The Rehab That Knows CrossFit Can Help You Stay Sober

By Rock Recovery Center 08/29/16

CrossFit combined with rigorous adventure therapy and a solid nutrition program is a much-needed change of pace from the traditional “classroom type setting” treatment facility.

People exercising with kettle balls.

The mere mention of CrossFit usually evokes a hard-core monologue about how it’s changed someone’s life. Whether you resist rolling your eyes at the friend who won’t stop gushing about Paleo (the “caveman diet” often adopted by hard core CrossFitters) or you are the friend who now swears by Paleo, the exercise’s increasing popularity is undeniable. The notorious garage gyms are popping up everywhere. But will they soon be a common presence in rehabs for drug and alcohol addiction, too?

Wait, What Is It Again?

Although you’ve most likely heard of it by now, you still might not know exactly what the hell CrossFit actually is. If you think it’s just people with well-defined shoulders pushing big tires around while grunting, there’s actually more to it than that. CrossFit, Inc. describes its regimen as “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity…these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more.” All of this super intensive work is done in relatively short time spans, upholding a pretty solid example of how to work smarter, not harder, and build some serious biceps in the process.

The team work and fellowship aspect comes into play by the community that’s organically created when these folks are lifting all these heavy kettle bells as a group—it’s one of the major reasons they can’t get enough of the workout. The couples/friends/coworkers who essentially train like professional athletes together, stay together. This can also be said for those who are getting sober together, no?

CrossFit Meets Rehab

Of course, physical exercise this rigorous could appear to be a pretty intense challenge for someone in early sobriety. Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida doesn’t think so. In fact, the implementation of CrossFit is an essential component of its treatment program. Each client seeking recovery in the inpatient program has full access to the facility’s CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit First Step. He or she is assigned a trainer who creates an individualized plan and places them in a permanent group to foster peer support throughout the physical challenge. The team at Rock Recovery Center believes CrossFit combined with rigorous adventure therapy and a solid nutrition program is a much-needed change of pace from the traditional “classroom type setting” treatment facility.

Proof That It Works

But can CrossFit actually help with sobriety? Absolutely, says Brooklyn resident Patrick U, who discovered the fitness regimen not long after he quit drinking. Initially, he didn’t think he could do CrossFit because he was too “in his head” and “unable to focus.” About three months into sobriety, he started lifting weights at a conventional gym but then he went to visit a cousin in Minnesota who took him to a CrossFit gym. The rest is history; he fell in love. He will have five years sober this September and attributes a lot of his success with staying off alcohol to his commitment to the high intensity workout. “What I love about CrossFit and how it coincides with sobriety is that you set goals for yourself,” he says. “You want to squat 300 pounds by end of year? You go up in weight in small increments and that’s how I look at everything in sobriety—baby steps and ultimately you reach that goal. It’s really broadened my perspective on goal setting and keeping mentally and physically fit.”

Everybody needs to keep their bod moving—for the mood boosting endorphins, cardiovascular health benefits and increased chances of lookin’ fly in skinny jeans (joking) (sort of), among other reasons. But before we start sounding like a lady’s fitness magazine, it’s important to emphasize that addicts and alcoholics especially need to make sure they don’t get too sedentary. Patrick, for one, wholeheartedly agrees with the notion that exercise is significant for alcoholics because we tend to have generalized addictive personalities, whether the behavior is unhealthy or healthy. As he points out, “You might as well get addicted to something that’s going to benefit you instead of looking toward something that’s going to be a detriment to you.”

So Much More Than a Gym

Patrick emphasizes how much he loves the fellowship vibes in CrossFit, too. “It’s full of healthy individuals who all have the same mindset of working hard and helping each other,” he says. “I was always prone to isolation in my sobriety. One of the key things for me was stepping out of a regular gym and stepping into a CrossFit gym—mentally I’ve grown from that.”

Are more rehabs like Rock Recovery Center going to start rocking (sorry, we couldn’t resist) CrossFit as part of their treatment plan? With the rise of the concept of holistic treatment, the notion doesn’t seem that unfeasible. Better a barbell than a bar, right?

Want to learn more about Rock Recovery Center? Reach them by phone at (866) 319-1815 or by email here. Find Rock Recovery Center on Facebook

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