First-of-its kind ‘recovery gym’ expands in Minneapolis

First-of-its kind ‘recovery gym’ expands in Minneapolis

First-of-its kind ‘recovery gym’ expands in Minneapolis

A first-of-its-kind “recovery gym” in Minneapolis is celebrating a major expansion.

Twin Cities Wellness Center and Recovery Gym along North Second Street in north Minneapolis held an open house for health care providers and the community Thursday.

The center first opened about two years ago under founder and CEO Crystal Hill.

Hill battled addiction for years and served two separate prison sentences for drug possession.

She said she found new purpose in her life while going through boot camp during her second incarceration in 2016.

“I knew then that fitness would be a part of my recovery for the rest of my life,” Hill said. “It takes all of the negative things that I have going in my head, and all that stuff goes, whoosh! And then I’m rejuvenated, you know? And I can take on more. I know that if it’s working for me, I feel like it could work for other people.”

Hill initially opened the site with 3,300 square feet of gym space.

It is now tripling in size to about 8,500 square feet, featuring a new pickleball court, basketball hoop and studio space for yoga, aerobics and martial arts.

The center is exclusively for people battling substance abuse. Many of the clients are also dealing with mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

The personal trainers are licensed alcohol and drug counselors.

“We see a lot of people addicted to meth, opiates, specifically fentanyl and heroin,” said Jordan Horniak, licensed alcohol and drug counselor supervisor. “Some of our clients are coming in injured, with specific mobility issues, withdrawing or ill. We try to meet them where they’re at.”

Horniak said clients attend five to six hours of programming per day, which includes more traditional chemical dependency therapies, along with exercise sessions.

“It’s very unique. In fact, there’s no other intensive outpatient program doing the same thing in the state of Minnesota for sure. And to be honest, I don’t even know that it’s done in any other state,” Hill said.

Hill is now eight years sober and believes exercise can be extremely effective for those in treatment.

“When you’re exercising and eating right, your body releases dopamine into the brain, just like the way they experience it when they’re using drugs,” Horniak said. “It’s a feel-good neurotransmitter, so it makes their mood improve and they feel more motivated. People get motivated and it helps support their recoveries.”

By next week, almost 80 people will have graduated from the program.

With the new expansion, they will now be able to serve up to 96 people at a time.

“It makes me really, really grateful and proud,” Hill said. “We’re doing something right.”