Community

The Phoenix Expands to Canada

October 10, 2021 by
Photo Credit: The Phoenix
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The Phoenix, a non profit organization that offers a sober active community to thousands across the United States, has moved into Canada. On October 25,  All Level CrossFit in Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit, MI, will hold their first class affiliated with the organization, offering a workout to anyone meeting The Phoenix’s cost of membership: 48 hours of sobriety. 

One big thing: This move to Canada may be the first of many international expansions for The Phoenix. 

  • “Our goal is to make our organization accessible in any country,” said Gavin Young, Sr. Partnership and Engagement Manager for the organization. “Right now the focus is expansion north-ward to Canada and we want to make that a focus in 2022.”
  • However, we also want to evaluate chapters in other countries as well to see how we can support growth elsewhere around the world,” he added. 

Remind me: The Phoenix offers sober communities through a range of activities, including CrossFit, yoga, running, biking, and book clubs. The only cost, for each class, is 48 hours of continuous sobriety. 

  • Since 2006, the organization has collected over 58,000 members in their sober communities, reaching 30 U.S. states. 
  • It is not required to be in recovery to attend a class affiliated with The Phoenix, but the nonprofit, which they say offers a “welcoming, safe and supportive community to recover and heal,” has been particularly impactful with addiction recovery communities. 

Moving North: The Phoenix “accidentally became international” when COVID forced their programs to go virtual. 

  • “We had planned to start piloting our virtual offering in Q1 of 2020. Right as the pandemic hit and quarantine shut down in-person programs around the country we were able to stand up our full suite of virtual classes within 48 hours. By pivoting into the virtual space, allowed us to become international… people from Canada started viewing our content and attending classes,” he explains.

While launching a new chapter of The Phoenix in Detroit, Young realized Windsor was visible from the city. Attempting to plan for a non-COVID world, he sent an email out to some affiliates in Canada, hoping there would be a way, in the future, for people from Windsor to attend The Phoenix classes in Detroit. 

Instead, John Mack, the owner of All Level CrossFit, reached out about hosting classes in Windsor. 

The details: Now an affiliated gym with The Phoenix, Mack and his team will host regular, free workouts for anyone meeting that 48-hour sobriety mark. 

  • “As a gym, [The Phoenix] resonates with us because we have a coach who did battle substance abuse and used CrossFit as a way of pulling herself out of that,” Mack said. This coach, Kerry Jach, will be leading The Phoenix classes at All Level.
  • “If you saw Kerry and knew Kerry… she’s a ridiculous athlete. She’s 50 years old and missed qualifying for the games by like 20 spots. To know she was at a rock bottom point and CrossFit was one of the things that have helped her get out of that, I think that’s a powerful story to share,” Mack continued.

Mack says the classes will be structured with accessible and fun workouts and hopes to pull in participants from all areas of his community, not just those in recovery. 

  • John has identified Windsor as an area of need,” Young says. “He understands this exercise methodology and our organization’s goal of creating community through exercise is a very effective tool.”
  • “I know specific members who have battled addiction and who are still in whatever programs they’re in … there are people that this resonates with and this is something that hits close to home for most people,” Mack said. 

“I think [The Phoenix] will spread in Canada,” he continued. “I think once they get the ball rolling, there’s going to be so many others.”

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