Gym Owner Offers Free Memberships To People In Recovery

By Victoria Kim 04/06/18

Black Iron Gym owner Krissy Mae Cagney has channeled her passion for fitness toward helping others in recovery.

woman lifting weights in the gym

A gym in Sparks, Nevada is supporting the recovery community, by offering free memberships and a safe place to chase a different kind of high.

Krissy Mae Cagney, 29, opened the Black Iron Gym in 2015, inspired by how fitness helped her overcome her problem with cocaine and alcohol.

In a new interview with People, Cagney describes how she would use drugs and alcohol to cope with her anxiety.

“I’ve had behavioral problems since I was a child, such as diagnosed anxiety and personality disorder,” she said. “I started using at a really young age because of those behavioral problems so I used for about 10 years, all through high school and college. My addiction got bad enough to the point where it left me homeless several times.”

The Reno native was in and out of jail and rehab. Counseling wasn't working, and it didn’t help that she never had a safe place “where I knew I could be (and stay) sober.”

Her calling was at the gym. “During my years of using, the gym seemed to be the only thing with the power to pull me away from using,” Cagney said. “Over the years, the only time that I would be able to stay sober longer than a couple of days is when I was really committed to the gym. For the last year I used, it was a revolving door of trying to get sober, making it 10 days to two weeks and then drinking and using again.”

After 10 years of battling substance use disorder, Cagney finally hit a wall at age 24, when she began having alcohol-induced seizures and was told that she would die if she continued to drink.

Now sober for five years, Cagney has channeled her passion for fitness toward helping others. She opened the Black Iron Gym and started the Reps 4 Recovery program, which offers free gym memberships to people in recovery.

“I have seen doctors, college students, lawyers, and more come through my doors and they all want the same things… to be sober, to be accepted, and to be loved,” she said on her GoFundMe page, where people can donate money to fund the memberships.

By reaching her initial fundraising goal of $60,000, Cagney was able to secure free memberships for about 100 people through the end of 2018. She’s now increased her fundraising goal to $85,000 to keep the momentum going.

If she succeeds, she’ll be that much closer to her goal of hiring a counselor on staff and ultimately becoming a recognized treatment facility where she won't have to turn away anyone seeking help.

As of Thursday afternoon, she has raised $84,500.

The Black Iron Gym is Cagney’s safe place, as it is for her members in recovery.

“For me, you have to chase a high when you’re using and with powerlifting, it was the same thing,” she told People. “Chasing a personal record or the feeling of getting strong in the gym, for me, was the equivalent of getting high.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr