BOISE, Idaho — A lot of people put exercise on the top of their priority list, but one gym in Boise focuses on more than just physical strength. The Phoenix promotes a sober active lifestyle where those in recovery can work out, socialize and find support -- all for free.
Before every exercise class gets started at The Phoenix , the group gathers around in a circle where they share their names, a fun fact about themselves, and go over the house rules, so even first-timers know exactly what to expect. Then -- like at any other gym -- they get their sweat on.
The only true rule at The Phoenix requires members to have at least 48 hours of sobriety before walking through the doors.
"They could have two days sober or they could have 20 years," Yoga instructor and team member Tabitha Martin said. "So sometimes I am at service, and sometimes members are helping me with their experience in recovery."
"We're here to support anybody who has had an issue with Substance Use Disorder in their past, or chooses to live a sober life," chapter manager Scott Jones explained.
Team members like Reed Wojick credit the relationships built within the walls of The Phoenix with providing the strength and support needed to stay sober.
"I've been in recovery for about a year and a half now," Wojick said. "I don't think I would be sober for as long if I didn't have the Phoenix."
Wojick still remembers the feeling she had when walking through the doors for the first time. "I was obviously, like, extremely shocked that people were really happy and involved and everyone was enjoying themselves, and I really wanted to know how to be like that."
But now, a year later, she's the one strengthening others. "I'm more of a person here to help the newcomers; so if there's someone new that comes in, we welcome them, help them out, and sometimes there's a day where we just talk to them and it's not all about the work out, it's about helping them," Wojick explained.
Team member and yoga instructor, Tabitha Martin, says the welcoming atmosphere also plays a huge part in her recovery, amazed to see newcomers step out of their comfort zone to give The Phoenix a shot.
"I wasn't social, so whenever I see that person coming through the door and they are open about maybe they just have a few days [of sobriety], I'm just amazed and happy that they're here and trying something new," Martin said.
And it's right on those yoga mats where supportive, sober friendships are born.
"Everyone's pretty much a solid friend, everyone gets really tight knit here," Wojick said. "People think sobriety's going to be boring or dull, but The Pheonix makes people realize that recovery and being sober can be really fun."
"I've literally seen after a workout a group of our folks discussing, 'Hey, who wants to go to dinner tonight afterwards?' or, "Let's go get smoothies,' or 'There's a meeting,' whatever those things are," Jones explained.
The Phoenix also partners with local groups like the VA and the Idaho Department of Correction to host workout classes with local veterans and inmates living in re-entry centers as a way to connect them with like-minded people in their community and provide resources they can continue using upon release.
"You get that benefit from the exercise, and then you're with peers that you can relate to, and then at the end it's just high fives and you're connected and had a great work out - and it just feels like the world is a little less heavy at the end of each work out," Martin said.
The Phoenix is a non-profit, so members don't pay a thing to get involved. They provide yoga mats, weights, bikes and all equipment needed for each class.
They receive their funding through grants, donations and fundraisers. If you want to learn more or make a donation click here .