Thursday, 18 May 2017 23:44

Non-profit gym helps people stay sober

The free Saturday Boot Camp workouts at the Fit to Recover gym draw large numbers each week. Coaches and participants support one another during the workouts and in their recovery from addiction.|Rachel DeGuzman and Nikk DeJung pair up and support one another during a free Saturday Boot Camp workout in April at the Fit to Recover gym in the Glendale community, Salt Lake City. ||||| The free Saturday Boot Camp workouts at the Fit to Recover gym draw large numbers each week. Coaches and participants support one another during the workouts and in their recovery from addiction.|Rachel DeGuzman and Nikk DeJung pair up and support one another during a free Saturday Boot Camp workout in April at the Fit to Recover gym in the Glendale community, Salt Lake City. ||||| ||||||

By Sarah Kappos / Photo by David Ricketts

"What will I do now that I am out of treatment?" This is the haunting question for most people as they transition from rehab to a larger world. Making the commitment to enter a facility for drug and alcohol addiction is a huge step, and people often struggle to know what is next. They leave feeling raw and acutely sober for the first time in years.

Fit to Recover was created to help ease the transition from addiction into a fresh and healthy life. Their model is unlike anything yet offered to the recovery community. In its holistic approach, Fit to Recover uses four pillars: Fitness, Nutrition, Creative Expression, and Service. Using these avenues members build strength mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

As a registered non-profit, Fit to Recover recently hosted a two-year anniversary fundraiser for a full house, complete with music and poetry performance by FTR members.

However, FTR began as a boot camp-style workout in Sugar House Park. The group had yet to find a building and the weather was turning cold. Founder Ian Acker only knew a few things to be true when he began. One, he loved exercise. It gave him relief in a way that alcohol and drugs had done in the past. Two, he needed to be of service to his fellows. Three, he had a boom box. So he took it to the park, and the thing caught fire.

The Saturday morning group began to thrive. It filled people’s need to connect and grow strong. I personally joined Ian in the park during the summer of 2014, and became wholeheartedly devoted to helping him build his dream. I often said to him (as we lay in the grass, sweaty and exhausted after a workout),"Ian, as long as you don't give up, we can't fail. If you don't give up on FTR, I won't give up on you."

It is this spirit of camaraderie that binds FTR members together. The world of addiction is harsh. We see a lot of relapse and we lose many friends. For this reason, we give all we can in service to each other. Because many of us do make it, and go on to live powerful lives.

I am now employed as the head of the Creative Expression pillar, and I am amazed at how far we have come. In January of 2015 we got our building, located just west of the Sorenson Center in Glendale. Ian and I walked into a blank white warehouse and began painting our first mural on the south wall. We spent many afternoons together painting and dreaming of what FTR would become.

From a sincere desire to serve our fellows, we have built a thriving community. Under the Creative Expression pillar we offer paint night and creative writing. We host poetry readings and record music in our sound booth. Treatment centers bring their inpatient clients for art classes.

We also overlap the Service Pillar with community art projects. We are currently working on a mural along the Jordan River trail just north of 1300 South with Dane Hess and his Latinos In Action (LIA) class at Glendale Middle School. We start painting in mid-May.

James Sjostrom heads the Fitness Pillar. He brings 10-plus years of superior fitness training in Crossfit, StrongFirst Kettlebells, and the new Tact Fit strength programs. A former marine, James is a formidable presence in the gym. However, anyone who trains with him finds his kindness is revealed by a willingness to hold people to a high standard. It also comes out in the "dad jokes," which only he finds funny.

Fitness classes are offered all day every day. This also includes High Fitness and yoga. Founder Ian Acker still runs Boot Camp on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., drawing a crowd of 100-plus people weekly. This class is free and open to all. It is a great introduction to the community.

The Service pillar is run by “The Little Woman That Could” Rachel Santizo. Rachel was once homeless, and she tells some good dumpster diving stories. The kindness of others pulled her out and gave her a second chance. Ian Acker was one of her first friends. Because of this, her pillar is built on the deep belief that every individual life matters.

In her outreach events, members hit the streets bringing vital items to those living in the harshest conditions. On Christmas Day last year, Rachel brought tents, tarps, coats, hot chili and cocoa as gifts down to the Road Home. In true FTR style, the community rushed in to support her. Many parents including me, brought their children on Christmas morning to show them the true spirit of giving.

Tessa Acker runs the Nutrition pillar and she is just as warm and inviting as her kitchen. Fit to Recover is delighted to have a brand-new, full kitchen upstairs. Tessa hosts workshops on meal preparation, garden planting, quick dinners, sushi rolling and probiotics. She brings a compassionate spirit to her pillar and even offers one-on-one consultations. Her goal is to bring community back around the table in celebration of each other and for our nourishment.

Fit to Recover has grown exponentially in the last two years, and our only aim is to continue to serve. We are located at 789 W. 1390 S. and as neighbors, we are eager to connect.

For more information, visit www.fit2recover.org or find them on Facebook and Instagram. Sarah Kappos is the Creative Expression Director at Fit to Recover. If you would like to receive their newsletter, email her at .