About six years into Gavin Young’s recovery, he still turned to a few vices, like chain-smoking, serial dating and yoga. He found opportunity in CrossFit about three to four years ago, and today, he is a coach for Human Strength — a nonprofit that offers no-cost CrossFit courses for anyone with 48 hours of sobriety. 

Human Strength hosts a weekly course at Fearless Athletics in South Philadelphia and is an extension of the organization of Phoenix MultiSport, which is a nonprofit that opens free gyms for people in recovery across the country.  

Young said he’s still balancing out his love of CrossFit and the priority sobriety has in his life, and he’s trying to avoid skipping 12-step meetings for training sessions. But CrossFit is a constructive outlet that offers him a community of support and a positive thing to be dedicated to.

Melody Schofield coaches the classes with Young. She opened Philadelphia’s Human Strength chapter — which is the biggest so far — 30 days into her recovery a little over a year ago. She said fitness was always a passion for her.

Young said that Human Strength shouldn’t be labeled as an answer to addiction, but rather a healthy supplement. Schofield and Young both agreed that everyone in recovery may not enjoy the class, but those who do are welcomed into a community of similar people with something to look forward to every Saturday afternoon.

Fitness may seem like a blip on addiction’s radar, and it’s not a traditional solution, but the ideology behind it seemed positive to me. I really enjoyed how the conversation our class had with Schofield and Young was based on fitness’s effect on broader addiction concepts, like dual diagnosis.