
“You still get those cravings daily, and I feel like exercise balances that out in my head so I’m not sitting there thinking, ‘When am I gonna go use next?’” says Maara Ballesteros.
By staying physically fit and healthy, they face the challenges together.
Fit to Recover also offers classes in creative arts and opportunities for community service.