My name is Evan Zener, I am 28 years old and have been sober for almost 6 years. Sobriety has easily been the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has not been easy, it has taken a lot of work, but its proven far worth it and for me is the only path to having a happy and healthy future. Alcoholics Anonymous, and having a strong support network of positive people in my life get credit for much of my success in staying sober, but one thing that has made a huge impact on my sobriety, something I do not hear talked about enough in the rooms I feel, is fitness. Being sober for me has been so much more than just staying away from drugs and alcohol. Sobriety has been about living the happiest healthiest life possible. Staying active and working on my own physical health has only made me mentally healthier and my sobriety stronger.

Let me tell you a little bit about my story. I had three siblings growing up, a younger sister, an older sister, and a brother that was four years older than me. My brother and I ran together most of our childhood. I was exposed to most things he was just soon after. If he got to watch an inappropriate movie for the first time, I usually saw it just a few days later. Unfortunately, that was the case with marijuana. I was 10 years old the first time I smoked pot and I was immediately obsessed with the idea of getting high. From that day on, I was constantly waiting for the next time I was going to get high. As the years went by I got into different drugs, and the consequences got worse and kept pilling up. I was in constant trouble, but that didn’t slow me down. By 9th grade, I had dropped out of school mid-year and moved out of my parent’s house and was living my girlfriend. I would say in my time using I’ve had a few different rock bottoms, and this was one of them. In no other time in my life did I care less about the idea of killing myself through my drug use. I was just so young, my brain hadn’t developed enough to really care. By the time the school year was up, only a week into summer, my parents tricked me into coming home for a few nights. I was woken up by two people who were taking me away to a boarding school. My parents sent me away. I spent the next two years sent away in four different facilities, in four different states around the US. I honestly believe this saved my life.

I got out of treatment when I was 17 years old. I immediately went back to using and moved out of my parent’s house. One thing had changed though. I had been given time to grow up a little over the years I had been sent away, and no longer wanted to throw my life away. I had every intention to do the right thing but was constantly choosing to do whatever I could to get high. My life continued to spiral out of control, and the consequences kept pilling up and becoming more severe. One thing that I had picked up in my time sent away, the one thing that was positive in my life at the time was fitness. I started working out at the first treatment center I got to, and it stuck with me. I was getting drunk or high every day, but not till after I got to work out. I wanted to feel and do better and at the time working out was the only way I knew how. For the time that I was at the gym, my life was ok. It made all my problems temporarily go away, like drinking did, but better. I loved working out and the way it made me feel.

When I finally hit my complete rock bottom, I threw myself into two things, fitness and AA. From the years of being sent away, I knew how powerful and effective AA was. I didn’t go into AA with some weird idea of what it was all about. I immediately got a sponsor and started working the steps. The gym got better too. I had more energy and got stronger much faster. I was eating better and didn’t have alcohol and drugs in my life destroying all my gains. It was the perfect combo to keep me sober. Being around happy healthy people to feed off of gave me a new perspective. I strongly believe you become like the people you hang out with and the people I had been hanging out with did not lead the lives I wanted to live. Also, fitness gave me a new addiction to feed off of. I am and always will be addicted to something, I just have to make sure its the right things. Fitness has given me the healthy platform to get all my addictive energy out, and if I had not had that outlet, I would not be the person I am today. Now after almost 6 years of being sober, not only has fitness continued to play a powerful role in my life, it has become my career. I’ve been a personal trainer in Portland for 4 years now. I owe so much to the gym and all its done for me.

I think exercise should be apart of everyone’s lives, however you want to do it. Going to the gym, running, biking, whatever. Our bodies were made to be active and I see too many people not taking advantage of it. I especially believe it is important for people who are sober. I believe the more you invest in your sobriety the better chance you have of not giving it up. I think taking the time and working on your own physical health, will enrich all aspects of your life, especially your sobriety.


Evan Zener

Fit-InMotion Personal Training