Human Strength provides free CrossFit courses for people with 48 hours of continuous sobriety.
In the beginning of his recovery, Gavin Young was unsure how to handle one thing: free time.
Young said the time he once spent using substances translated into focusing on other unhealthy things, like serial dating and working too much. Now, he’s shifted his focus to CrossFit — a workout that incorporates elements of gymnastics, weightlifting, running and rowing.
“Not shaking was a big plus and being able to sleep through the night was huge, but I think there was a certain part of life that was missing,” Young said. “I was looking for something to fill that time. [CrossFit] was a natural fit.”
Young co-coaches Human Strength, a weekly CrossFit class for people who have 48 hours of sobriety from substance use, with Melody Schofield at Fearless Athletics in South Philadelphia. Human Strength is a national initiative offered through Phoenix Multisport, a nonprofit that offers free athletic classes for people with 48 hours of continuous sobriety.
A study by the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol reported that exercise is a “potentially promising adjunctive treatment” for substance use disorder. This is because exercise stimulates the same reward pathways in the brain that substance use does for people who are addicted, according to the report.
Young said the class creates a sense of community similar to 12-step fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, but it is supposed to be a supplement for treatment — not a replacement.
He added that exercising with other people in long-term recovery can be empowering.
Schofield started coaching Human Strength a month into her recovery. She said she had always been passionate about fitness, but was determined to bring CrossFit to the city.
“That’s what people in recovery are missing, the sense of community,” Schofield said. “It gives us something to do now that we are sober.”