For WHC Crossfit, addiction-recovery workout class is personal |

For WHC Crossfit, addiction-recovery workout class is personal

The WHC Crossfit family — from left, Robbie Roberts, Angie Roberts, Ashley Vasquez and Sam Vasquez — and Erik Plate of The Health Partnership are bringing The Phoenix to Craig, a sober active community that operates nationwide.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Robbie Roberts knows intimately the power and pain of addiction.

Roberts, who co-owns WHC Crossfit with his wife, Angie, his daughter, Ashley Vasquez, and Ashley’s husband, Sam Vasquez, experienced substance use disorder from the inside.

Roberts has struggled himself, and he knows directly the impact of community and acceptance in coming out of addiction and into clarity and health.

Moreover, the family has lost loved ones and even a gym member to the tragic potential final consequence of addiction. This is personal.

So the opportunity to host a sober, recovery-focused workout community at the Yampa Avenue gym is one for which the family is extremely grateful.

“We want to give folks a safe place where they can come, better themselves and help change the structure of their lives,” Robbie Roberts said. “That’s what we want to offer the community.”

WHC Crossfit is set to host its first installment of a weekly class Saturday in affiliation with The Phoenix, a national sober active community that works with gyms across the country to bring its program to local communities.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” Sam Vasquez said. “We’ve got family members that have passed. I’ve struggled in the past. It’s something we want to do to help the community. This is a tough spot, this part of Colorado. It’s a big deal, substance abuse here. We’re blessed enough to have the opportunity to be gym owners, and we want to use it.”

The process has taken about a year, interrupted in part by COVID-19, which in itself drove home the need for something of this nature in Craig.

“When COVID hit, we were shut down and we struggled,” Angie Roberts said. “We had a member who was coming here and he struggled with addiction. We saw him slacking a bit, not answering phone calls, and he passed. He was so alive. We loved him. That gave us that push — that last kick we needed to get started.”

A partnership with a local recovery professional made it all click into place. Erik Plate, the recovery team supervisor for The Health Partnership in town, had access to the audience the gym needed to make this really happen.

“Erik stepped forward and he’s so excited, and that bore witness to us that it’s going to happen,” Robbie Roberts said. “People step up.”

Plate, a Crossfit adherent himself already, was thrilled to be involved.

“These guys are awesome,” Plate said of the WHC family. “I’m so happy to do it with (them). People having compassion surrounding recovery — I grew up here, Ashley and I grew up here, and we know this town. A lot of: Drink; work in the mine; or both. That’s changing. Recovery is a big thing here and it’s slowly getting bigger. To do this with these guys is great.”

The key, the group says, is community.

“In the drug culture, you accept everybody for a bad thing,” Robbie Roberts said. “Hopefully, we can accept everybody with a positive thing.”

Angie Roberts pointed out that a sense of belonging — so often withheld by society from folks embroiled in addiction — is critical.

“That sense of community and belonging — everybody needs to feel they belong somewhere,” she said. “I believe this is going to be of belonging for people.”

Ashley Vasquez is a nurse and said she sees the impact of substance abuse close up on a regular basis.

“I see a lot of it in the community,” she said. “I just want to give people — it’s laid on our hearts, and we stepped into the Steamboat class (of the Phoenix) and it was amazing. They brought the community together, it’s an outlet, and it’s something positive to look forward to. Lifting weights is huge, a release of adrenaline. People who are addicts are addicted to adrenaline, and you can get that from positive things, too.”

For Vasquez and the rest of the family, the opportunity is one that sparks enormous gratitude.

“This is another tool, and the more tools you have to work with, the more successful they’ll become,” Angie Roberts said.

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