A new fitness organization that aims to help those struggling with addiction is bringing their programming online in an effort to reach more people.
Since the start of the pandemic, many were forced to isolate with very little in-person interaction. People who are battling anxiety, depression, substance abuse and behavioral addictions were encountering increased mental health and substance use challenges.
Sober Active NYC has been holding free weekly socially distant workout sessions in Central Park followed by 12-step meetings since July. This month, Sober Active NYC is planning to launch daily virtual gatherings and a broader range of activities to connect with more people each week.
“At the heart of Sober Active NYC is a community of support,” says Tom Shanahan, Co-Founder and President of Sober Active NYC. “People are facing seemingly insurmountable pressure and stress during the pandemic, when they feel alone, and are struggling with their addictions. Trauma is an underlying and common factor for most people in recovery, so we want to give them a place to transform any negative, harmful thoughts into positive growth and help them to live mentally – and physically – healthier lives. By combining fun beginner workouts with a 12-step meeting, we are providing non-addictive, healthy coping tools and sustainable fellowship to those New Yorkers in need.”
Each class opens with a workout session, whether yoga, boxing, karate, Pilates, meditations, CrossFit, Body Pump, or another form of exercise. Afterward, the instructors, many of whom have faced addiction issues themselves, or another participant will share their personal stories of growth and resilience, and then lead participants through a 12-step meeting.
The only requirement to participate is that a person must be 48 hours clean from any substance or compulsive or abusive behavior. All classes are free but require signups to limit the number of attendees to comply with social distancing. Each workout is posted on Sober Active NYC social media sites after they take place.
“Fitness was my ticket out of addiction. Every rep in the gym takes me further away from the old days of substance abuse. Fitness has played a major role in my sobriety and for so many others,” said David Barton, New Yorker, fitness icon, and advisor to Sober Active NYC. “I am thrilled to support Sober Active NYC and help it expand to as many New Yorkers as possible.”
This fall, Sober Active NYC will be bringing their programming online and adding more activities to their classes, such as boxing, meditative walks, paddle boarding and more. In the months to come, Sober Active NYC will expand their workouts to all five boroughs, offer workouts in English, Spanish and Mandarin, and host workouts in collaboration with local nonprofits in the city’s low-income neighborhoods.
“Sober Active NYC provides a safe space for people interested in integrating self-care into their recovery. Everyone needs non-addictive, healthy coping mechanisms right now. By getting people out of their apartments to workout with us in parks, isolation is reduced and interaction and fellowship with other healthy-minded people is increased. This dramatically reduces rates of anxiety, depression, relapse and even suicide,” said Shanahan. “It’s about developing healthy habits and coping mechanisms to get through the pandemic sober and healthy.”
Stay up to date on Sober Active NYC on their Facebook page.