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DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver fitness program helps people who have struggled with addiction and are trying to get on the road to recovery.

Mark McIntosh is the founder of A Stronger Cord, and when a CBS4 crew was at the gym this week he chanted out their mantra in a huddle with participants: “One will be overpowered, two can defend themselves, but a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

The goal is to have participants, who refer to themselves as “knuckleheads,” lift weights and do other fitness exercises with others who are going through similar struggles. Some of the participants have recently been homeless or in jail. Approximately 2,000 people have taken part in the program in the four years it has been around.

a stronger cord 2 Fitness Program Explores Tie Between Lifting Weights And Getting Sober

(credit: CBS)

McIntosh, who has struggled with addiction issues himself, says people in recovery often “become kind of closed down.” He says when they work out they open up a lot and share their stories with newfound friends, and that gives them a mental edge in their fight.

The Phoenix multisport gym on Champa Street opens their doors to the program every Wednesday night, and A Stronger Cord relies on donations so it can be free for participants. Certified trainers who lead the sessions also volunteer their skills for free.

LINK: A Stronger Cord

It also includes bonding outside the gym. The “knuckleheads” volunteer and help at-risk teens and seniors.

“We’re giving people that are receiving, receiving, receiving a whole lot of services being thrown at them — whether they’re coming out of addiction or incarceration — you give them a chance to give? It’s unbelievable,” McIntosh said.

a stronger cord 3 Fitness Program Explores Tie Between Lifting Weights And Getting Sober

(credit: CBS)

Two of the participants, Brandon Hughes and Dennis Page, told CBS4 it has been life changing for them.

“We rely on each other, you know. We’re got real-life problems and whenever I’m struggling I come and talk to these guys,” Hughes said.

“It brings your spirits up. It makes you feel good on the inside and out,” Page said.

Despite their individual struggles on the inside, together the “knuckleheads” are a stronger at their core, McIntosh says.

“Becoming more fit, more connected, more giving, healthier individually and collectively.”

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