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Unique gym offers substance abuse recovery through exercise, counseling

Posted at 9:59 AM, Dec 13, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. — Inside these gym walls, you’ll find the same perseverance, competition and sweat typical of a gym.

But this one is anything but typical.

This is The Recovery Gym, based in Portland, Oregon.

“(What) we want is someone to come in and feel understood, to feel like they belong,” said Brent Canode, the gym’s founder.

All of the members of this gym are recovering from substance abuse and mental health issues.

“We have contracts with five different treatment centers,” Canode said. “We actually go pick clients up while they're in in-patient treatment and start to develop those kinds of healthy habits. And then they're allowed to come free of charge once they leave treatment.”

Every month, between 500 and 750 people come there to work out and work through their recovery.

The gym works with the Science Research Consortium and it has partnered with the National Institutes of Health to make sure the work at the gym is backed up by science and data.

Shiloe Allison is the gym’s director.

“I've seen people come in often that are apologetic,” Allison said. “Right off the bat and they're just like, ‘I'm sorry that I'm not going to be able to do this work out the way that it's written,’ and I'm just like ‘No, no, that's what we're here for — we're going to make you successful at this.’ ”

Emily Fox is one of those success stories.

“Couldn't even tie my shoes without getting out of breath,” she said.

Two years ago, Fox said she gained 50 pounds after undergoing treatment for substance abuse. She heard about The Recovery Gym and decided to give it a shot.

“It takes you that much farther away from you're wanting to put drugs into your body or do self-harm because you're taking care of your body,” she said.

So much so, that Fox has gone from student to teacher. She now works as a Crossfit instructor at The Recovery Gym.

“I've made a lot of friends here and now it's my career, it's where I get to work,” she said. “I get to tell people like, this my church, it’s where I go for my spiritual well-being, as well as my physical well-being.”

For more information on The Recovery Gym, click here.