Finding ‘human strength’ in recovery

Human Strength - South Philadelphia

Featured: The Human Strength program at Fearless Athletics pairs cardio and gymnastics with both traditional and Olympic weightlifting in order to train all parts of a participant’s physique. Melody Schofield looks at the program as a “welcome back” to sobriety and a welcome to recovery.
 Above: Human Strength is a CrossFit program tailored to welcome people with 48 hours of sobriety free-of-charge in order to channel their energies into a positive, healthful activity. 

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.”

Human Strength - South Philadelphia
Gavin Young, a trainer at Fearless Athletics, has been in active recovery for nine years.

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.”


About the author

Jacob Martin

Student athlete Jacob Martin is a junior journalism major in the School of Media and Communication at Temple University. Over the three years he has been a Temple student, he has developed as a skill for journalism design. As he embarks on this new journey in solutions journalism he seeks to particularize his ability in solutions journalism writing. Jacob has not been personally affected by addition but knows that this is one community that needs to be brought to light. He is very thrilled to be apart of this solutions journalism team and cannot wait to help put an end to the negative social connotations that surround addiction. Feel free to contact Jacob at

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