Fitness and Recovery

Physical fitness is an essential part of our comprehensive Five Core Competency approach to addiction treatment for young adults and it is incorporated into each of our client’s treatment plans.

Sober College offers a plethora of fitness options, including extramural sports and personalized fitness plans, to meet each of our client’s unique needs. Regular fitness is a critical component of successful recovery and it creates a space for clients to improve themselves presently and set a precedent for fitness in their futures.

Sober College’s advanced Fitness Program offers everything from gym memberships and personal training to diet planning and extramural individual and team sports.

Click the links below to read more about what Sober College has to offer.

Individualized Fitness PlansExtramural Team and Individual SportsPhysical and Mental Benefits of Fitness in Early Recovery
The Bay Club - West HillsOutdoor Sports and ActivitiesMeet Fitness Director Dr. Ken Niemann
Why Fitness for Young Adults in Recovery?

Why is Fitness One of Our Five Core Competencies?

Drug and alcohol abuse take their toll on the body and mind, meaning many entering treatment have sacrificed their physical health for their addiction. By increasing their physical activity, clients have a healthy outlet for stress, anxiety and other stressors during recovery. It combines aspects of the mind and body to provide our clients with therapy that is as fun as it is impactful. Exercise is a critical component successful recovery and is essential to a healthy lifestyle. The habits built at Sober College extend far beyond treatment and into future practices. Regardless of a client’s interest, Sober College makes it possible for our clients to explore and discover the joy of sobriety.

Individualized Fitness Plans

Sober College creates fitness programs unique to every individual. Just as our therapies are designed, physical fitness takes into account each individual’s needs, providing everyone with a fitness program that accommodates their interests and comfort levels. Rather than focus on a standardized fitness program, our Fitness Director works one-on-one with each client to help them develop a fitness and/or diet plan that works for them. Each client will be exposed to a variety of engaging activities designed to challenge them physically and mentally, laying a foundation for a healthy lifestyle for the future.

Our clients have a variety of activities to explore in recovery and Sober College provides a variety of opportunities for them to discover their interests. We encourage clients to try new things and step outside of their comfort zone to learn how enjoyable sobriety can be. As they work through stressful situations, clients can use fitness as a tool to manage the stress that life brings and relish in their accomplishments as they meet their fitness goals.

The West Hills Bay Club

Every client at Sober College is given a gym membership to The West Hills Bay Club and is required to participate in fitness at least five days a week in their first 90 days. Bay Club west hills is a state-of-the-art facility with a number of amenities appeal to all our client’s fitness desires. Bay Club offers fitness classes, basketball, racquet ball, an indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna. In addition, Bay Club offers standard cardio and strength equipment and free weights. Fitness Director, Dr. Ken Neiman, gives personal training sessions and accompanies clients to the club to help them become acclimated.
Click here to learn more about The Bay Club West Hills features and amenities

Extramural Team and Individual Sports

As a young adult-specific rehab, our program is designed to meet the needs of the college-age population. Therefore, Sober College gives clients the opportunity to participate in a number of fitness activities, including competitive individual and team sports. Our clients travel offsite to compete with other top athletes. Fitness in early sobriety helps our clients to repair the damage done physically to their body by addiction while teaching them the confidence to accomplish their goals, which encourages continued participation, setting the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy living. We provide a safe environment for clients to regain interest in sports they may have previously played, or to try something completely new and different.

Team SportsIndividual SportsOutdoor Activities
Lacrosse5-k races. Biathlons, and TriathlonsSky Diving
FootballMuay Thai KickboxingCliff Jumping
Flag FootballIndoor Rock ClimbingMountain Biking
HockeySkiing/SnowboardingHorseback Riding
SoftballRacquetballBeach runs/walks

Team Sports

Fitness And RecoverySober College prides itself on the success of its sports team; clients who participate have the opportunity to travel and compete against other teams in a variety of sports including soccer, football and basketball. Team sports provide an excellent opportunity for clients to build relationships with one another that will help them throughout the recovery process. Teams become a family to clients and provide another layer of support that improves outcomes in long-term sobriety.

Individual Sports

If clients are more interested in individual activities, they have just as many options. Clients can experience surfing, horseback riding or mountain biking. Sober College also participates in 5k races like the Spartan Race and Zombie Run or triathlons. While clients are doing the activity individually, they participate as a group to motivate and encourage one another. It is a great opportunity for clients to push one another and overcome challenges together while simultaneously building and strengthening friendships that will last a lifetime.

Outdoor Sports and Activities

Sports and outdoor activities are great options for those who may find these environments more engaging than the gym. It allows our clients the option to explore new areas outside of their comfort zone and potentially discover new interests and passions, while being good exercise and a source of therapy for people in recovery. Clients encourage and push one another to complete a difficult hike or catch a big wave. Together they complete a challenge while individually pushing their own physical limits on trails in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains, overlooking Malibu Beach. Clients have the option to explore sports as another option for their physical fitness needs in recovery.

