PORTLAND, Ore. — September is National Recovery Month and The Recovery Gym is dedicated to helping people on the path to recovery.
Two years ago, if you'd told J'shon Bryant he'd be a member at a CrossFit gym he wouldn't have believed you. But a run-in with the law changed everything.
"I've been in Portland roughly four years, my first 18 months were in prison," he said. "My next two years were basically here in this gym."
Bryant found The Recovery Gym when he got out of prison and said it changed his life.
The CrossFit gym in Northwest Portland helps people in recovery, from all things like drug or alcohol addiction to mental health disorders.
"In my recovery I always fall back on old behaviors, old ways of thinking and I beat myself up a lot," Bryant said. "So coming to the gym, it shows me that this is about longevity, it's a longer process and it allows me to be secure about myself."
The gym is free for people who seek recovery from substance use or mental health disorders. More than 200 athletes in recovery work out there, using fitness to build strength and community.
"I've never had that, I've never had someone rooting for me," Bryant said.
The gym started in 2019 in partnership with CrossFit X-Factor and the Alano Club. Co-founder Shiloe Allison Aurand said they saw in increase in membership when the pandemic hit.
"I don't think we have truly started to really see how much services like this are needed right now," Aurand said. She's helping her clients by sharing her own story of strength in recovery. "Movement was incredibly healing to me, with an eating disorder," she said. "Through CrossFit, I fell in love with what my body could do."
Bryant said the gym was the only consistent thing for him during the pandemic.
"Having something like that definitely kept me out of some places I could have been," he said. Bryant has been in recovery since January and rarely misses a class. He never expected a CrossFit gym would serve as a personal ray of hope.
"It's a tough time and having something to aim for is not likely really right now," he said. "So the fact that this gym is still here allows me to wake up and have something to look forward to."
Recovery Gym is holding a fundraiser for the rest of the month to help keep their classes and training free for anyone in or seeking recovery.