Move Together, Heal Together

Ethan Hershman has been in recovery from substance use disorder for 28 years. While he’s never once relapsed, he’s seen his fair share of people who haven’t been as fortunate and, in many tragic cases, have lost their lives. He finally asked himself, “why?”

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In 1994, at just 31 years old, Ethan Hershman knew it was time to get sober. While his recovery journey has been far from easy, Ethan had the support of his family and the resources to enlist a doctor, nutritionist, and therapist to guide his recovery. During this time, Ethan found two things that would change his life forever – 1) Alcoholics Anonymous (AA); and 2) fitness.

Ethan became an active member of AA, attending 5-6 meetings per week for almost three decades. But in his quest to live a healthier lifestyle, quitting drugs and alcohol wasn’t enough. So Ethan began to pursue physical fitness, initially with distance running and then CrossFit. As his commitment to both grew, Ethan soon found that he was supporting his sobriety not only through recovery meetings, but also through physical training.

The importance of fitness to Ethan’s own recovery led him to start Move to Heal, a non-profit, grass roots organization committed to helping improve the lives of people in recovery on physical, mental, and emotional levels. The Move to Heal model integrates four disciplines: group exercise, recovery meetings, nutritional coaching, and mental health counseling.

“I can’t say for certain, but I am confident we’ve saved people from relapse and, potentially, dying.”
– Ethan Hershman, Founder, Move to Heal

The model is built around group exercise that is intended to strengthen and repair the body, while at the same time improving confidence and self-worth. Physical exercise is coupled with recovery meetings intended to help people heal from addiction, PTSD, or any other traumatic life events. Nutritional counseling and mental health counseling also support a healthy transition to a more positive lifestyle (both mental and physical), and the group atmosphere produces strong community and fellowship.

Currently, Move to Heal partners with four fitness facilities in the Connecticut and Massachusetts region where participants can attend a 30-minute introductory group fitness class, followed by a recovery meeting. Each facility provides its space and a qualified coach to lead the fitness portion of the meetings free of charge, and, in return, Move to Heal covers all membership fees for recovery patients who choose to join that facility. Move to Heal also provides the nutritional and mental health counselors who lead the recovery meetings.

“I have lived a very full life but, since starting Move to Heal, I now know what I was put here to do. There’s something special happening and it just feels right.”
– Ethan Hershman, Founder, Move to Heal

“It’s really that simple,” says Ethan. “We know there are multiple layers to a healthy recovery, but we believe that if given proper post-treatment services, we can improve the statistics and save lives.”

Currently, Move to Heal services 100 people per week at four sites. The goal is to add four more partnerships in 2022, including some out of state, and another 12 partnerships in 2023. Purdue Pharma L.P. provided a grant to Move to Heal in 2021 through its Charity Miles corporate team, wherein colleagues logged their movement through the Charity Miles app to raise funds for the charity. Craig Landau, MD, President and CEO of Purdue Pharma, is a member of the Move to Heal Board of Directors.

“I’m honored to serve on the Move to Heal Board,” said Dr. Landau. “It was a great fit because I recognize the significant burden and consequences of mental health issues and, through my own approach to exercise (including CrossFit), the positive impact that physical fitness has on my own mindset.”

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