How One Rehab is Taking Women and Wellness to a Whole New Level

By Lakeview Health 09/26/16

Lakeview Health's gender-specific programming offers patients a variety of ways to incorporate wellness into their recovery process. 

How One Rehab is Taking Women and Wellness to a Whole New Level
Photo courtesy of (C) Agnes Lopez Photography 2014; provided by Lakeview Health

Not unlike hotels that offer an alleged “fitness center” and come up very short, anytime a rehab boasts an “on-site gym,” incoming clients have every right to be dubious. There’s a big difference between an actual gym and a tiny, carpeted room with two broken treadmills and an assortment of rusty dumbbells. Oh, and a stationary bike from 1989—there’s always at least one of those. But as more addiction treatment facilities start to implement holistic approaches to recovery, the pressure to up their game in the fitness department is definitely on.

That’s Not a Gym, It’s a Gymnasium

Regular exercise is a no brainer for people new to recovery. The endorphin boost alone helps combat the emotional withdrawal symptoms of getting off drugs or alcohol but it’s also setting the foundation for a newer, healthier lifestyle—ideally, one that doesn’t revolve around guzzling excessive amounts of Merlot on the reg.

We spoke to Lauren Stobbie, MS, CSCS, the Health and Fitness Program Supervisor at Lakeview Health in Jacksonville, Florida. She’s the instigator and overseer of its 10,000 square-foot wellness center. Yep, you read that right: 10,000 square feet. We don’t know how savvy your square footage knowledge is but trust us, that’s a pretty giant space, definitely more than your average rehab rec room.

Stobbie confirmed there are four trainers on staff who facilitate group fitness classes seven days a week and one-on-one personal training, all of which is included in treatment. Classes range from “Butts and Guts” and yoga to metabolic conditioning (did you know that was a thing? We didn’t) and ballet barre. So you get the gist: anyone who seeks treatment here is going to do a little more physical activity than the standard afternoon walk around the campus grounds.

Girl Power

Lakeview prides itself on gender-specific programming. Women and men are kept totally separate throughout the course of treatment and the Lakeview staff believe women in particular reap serious benefits from incorporating the concept of wellness into addiction recovery. The average age of a lady in treatment at Lakeview is late 20s to early 30s, though there are also women as young as 18 and as old as 60-something. The point is, regardless of the current decade someone is experiencing in life, she will be expected to get moving. In fact, the physical component of treatment begins almost immediately.

“They’re required when they get off detox, for about the first three weeks, to work with a trainer so we can teach them how to use equipment and what proper technique looks like so they know what they’re doing and won’t injure themselves,” Stobbie says. “I wanted to create something that would mimic what they see when they leave here.”

The gender-specific angle is obviously a plus in group therapy. In the Lakeview women’s program, clients are allowed to share freely in a safe space about topics they might otherwise feel uncomfortable broaching. But that comfort level carries over into the wellness component of treatment, too.

Stobbie attests, “Having only women in here allows them to focus on themselves instead of feeling like they have to impress the opposite sex. We really get to kind of watch that transformation take place.”

And the transformation proves to be infectious.

“I have girls come up to me and start flexing their muscles,” she says. “They become proud of the progress they’re making; for the first time in their life, they’re reaching goals.”

Keeping a Healthy Habit In Check

When it comes to women especially, there’s often a fine line between wanting to be healthy and becoming body-obsessive. Women are constantly bombarded with images of how they’re “supposed” to look, and these days it’s often under the guise of being “fitspiration” (if you find the term “Strong is the New Skinny” triggering, you aren’t alone). It’s mixed messaging: women are finally being told to embrace their curves and not worry about being ultra thin but God forbid their abs don’t pop above their thigh-gap-showcasing yoga pants. (We know dudes can have body insecurities too but we’re focusing on gals and wellness in this particular piece, okay? Okay.)

So we asked Stobbie how they make sure this goal for total body wellness doesn’t turn into another issue in itself since there’s always the danger of a healthy habit becoming a full-fledged problem. And how does she balance encouraging female clients to get healthy while still navigating the shaky ground of early sobriety (AKA when it’s preferable to just sit in a room eating cake and crying for as long as it takes to feel better)?

“The big thing I emphasize with them in the first week or two is don’t stress about it; your body is going through a lot of changes,” she says. “The last thing you need is to be stressing about your weight.”

She, along with Lakeview’s nutrition team, maintains the message that moderation is key. Often clients have been depriving their body of proper nutrients for quite a long time so it’s very possible, when they come to her complaining about gaining weight when they first get to treatment, that their body is trying to hold on to the food it’s being given.

She reiterates what she tells them: “It’s not to say you can’t ever have candy bars or cake; you just don’t need to have one every single day after lunch and dinner.” Moderation isn’t always easy for addicted types but learning the concept of it in formal treatment is certainly a good start.

Rehab Restart Button

It’s often said in recovery circles that drinking or doing drugs are just symptoms and the real-ism reveals itself when someone stops. That’s why it’s crucial to really tackle the whole mind-body-spirit agenda and the sooner, the better. People in treatment are essentially rebuilding their lives from scratch so establishing a healthy relationship with exercise and nutrition in early recovery makes a lot of sense. After all, getting clean and sober isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle change.

Want to learn more about Lakeview Health? Reach Lakeview Health by phone at (800) 884-1727 or by email. Find Lakeview Health on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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