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MUNCIE, Ind. — A gym for addiction recovery in Muncie is reopening its doors now that Stage 3 of Governor Eric Holcomb’s plans to return from the pandemic is in place. The shutdown forced Big Time Barbell (BTB) to halt all fitness programs and group recovery gatherings.

“I was so worried about a lot of the people that come to our meetings that this is their only hope,” lamented Big Time Barbell Owner Mac Hines.

This Wednesday the gym will hold its first recovery meeting now that small gatherings are also allowed. BTB uses fitness and “Alcoholics Anonymous style” meetings to help people get through their battles with addiction.

“We don’t push abstinence because it’s so hard to just not use, so what we try to do is create a healthy lifestyle where drugs and alcohol don’t fit into the schemes of their life any longer,” explains Hines, “We stayed open until they said we absolutely have to close.”

“Meetings are going to be great mentally, and getting back in the gym,” says member Lucas Prang. “It actually opens up a lot of the endorphins for me. I went through rehab, and I went through an outpatient program as well. I’m only as good as the meetings I go to, and the people I’m around.”

Prang is a month away from celebrating a year of sobriety, so having his main recovery tool cut off by the pandemic became stressful.

“At the same time the loneliness creeps in, and sometimes the mind thinks I might make a phone call, and you have to be tougher than that,” details Prang.

During the shutdown, members could check out equipment to continue working out at home while staff members attempted to hold group meetings on zoom or by phone.

“We had a sign-up sheet. People grabbed some weights from the gym, and I allowed them to take those home,” said Hines. “Just to give them that something, and we wrote several at-home workouts.”

“When you’re used to coming to meetings weekly, and they aren’t there, there’s a big difference,” said recovery member Jack Rhoades. “All at once you’ve lost your job, you’ve lost your meetings, you’ve lost your workout, and it kind of gives you a lot of, ‘What are you going to do with yourself?'”

Rhoades is currently furloughed and has been using this time to stay close to family to maintain his recovery. He says his parents are elderly, and thus at high-risk, so he spends time with his own children.

“I was coming here regularly, and now coming back to see the same people, it’s kind of nice,” said Rhoades. “When you’ve got structure it’s good.”

BTB is open to the public, but a portion of their membership sales go toward sponsoring memberships for people in recovery.