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Benefits of Exercise for People in Recovery: 12 Gyms and Personal Trainers in Los Angeles

exercise for people in recovery
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Best Places to Exercise for People in Recovery in Los Angeles

Exercise has many positive benefits for our bodies, particularly for people in recovery. The simple act of moving your body can affect the success of your recovery treatments. Up to 60% of people who undergo rehab for a substance use disorder will use that substance again within a year. Researchers continue to look for ways to lower that number, and it’s now understood that exercise can be a healthy substitute for drug and alcohol use. Regular exercise can help people avoid relapse, and although that link is still not fully understood, there is growing evidence that exercise helps keep a person sober. And exercise can even be fun! There are multitudes of fitness programs and facilities in Los Angeles waiting to be discovered. 

The Importance of Exercise for People in Recovery

Experts in the field of addiction now think that exercise can act as a stand-in for addictive substances in your brain. That’s because when you exercise it activates the same chemical messengers in your brain, which tell the part of your brain that controls positive encouragement that you’re doing a good thing. Drugs and alcohol also activate this system, which is what makes them physically and psychologically addictive. Our brains are hard-wired to do the things that produce these chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine. Attending a fitness class or workout session also allows you to complete small, achievable goals and that can boost self-esteem. Here are a few ways exercise can help you feel better.

  • Reducing stress. If you’ve been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder, especially if it is alongside a co-occurring disorder, you’re no stranger to stress. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and keeps your attention in the present. This improves mindfulness when you are focused on the here and now and not worried about the past or future.
  • You’ll sleep better. Regular exercise improves the quality and length of sleep, and we know that sleep is crucial to good health. 
  • You’ll feel better too. Exercise releases endorphins. During the first days and weeks of your recovery your brain is re-learning how to feel good without drugs or alcohol and you may struggle to feel happy. Exercise helps your brain feel better!
  • Pep in your step. You might be feeling lethargic and tired during your recovery. Exercise does consume energy but it also returns it to our bodies. If you exercise regularly you’ll have more energy.
  • Relapse prevention. You’ve put your heart and soul into the recovery process, and have accomplished so many great things for yourself in therapy. Regular exercise is shown to help people stay in recovery by keeping depression and anxiety at tolerable levels. 

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

But where should you start? That’s a great question, and it depends on what motivates you. Gyms can be incredibly intimidating for people who are new to fitness, it is tough not to feel shy and awkward around people who are used to exercising. But you are capable, you’ve completed rehab, and you’re strong and resilient. Most people who go to the gym are looking at themselves in the mirror, and not you, so don’t feel uncomfortable. One of the key factors to staying in recovery is community support, and group fitness classes are an excellent way to stay motivated. Before you know it you’ll have a group of gym friends who will encourage and celebrate you! Let’s discuss some of the most popular types of workouts and gyms in Los Angeles.


Riding a bicycle uses the largest muscle groups in the body — the legs, and glutes. It’s also an excellent cardio workout that is customizable to any fitness level, as you control the amount of tension. Spin classes are high-energy, fun, and upbeat. Here are a few gyms in Los Angeles that offer spin classes:

Personal Training

Personal training is a popular option for those who aren’t comfortable exercising in a class, or by themselves. A personal training session ensures you have 100% of your trainer’s attention for the entire duration. The composition of each session will vary as your trainer customizes the workout based on your individual needs. The following personal trainers are highly recommended on Yelp:

  • The Training Loft offers endless workout possibilities and complimenting wellness therapies like massage and nutrition counseling
  •  Ultimate Performance offers world-class trainers, data-backed and evidence-based programs, and also virtual training sessions
  • Royal Personal Training offers over 40 personal trainers for you to choose from

High-Intensity Interval Training

Hiit, also known as boot-camp-style exercise classes, gives you the most bang for your buck with short, intense bursts of activity followed by a rest period. You’ll get your sweat on by attending Hiit classes! They’re also infinitely customizable, meaning there’s an exercise for every level of activity. Check out these Hiit gyms:

Yoga and Pilates

Does it ever feel that you’re the only person you know in LA that isn’t doing Yoga? There are good reasons why people love yoga and pilates, and that’s because it has incredibly positive effects on your body and mind. Mindfulness, stretching, and strengthening are something both these activities share. Here are some of the top studios in Los Angeles:

  • 5 Star Pilates private, semi-private, and group pilates classes 
  • One Life Yoga in-person and live stream classes, mornings, afternoons, and evenings
  • Yoga House first session is complimentary

Dance Fitness

Moving your body to music is a joyous experience! If you hate exercise, dance fitness may be the key to finding a physical activity you enjoy. There’s a type of dance for every fitness level. Here are some of the most popular dance fitness studios:

There are so many options for exercise and fitness in Los Angeles we can’t list them all here. Keep trying different activities until you find the one that keeps you coming back for more. Check out your local rec center for personal training and exercise classes as a budget-friendly option. 

Other Considerations for People in Addiction Recovery

Exercise isn’t the only thing you’ll need to consider when recovering from addiction. You’ll also need to eat nutritious and healthy meals, maintain good sleep hygiene, practice mindfulness, and continue to attend therapy. Peer support from an aftercare organization like Narcotics Anonymous or SOS will be crucial in keeping you accountable and feeling supported in your recovery. Surround yourself with love and positivity, and make sure to be kind to yourself.  

Find Individualized Care at Magnolia Recovery of LA

We are proud to offer a holistic approach to the treatment of substance use disorders, treating not just the body but the mind and spirit. Our therapies are evidence-based and trauma informed, our expert staff will work with you to choose the right program components for your unique needs as an individual. But the first step in your path to recovery must be made by you, contact us today. Our admissions staff are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions, and we accept many different types of insurance. You are more capable than you know!


  • As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.

Magnolia Recovery… A Special Place to Learn and Heal

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Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. Before making any decisions on your physical or mental health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Magnolia Recovery Center will work with our patients on a custom diagnosis and care plan. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients while in our care.