PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Volunteers are holding free exercise classes in Philadelphia to support people in recovery, encouraging each other to feel stronger than stigma.
A few years ago, Leyla Mortazie wouldn’t have imagined herself at Fearless Athletics in Philadelphia.
“I showed up and I couldn’t believe that I’d been missing out,” Leyla said.
Leyla struggled with addiction since age 14, when an injury ended her dream of playing basketball.
“I felt really depressed,” she told Ukee Washington. “Nothing to live for, as they would say.”
Now she’s 28, almost two years sober, and working out at a free fitness class specifically for people in recovery, no advance signup required.
“They’re free to anybody as long as they have 48 hours sober,” said Gavin Young, a volunteer coach. He has been sober nine years. He sees how exercise can lift people.
“It’s an invigorating thing for people who have spent a lot of time down on themselves,” Gavin said.
A national nonprofit called The Phoenix is establishing these classes in cities across the country.
When gym owner Wil Vicinus heard about it, he volunteered space in his gym. He’s in recovery too.
“It’s not about, ‘Are you a member of a 12-step program? Are you in rehab?’ Any of that,” Wil said. “It’s about, what can we do to support each other so we don’t have to use drugs or alcohol?”
Leyla said, “We’re motivating each other. That’s so helpful. It’s kind of symbolic, but also really literal.”
The free classes are held five days a week.
“But also family members are more than welcome. Significant others are more than welcome. People in the community that hear about what we’re doing,” Gavin said.
“I can feel the joy coming from you,” Eyewitness News anchor Ukee said to Wil. “You’re in a good place right now, aren’t you?”
“I am in a good place,” Wil said. “This is this is my passion.”
Fearless Athletics hosts The Phoenix classes several days a week at their Penn’s Landing location at 126 Race Street:
- Sundays Noon (Yoga)
- Sundays 1 p.m. (CrossFit)
- Mondays 7:30 p.m. (CrossFit)
- Tuesdays 9 a.m. (BootCamp)
- Thursdays 9 a.m. (BootCamp)
On Saturdays at 3 p.m., The Phoenix holds CrossFit classes at the Fearless Athletics South Philly location, 744 South 11th Street.
For additional class information, you can send email to this address.
You can find out more about The Phoenix’s national efforts here.