sober fitness
Boris Schaak

I am so excited to bring you along on an incredible path I have traveled for the past 40 years. This column will be addressing all aspects surrounding a new and exciting fitness process rooted in the spiritual principles of recovery from addiction and alcoholism — aspects like nutrition, spirituality, new methods of fitness training – and all from a whole new perspective. So, I invite you to join me as we trudge the path toward a new fitness revolution!

Yes, I am gung ho about this! And I hope I can generate the same excitement with all of you.

The great thing about this method I am proposing is that it can help anyone even if he or she is not a recovering addict. This program helps those seeking to better themselves by simply haveing them embrace a spiritual practice into their daily workouts. For the purposes of this column I call this “Sober Fitness.” (TM)

Sober Fitness is an approach borne of decades of my own personal experience and many decades and centuries old philosophies I have learned from. These methodologies have been integrated and tailored to help the recovering addict. Why? Because the addict and alcoholic is physically and mentally different than his or her fellows.

Ok, so remember the decades old slogan “No Pain No Gain”? Most everyone in the fitness industry knows this aphorism. For decades “No Pain No Gain” has been the foundation of most every new fitness fad training programs. And these programs have profited billions and changed almost as many people’s lives. But, as with any protocol or medicine, a medicine that works for one person won’t always work for another.

These ego-based modalities call for the individual to bring his or her problems of body image, low self-esteem, rejection, trauma or identity crises to the trainer for healing. Tap in to your sadness, fury, primal rage and anger to become your outwardly best physical self. And it is and has been a fairly successful approach that has financially enriched many a fitness expert, industry professional and guru trainer.

Here is the problem with that for the addict — addiction is a disease of perception. For the addict/alcoholic, embracing and fueling a workout rooted in negative energy further warps his or her disease of perceptions. The process demands the addict harbor this toxic energy from deep within. That creates a dilemma.

Because on one hand – with the recovery-based work with a sponsor or recovery fitness coach, the addict is focused on solutions. Harness the problem in the gym but live in the solution in life.

After a few years in recovery addicts are relieved of the bondage of self. They amend their pasts, free themselves from their resentments and they become present. When this occurs, what then happens with those toxic energy reserves needed for training using these ego-based modalities? Eventually the addict will run out of this reserve of negative energy, because the reserves dry up. This forces the addict to actively embrace and create more negative energy to continue to fuel his or her workouts.

So, he returns to creating drama and storing the problem. For the women it’s usually about getting thin, for the man it’s usually about getting big. They will obsess, making comments like “I am fat.” “My arms are too small.” “Look at my muffin top!” “Do I even have a butt?” To the average every day person who can laugh it off or accept it, this may seem insignificant. But for the addict this starts a cycle of obsession.

And for an addict it’s like a flywheel that spins faster and faster. The addict will never see or accept the result. An addict’s disease of perception will warp the result so that he or she is never satisfied.

From this point, he will likely gravitate to dangerous shortcuts like fad diets, heavier workouts or steroids to achieve the body he imagines will make him happy. What happens is eventually the addict loses steam, and likely will lose focus. He might become depressed. But, he will definitely suffer setbacks and be more prone to injuries. He is looking to get “there” lickety split. When you think about it, the fallacy with this is that there’s no there, there. The addicts’ “there” is a fantasy fueled by their disease of perception.

So, the key here is this — the dilemma isn’t a physical one, it is a spiritual one. And without a spiritual footing from day one the chances of someone grasping this new way of lifting are minimal. But if he does follow this modality – the addict will begin to realize that looking inward through a positive spiritual lens will bring about authentic emotional satisfaction and amazing results physically. He or she can still gain or lose that 30 to 50 pounds using healthier methods, and find great authentic joy along the way. I have seen it time and time again. This is why I am so gung ho! Because I know it works if you work at it. This modality I am proposing is about a state of being, not a specific body result.
What I am advocating for now is a not so new but nonetheless revolutionary change in philosophy. It is about looking inward positively and not imagining outward negatively. Once the addict is grounded in the present moment– their chances of sustained sobriety and physical transformation are exponential.

So how do we get there? That is the purpose of this column. After all: Feeling good is the new looking good!

Join me – regardless of whether or not you are in recovery. There will be something for everyone. I am thrilled to be introducing this topic on a weekly basis to bring a revolutionary approach to how we all Eat, Lift and Pray.

Let’s read and learn together, and if you have any questions, comments or anything you want to know I will gladly work on the issue. You can contact me at and you can follow Sober Fitness on Facebook and Instagram.

Boris Schaak

About The Author:

Boris Schaak, a nationally certified fitness recovery coach, was ranked one of L.A.’s 50 “Best Personal Trainers” on the Los Angeles Hotlist and is a regular trainer at Golds Hollywood. “As a professional trainer and fitness coach, seeing the transformation and growth in my clients physically, emotionally and spiritually is my passion and mission in life,” says Schaak. You can reach him at

2 thoughts on “Sober Fitness with Boris Schaak”

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    Wow, what an amazing article! Interesting take on ego stuff. Finally someone is addressing that in the world of fitness. So timely. Thank you Boris

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