Program using fitness to help treat addictions opens new facility

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City’s first sober gym opened its doors Saturday morning; Fit to Recover is a boot camp specifically designed for those in treatment.

What began as just a few people working out in Sugar House Park has turned into a community with a new facility to call home.

Many health experts will recommend that people work out with a partner--someone to hold a person accountable and help them succeed. It’s not a coincidence that many rehab or addiction treatment centers recommend the same strategy.

“It releases endorphins, which is what we are all chasing in the first place, what I was chasing,” said Jarhett Jones, who is a client of Fit to Recover.

Saturday was a special day for Fit to Recover; it was the first work out in their very own facility. The sober workout group is the dream turned reality for founder Ian Acker.

“I put the two things that helped me in my recovery, which was helping people and exercise, together, and I made a non-profit gym to bring people together under one roof,” Acker said.

But there wasn’t always a roof. Donations have brought the gym from a modest boot camp in the park to an indoor facility with a kitchen, various rooms for meetings, and even child care.

“It is much more than a gym, it’s community, it’s a family of people coming together,” said lacey Garcia, who is Fit to Recover’s women’s coordinator.

The workouts aren’t just physically challenging. Acker, a recovering addict himself, describes a workout as a metaphor for addiction recovery.

“There are times you want to give up just like in sobriety,” he said. “There are times when you want to quit, but you have someone pushing you.”

Acker stresses this isn't rehab, it's just one more thing to make a long road to recovery seem shorter and less lonely.

“It’s not a fix all, but it’s just one more thing that we can add to our recovery,” he said. “With our meetings, with therapy, acupuncture, you name it—it’s just one more tool to add to our tool belt to stay sober.”

Jarhett Jones said the gym has helped him rebuild a sober life after heroin held him for three years.

“It kept me sober,” he said. “It’s not the reason I am sober, but I wouldn’t be without it.”

Fit to Recover will officially open to the public January 3, and by then they plan to offer at least 20 classes each week. The gym is not just for addicts, it’s a place for anyone who would like support and a workout.

For more information about Fit to Recover, visit their website.