It is easy to become overwhelmed when you undergo addiction treatment and begin your journey to recovery. Every day in inpatient rehab is packed with individual counseling and group therapy sessions, along with alternative modalities or experiential therapy sessions — all focused on the goal of helping you beat addiction and overcome your personal obstacles to getting sober. This concentrated focus can be very effective, but it can also be all-consuming. Wouldn’t it be great if there were an aspect of your treatment program that allowed you to forget about addiction for a few minutes and focus on something else? Enter … CrossFit training. In recent years, the addiction treatment and recovery communities have started incorporating CrossFit training into addiction recovery programs as a way to divide a client’s focus between two sets of goals that are mutually beneficial: getting sober and getting fit.
How CrossFit and Addiction Treatment Work Together
Addiction recovery isn’t easy — no surprise there. Neither is CrossFit. Both disciplines challenge a person to push themselves beyond their comfort zone to achieve their goals. As it turns out, they are the perfect partners to achieving success in both areas. “I have found for myself and my clients that the physical challenges of CrossFit support the emotional and psychological challenges of recovering from addiction,” says Tiffany Deer, a recovery advocate and CrossFit coach at The Right Step in Wimberly, Texas. “Using CrossFit as a complementary discipline to addiction recovery works well because it requires focus and provides a positive distraction from the rigors of the addiction treatment program.” Deer explains that she is there to motivate clients to reach their fitness goals and also to support them in their recovery with lots of encouragement. “Through physical training they learn to be fighters and not to give up, which is a powerful message that carries over to the more emotional or psychological aspects of their treatment program,” she says. Deer finds that for many people at The Right Step, CrossFit and the personal goals they set within the workout program give them a tangible sense of accomplishment that propels them forward. “It can be a relief for someone who has just had a tough counseling session to come to Crossfit, work out with the group, and just let their stress drop away,” says Deer. “It is rewarding to see that as people push themselves through the physical challenges of CrossFit, they not only feel less stress, but they start to feel stronger and more empowered about embracing adversity and achieving things they didn’t think were possible. They learn to push through stuff.”
What Is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a high-intensity customized workout designed to improve fitness and health. It incorporates elements of several different types of exercise — gymnastics, weightlifting, rowing and running — and involves performing a series of constantly varying functional movements at fairly high intensity. CrossFit can deliver dramatic physical results fairly rapidly because it requires you to maximize the amount of work you do in a short amount of time. The CrossFit coach records each participant’s progress toward their individual fitness goals as they advance through the program. Although progress is recorded, CrossFit sessions are meant to be motivating, not competitive. The overall aim is to help people build a sense of both individual strength and a sense of community with other participants as they push toward results. “The CrossFit program is a great complement to recovery because it trains participants to be ready to tackle new physical challenges,” says Deer. “The program is always varied, always changing — and this means they have to be ready for the unknown. This transfers beautifully to what is needed for successful recovery.” Although CrossFit is challenging, it is suitable for different fitness levels. Load and intensity is scaled to each individual, so anyone can enjoy the program and progress through achievable goals. “Even I was apprehensive about CrossFit at first, but I found that the more I did it, the more I fell in love with it,” says Deer. “Now I love to see how anyone can use CrossFit to balance their body, mind and spirit, and to set measurable and sustainable goals, which is so important in early addiction recovery.”