Physical and Mental Benefits of Fitness in Early Sobriety

Recovery from addiction is more than the process of abstaining from drug and alcohol use, but also finding ways to manage triggers and time previously used to abuse substances. One way Sober College addresses these challenges is to reengage our clients through physical fitness and health education. Physical fitness provides a number of benefits mentally and physically, including helping our clients gain confidence while reaping the benefits of exercise.

Fitness programs are accompanied by customized diet plans to ensure clients are receiving proper nutrition during their stay. Regular exercise provides a multitude of benefits that will improve physical appearance, self-esteem and overall functioning. Exercise not only improves circulation and strengthens the body, but it also aids in sweating out toxins and increasing energy levels. Since many of our clients struggle with body image and self-esteem, regular exercise allows them to set goals and feel a sense of accomplishment as they are obtained.

Emotional Relief

Fitness is also a great way to deal with anger, stress and other emotions that may have previously driven our clients to abuse substances. Exercise is one method many of our clients choose to use as a means of dealing with stressors in a healthy way. For some, it is also a great way to develop emotional intelligence. Competing in team sports, for instance, allows our clients to develop leadership skills, communication skills and teamwork while staying active. Participating in sports is an experiential therapy in this way, as it provides therapy to our clients without their conscious awareness.

Exercise is an excellent way to heal and strengthen the body and mind. Regardless of the form of exercise our clients choose to engage in, exercise is a vital component of recovery. It provides clients with a sense of structure that encourages them to maintain their practices and committing to a regular workout will take up much of their newfound free time. Exercise can take any form and regardless of its intensity, it is important for young adults to regularly engage in it. Regular exercise has been proven to significantly decrease the likelihood of relapse in young adults. Establishing a regular exercise routine will help clients in managing their time, energy and sobriety making it a critical piece of our holistic approach to recovery.

Meet Fitness Director Dr. Ken Niemann

Dr. Ken Niemann has over 10 years of experience in health, wellness, and nutrition. He is a true inspiration to the clients.

“I consider fitness to be an effective medicine for a recovering addict or alcoholic… I have been sober for 20 years and I am just repeating with the Sober College clients a lot of the same things I did to get sober, and continue to do to stay sober”.
-Dr. Ken Niemann, Sober College Fitness Director

Fitness is an important part of every client’s Sober College experience and therefore requires someone who knows both health and sobriety. Dr. Ken Niemann has been with Sober College since 2006 and works diligently as the head of our athletics department. Ken received his bachelors in Biology from Pepperdine University, while serving as captain of his intercollegiate lacrosse team. Always involved in sports, Ken continued his education and received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree and his M.A. in both Bioethics and Communication.

As fitness Director at Sober College, President of The California Center for Fitness and Functional Medicine and a recovering addict himself, Ken’s passion is teaching young adults how important a healthy body is to a healthy life. Certified as an Emergency Medical Technician, EKG Technician, Personal Trainer and Spin Instructor, Ken creates a safe environment for every Sober College client while pushing them to achieve their fitness goals.

At Sober College Ken outlines the clients’ workout plans, coordinates all the team sports, and provides nutritional advice and diet plans. In the classroom he teaches the CPR certification course and holds a philosophy group on the side. Ken’s experience with fitness, health and sobriety along with his passion for helping young adults achieve sobriety makes him a vital part of our program, as well as our client’s success in life during and after their stay at Sober College.

Why is Fitness Important for Young Adults Today?

Physical fitness has been incorporated in the Five Core Competencies as a way to combat the growing issue of media saturation in young adults’ lives and its impact on physical activity and mental health. Fitness allows our clients an outlet to work through stressors, release endorphins and develop positive body image. For some, it is a great avenue for socialization and developing emotional intelligence as well. It also provides them with a new activity that is healthy and beneficial, filling time previously used for substance abuse.

Fitness is a focus, especially among young adults, because of the way technology can impact levels of physical activity and sleep, thereby increasing the risk for mental health disorders. Often, those with mental health disorders are more at risk to develop substance abuse issues. Studies have shown that young adults who excessively utilize technology, have low physical activity and do not sleep enough make up an invisible group of adolescents at risk for development of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. Although many of these behaviors are not typically associated with mental health risks, these behaviors are somewhat new to the discussion as this generation is more heavily entrenched in technology.

According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association roughly 50% of individuals with severe mental health disorders are affected by substance abuse. Many clients at Sober College struggle with addiction and mental health disorders often referred to as co-occurring disorders. While one does not directly cause the other, there is a higher rate of occurrence of substance abuse in those with mental health issues. Often used to self-medicate symptoms of a mental health disorder, drugs and alcohol and quickly exacerbate symptoms and worsen both physical and mental health.