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Barbell Saves project offers a lifeline to individuals battling substance abuse disorders; peer pressure

The Barbell Saves project is transforming lives and offering a lifeline to individuals battling substance abuse disorders. The nonprofit organization provides free health and wellness classes with lessons about marijuana and drug rehabilitation to anyone with 48 hours of sobriety.

For people emerging from prison or rehab and people starting over, the program addresses more than just physical fitness, addressing aspects of decision-making, peer pressure, and integrity. With inspiring success stories and a strong focus on community and recovery-based support, this initiative is not just changing lives; it's building a resilient community. 

“Healing the body to save the mind” is the motto and mission behind the Barbell Saves Project.

The program has seen numerous successes, with individuals coming to the program having needed a fresh start. The program focuses on community time and recovery during each session. The organization has developed coaches and staff members. Every coach employed by the organization has a story to tell because they have experienced substance abuse.

“We have a wide variety of individuals; some of our folks are fresh out of prison or fresh out of a rehab facility,” said Tammi Saunders, the team's head coach.

Coaches, team members, and staff members are developed within the Barbell Saves community located in Phoenix.

"This is this one guy who literally was two weeks out of prison,” Saunders said. "He came in and he’s never left, and now he is shadowng with me to be a coach, so it really is life-changing and gives hope to people.”

Recovery can be difficult, and when its not about the physical sport aspect, mental well-being plays a vital role in motivating people to step into the facility and continue with the program. Classes begin with recovery-based questions, where participants talk about their personal road to recovery.

"I don't really focus on people doing the movements perfectly,” said coach Brittany Reppert. “As long as you are not going to hurt yourself and you are moving your body, I think that's good enough.” 

Reppert is just one of the success stories that have opened up to share her journey and progress in recovery. “I was an IV drug user, and now I just help people, and I'm not the only one,” she said. She said the Barbell Saves Project “saw something in (her) and encouraged (her) to keep going.” “I ended up from being a homeless drug addict in and out of prison to having my own home now,” she said. “I have a really good job, and I see my kids now and am part of their lives.”

The project plans to further its growth by expanding its programs and services. Talks about expanding their youth program, forming partnerships with probation departments and providing fitness and education in prisons demonstrate their commitment to changing lives. 

Amanda Hoskin, the project’s operations manager, said that unlike a typical CrossFit class, the point of community time is to connect and be able to relate to each other and build that community.

The Barbell Saves Project is not just a fitness program; it’s a beacon of hope and transformation for individuals struggling with substance abuse and other troubles, proving that recovery is possible through unity, determination and the power of community.

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