The Phoenix Gym has very few requirements for walking through its doors. This not-for-profit fitness franchise, now with locations in 14 cities nationwide, requires no down payment, no monthly dues, and not even a new member orientation. “If you're 48 hours sober, you can come in,” reminded founder Scott Strode, at his Boston-area location last month, in a feature with New England Central News.

Strode knows, from personal experience, that the most difficult part of making a decision to commit to a new, clean, and sober life, can be walking through a door, and the Phoenix Gym pledges to make its doors as wide open and welcoming as possible.

The motto of the Phoenix Gym is “Rise, Recover, Live,” and beyond the walls lined with the best in fitness equipment, is the constant willingness of Strode and those who work and work out at the program to listen, to hear, and to be living testaments to the fact that there is hope after addiction. Ruston Kelly has also evoked redemptive vision through addiction.

Scott Strode, and several former and current clients who are discovering the purpose and power of rising through recovery from addiction, were profiled in an October 11 “CBS This Morning” segment for “A More Perfect Union.”

From start to finish

Anyone who has ever stood at the side of a friend, loved one, or family member, in the life battle of addiction, becomes very familiar with the knowledge that the road to recovery is anything but straight.

There can be many rock bottoms before genuine will and resolve begin to take over. Dropping in on an AA meeting gives credence to the process of replacing a life-stealing behavior with a less deadly one. The abundance of coffee, cigarettes, and recently, vaping, verify it.

The full community at Phoenix Gym celebrates the remarkable, “one day at a time” milestones of success.

This includes the six weeks’ sobriety for Arrow, who is certain that he would be back on the streets if not for his new home and support system. Dresden is another new member, who says that her newfound fitness family is “always there to give me a hug.”

Scott Strode is now past 21 years of sobriety and started to see his own transformation from within.

He worked out with sober partners in fitness and boxing, gained self-esteem and self-confidence, and slowly shed the need for other substances. “I'm thankful for this tribe,” he tells the crew surrounding him, who are all wearing shirts emblazoned with “Stronger than stigma.” The founder estimates that 26,000 people have been helped with recovery through his nonprofit initiative.

Changing horizons by channeling help

Dana Smith was serving time in an Illinois prison when she first saw Scott Strode on TV. She was convicted of a fatal DUI. Jeremy Calvert also bailed his new girlfriend out of jail after a DUI. The only absolution that comes to Smith, is through “helping others like I was helped, and listening to them the way people listened to me.”

After serving out her sentence, Smith came to Denver for training and is now a program manager for Phoenix Gyms.

She gushed that “I'm thankful my daughter will be raised with this Phoenix family,” as her offering of thanks after nine years of sobriety under the fitness program’s philosophy. Scott Strode describes his addiction as being trapped in a burning building, and he could have no peace while knowing that there were others like him trapped by the same doomed fate. Through his mission to pay his new start forward with Phoenix Gyms, untold lives will be spared from the flames of addiction.