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How This Recovering Addict Helps Others Stay Sober With Free Gym Memberships

This is awesome. She admits her gym is 'not profitable' yet but is raising money for the program online.

Warning: The Instagram posts featured in this story contain language some may find offensive.

At age 24, Krissy Cagney had a wake-up call. Lying in a hospital bed in Southern California after a six-day bender, she couldn’t remember anything from the previous few days. Her doctor told her she was unlikely to live much longer if she continued her destructive use of alcohol and cocaine.

Hearing that harsh reality in 2013 helped Cagney get on the right track. However, the beginning of her sobriety was lonely. She’d worked as a personal trainer since her teens and found comfort at her gym. “It’s the only thing that had power over the substance abuse,” she recently told Nevada’s KTVN-TV.

As a result, fitness has played an integral role in her recovery.

My girl @ricebowll just tagged me in a post about flaws. Perfect timing as I started a blog about self improvement today, and the first step is identifying flaws. My list of flaws used to be really ugly and long. But I regcogized them, addressed them, and rectified them. And guess what? Im still a little flawed! But I'm self aware and I'm actively working on them. Here are the ones that instantly came to mind: ▫️ I'm stubborn. I work too much. I almost always act before I think. I'm incredibly impatient. I say stuff I don't mean when I'm angry (which thankfully isn't often these days). I don't text anyone back. I'm very forgetful to the point where it drives my staff insane daily. I don't drink enough water. I never shut the fuck up. I am overly transparent a lot of the time, to a fault. I don't no how to say "no" to people. I do more nice things for others than I do for myself. I am terrible at time management. I drive too fast. I cuss too much. I take things very personally. I procrastinate REAL hard. I repeatedly take on more than I know I can handle. ▫️ Yep! I'm a human with issues. So are you. Let's all work on our bullshit and be a little better tomorrow. And the next day. 📸 by @ericalivoti

A post shared by Krissy Mae Cagney (@krissymaecagney) on

Along the way, Cagney realized something many recovering addicts have discovered: it’s tough to do it alone.

In 2015, Cagney opened Black Iron Gym, a 6,000-square foot facility with group fitness classes, counseling and more, located in Sparks, Nevada. The gym welcomes anyone who is serious about pursuing their goals, not just in CrossFit or powerlifting, but also in making significant life changes.

Today, Cagney helps other recovering addicts through her business. “I changed and became someone new,” she shared in an Instagram post last year. “Someone with compassion, ambition, and self love. If I can do it, so can you.”

Sobriety is a hell of a thing. I personally don't have many pictures prior to four years ago because I try not to dwell on that dark time of my life. My memories cause enough pain at times, I don't need photographic evidence. But every now and again I come across something that reminds me who I used to be. The picture on the left was roughly 5 years ago (I can't remember exactly, the years of substance abuse have caused some damage in the memory department of my brain). I was a raging alcoholic and I drank more whisky than water. I would show up to events drunk… in fact, I was drunk in this picture at a bootcamp I was teaching around 11am. I was a complete mess. I was supposed to be someone who people admired in the fitness industry, but I entirely let myself go in pursuit of alcohol and other substances. Beyond being overweight, I was completely fucking empty inside with no goals or ambitions. I got sober on May 28, 2013 and to this day it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. Obviously you can see the change in my physical appearance in these two photos, but what you can't see is what happened to my soul and mind. I changed and became someone new. Someone with compassion, ambition, and self love. If I can do it, so can you.

A post shared by Krissy Mae Cagney (@krissymaecagney) on

Giving Hope

Her latest goal with Black Iron Gym is to go beyond physical fitness and provide a safe, supportive environment for people just like her. In fact, she offers free memberships to recovering addicts with her Reps 4 Recovery program. They can come for a workout or just talk in a safe space.

Cagney also provides donated athletic attire to those who can’t afford their own.

Getting Help

Since announcing her Reps 4 Recovery program, Cagney and Black Iron Gym have been overwhelmed with interest. In March 2017, she created a GoFundMe page to make up for the lack of membership fees. Since then, the fundraiser has collected more than $87,000 in donations, with a stated goal of $120,000.

You can learn more about the program in the video below.

Potentially losing money on her business in pursuit of helping addicts is something Cagney seems fine with.

“I refuse to turn people away and in order to expand the program, hire help and bring in more recovery warriors, I need you to help me (and my amazing staff who makes this all possible) offset the cost of providing free training, equipment, coaching, group talk, programming, software and clothing,” she shared on her GoFundMe page.

In a recent Instagram post, she actually admitted Black Iron Gym is “not profitable” and that her mind for charitable giving makes her “bad at” running the business. But there are likely plenty of recovering addicts who’d disagree.

I really need your help today. Click the link in bio, learn about @reps4recovery, and see what I’m all about. ••• I don’t talk about being a gym owner enough. You see me in @BlackIronGymNV, but you never see me talk about it. Why? Because it’s the thing I am “bad at”. It’s not profitable… and it’s also ironically the one use to give back (leave it to me to use the business that’s ALWAYS in the red, to give back😂😂). I’m giving its services away for free. And I don’t care if it profits, as it serves a special purpose. •• Its special purpose: it’s the home to the @Reps4Recovery program. I give free memberships to recovering addicts and alcoholics, as I fall into that category. When I was less than 2 years sober, the gym saved my life. It was my safe place I could always go to. I want to give that back to people. Giving is something I am good at and now that @reps4recovery is officially official, I’m going to start sharing with it you guys more. •• So since I’m too worried about giving out free memberships to people who need them, I’m not worried about the financial well being of the gym and we are struggling really hard. This also prevents me from handing out more free memberships. We need to hire three more people to help run this program, and we can’t. I need to be able to give out more free memberships, and I can’t. I need to be able to appropriately pay my staff who helps me coach these people, and I’m barely able to do that. We need funding. We need your help. I would like to convert Black Iron Gym into a nonprofit organization by the end of the year. I need funding in order to make this dream come true. ••• Please click the link in bio to see what I do. Please please please watch the 6mim video @GoFundMe did on me. This is so important. @crossfit •• 📸 @chrismstanton

A post shared by Krissy Mae Cagney (@krissymaecagney) on

So far, she has helped more than 100 people in their recovery journeys and hopes to continue helping many more. In as little as six months, Cagney says most members have made significant progress and are able to begin paying regular monthly dues.

What do you think of Cagney’s idea? Would you support it?