Five Years Sober: Ronald Reyes Credits CrossFit
It all started in high school for Ronald Reyes.
Looking for acceptance and a way to “fit in,” Reyes started skipping class, drinking and smoking pot.
And while it didn’t need to morph into a bigger problem, Reyes, now 55 years old, said it “put the addictive behaviors in place.”
Somewhere along the way, when dealing with a back injury, Reyes got a hold of some painkillers, which sent him down a long road to addiction, one that eventually led to heroin and to Reyes losing his wife and two children.
Since 2006, Reyes tried getting sober multiple times through rehabilitation programs, but they only ever worked for a short period of time.
“I would put together a few months (sober), and then relapse and would be homeless again. It was just like this non-stop vicious cycle, over and over…doing the same thing expecting different results,” he said.
“Sometimes I could maintain it for six, eight months even, but eventually it would have complete control over me and my life would be unmanageable. Every single time,” he added.
And then five years ago, Reyes hit a spiritual and emotional bottom, he explained, where he just felt like he had become “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
The pain he was feeling was so strong that he knew it was time he did something different.
“Pain is the ultimate motivator,” he said.
In the summer of 2021, Reyes was living with a roommate who was into CrossFit and gave Reyes a t-shirt from his gym, CrossFit 845 in Wappingers Falls, NY.
One day, while out and about, Reyes ran into a woman who approached him and inquired, “You do CrossFit?”
“Sometimes,” Reyes replied, lying as his male ego got in the way.
Turns out she was an instructor at a nearby CrossFit gym.
“Maybe I’ll see you there one day,” she told Reyes. That’s when Reyes decided it was time to actually give CrossFit a try.
“That pushed my ass through the door,” he said, laughing. Then he went home and told his roommate, “Anthony, we gotta get on this right away. Like right now.”
Two days later, Reyes did an introductory session at CrossFit 845 and hasn’t looked back.
Today, a year-and-a-half later, Reyes is a staple at CrossFIt 845, and says it has helped him not only stay sober as it has given newfound physical fitness, confidence and ultimately happiness he needs to stay clean.
“When you’re in recovery, there are three components to staying sober: mental, spiritual and physical. Body, mind and spirit, so when I exercise I guess it releases those natural endorphins that make you feel good,” he explained.
Further, similar to AA and NA meetings, there’s “strength in numbers,” he said.
“When I go to CrossFit, everyone is so supportive…I like how nobody cleans up until the last person is done…You just feel like everyone is in it together,” he added.
The Big Picture
Last month, Reyes celebrated his five year sober anniversary, and after falling off the horse a number of times in the past, he knows it’s different this time.
He realizes now that drugs and alcohol weren’t the problem, per se. They were a symptom of the problem, which for him had a lot to do with insecurities he experienced that stemmed from childhood.
Reyes grew up poor and without a father, and it always left him feeling like he wasn’t good enough, he explained.
“How come my parents aren’t here at parent teacher night?” he remembers asking when he was a child. “Or at Christmas time, all my friends have new bikes. Meanwhile my bike was this hunk of shit. And at that age, you just feel like you’re not worth it, you’re not good enough, for some reason,” he said.
“And once I was old enough to drink and do drugs, I felt like all those insecurities went away. So to make a long story short, drugs and alcohol were the answer to the problem,” Reyes explained. But then the next thing he knew, he was a “full-fledged addict” and he still had those insecurities, so now he had two problems.
Being aware of all this now is one of the reasons Reyes has been able to take control of his life, he explained, and remain sober for five years. And this time, he has an additional tool in his toolbox—CrossFit—to help him even more.
“There are three components to staying sober: mental, physical and spiritual,” Reyes reiterated. And he gets all three of those from going to CrossFit 845.
“And I know in my heart that I don’t want do not want to go back down that dark road again,” he said.