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Working Out — A Powerful Recovery Tool

Joining a gym can be intimidating, especially when you’re in early recovery. Most people who get sober are not exactly in the best shape of their lives. But the benefits of working out are unquestionable.

Healthy activities are a key component of the Living Sober program. We teamed up with a nearby gym called FTX Wellness. Membership to this high-end workout facility is included and keeps you motivated.

Living Sober’s program director Brad Hanley knows FTX owner Octavio Cifuentes well: “I met him when I first got sober and started going to the FTX gym myself,” he remembers. “So, we decided to provide an environment to suit all levels of physical experience. When we were looking to partner with a gym, I already knew the FTX team well, which was ideal for our clients.”

“So, we decided to provide an environment to suit all levels of physical experience. When we were looking to partner with a gym, I already knew the FTX team well, which was ideal for our clients.”

Cifuentes is the ideal partner, as he is very familiar with the challenges of recovery. Years ago, he came to South Florida to receive treatment for a substance use disorder himself. While living in a sober house, Cifuentes had trouble sleeping and requested that he be allowed to exercise regularly. He quickly realized the significant physical and mental benefits of exercise. “It was the only place I found my sanity,” Cifuentes says today, “when I left the gym, I was tired but I also felt energized. It cleared my mind and made me feel great. I was finally able to sleep and it has been the key to my sobriety ever since.”

Cifuentes had discovered the recovery power of physical activity and has since made it his career to share the benefits of wellness with others. “I could see the change coming physically, that was huge for me.”

Cifuentes got to train and coach other people in recovery and realized they needed special attention and a different approach because many were not in good shape and didn’t even want to be there.” Once he had his own place, he realized the need for other staff as well—a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a yoga instructor, and others were added to the team. Since FTX works with a number of treatment centers in the area, the gym personnel has a lot of experience with recovery clients.

“The Living Sober fitness program started out as two days a week,” says Hanley. “But it’s so popular that most of the male clients now go three times a week. It’s a safe place to work out with other people in recovery, so there’s only support and no judgment.”

It’s also a nice break from the challenging recovery schedule at Living Sober. Few people realize that recovery is hard work every day and not just abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

“Going to a place where you can listen to music and sit on a bike for 30 minutes can be a welcome break,” confirms Hanley. And it’s great cardio at the same time!

Exercise increases overall health and a person’s sense of well-being. Physical activity increases the production of the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. This function is sometimes referred to as a “runner's high,” it’s a healthy way to feel good. At the same time, the endorphins reduce the negative effects of stress—a major driver of addiction.

The FTX team knows that patients in recovery are dealing with complex circumstances that require a long-term, evidence-based, multidisciplinary treatment plan. Compassion is their key commitment, treating patients with respect and dignity. “Nobody is expected to turn into a super athlete but a short workout to get the heart rate going can be a powerful recovery tool,” says Hanley.

Recovery is a tough challenge to be faced every day. There is little room to get comfortable. Cifuentes knows that from his own experience: “Reality hit me hard too. I relapsed after 8 years of sobriety, that was tough.” It took him 18 months to get back, he remembers. “The most beautiful thing I learned in recovery is that they always take you back with open arms. The love is always there.”

Recovery is a bio-psycho-social endeavor. Sober Living clients have access to various tools to enable them to stay sober and gain a fresh perspective on themselves and the world around them. For more information about our services, call (561) 279-1037.


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