Ironwood Gym offers safe space for those seeking positive change after recovery

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Millions of people from all walks of life find the determination to get into the gym every single day.

For a select few at the Ironwood Gym located in downtown Farmington, the desire to get in a good workout has more than just personal fitness benefits.

"I like to think of it as the safe space for people who might have felt they didn't have one before," said Billy DuTremaine, co-owner of the gym as well as Cottonwood Clinical Services and the recently opened food truck pavilion known as Locke Street Eats.

Ironwood Gym, which opened last year, has become a place where people recovering from substance abuse issues can go to not only aid in their recovery, but also find productive and positive ways to get back in shape.

"We've got classes for those who've never been in a gym, and more advanced classes and workouts for those who have spent time in a gym or similar program," said trainer Dustin Moore, who has worked at the gym as a personal trainer and at Cottonwood Clinical Services as a counselor. "I've seen it time and again where just getting back into a positive routine has made a huge difference."

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Dustin Moore, one of several fitness trainers at Ironwood Gym as well as counselors at Cottonwood Clinical Systems, discusses workout technique with Isiah Thompson at the downtown Farmington gym, Friday, June 10, 2022.

Ironwood Gym offers in-person fitness classes, as well as a wide variety of exercise equipment, weights and machines for their clientele, almost all of whom are exclusively those currently receiving treatment at Cottonwood Clinical Services for substance abuse issues.

Isiah Thompson, a member at the gym for more than six months and having gone through the treatment program at Cottonwood Clinical, has seen the change in his own path as well as those around him.

"To actually be sober, to be in this position I'm in right now, I've learned a lot about myself and others," Thompson said. "It's more than just coming to the gym, because they've helped me to find the answers to things I'm going through." 

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The Ironwood Gym is located at 324 W Main St. in downtown Farmington near the newly-opened Locke Street Eats food truck pavilion.

Ironwood Gym, which neighbors the newly opened Locke Street Eats, with a variety of local food trucks and a venue for local artists, is proving to be a perfect fit in downtown Farmington, going through a revitalization process of its own in recent years.

"We're coming out of some very dark times," DuTremaine said. "And our vision was that we'd create a place where people can go and spread some positive vibes with those going through some of these battles and issues."

DuTremaine, who owns the gym as well as Cottonwood Clinical Services with his wife Kim, believes the personal relationships formed by clients at both facilities can be even better served by having a venue like Locke Street Eats where people can go and share their experiences.

"Ultimately, we'd all like to form that bond, push each other in the gym and then leave together as friends," DuTremaine said. "As an addict, you burn a lot of bridges, and the people you hang out with sometimes make it difficult in who to trust. Having that place to rebuild those positive relationships is the ultimate goal."  

Ironwood Gym is located in the former Bank of the Southwest building at the corner of Main and Locke streets. Cottonwood Clinical Services is located a few blocks from the gym, at 653 West Arrington Street.

Jessica Montoya, a fitness trainer at the gym and support counselor at Cottonwood Clinical Services, says the benefits of a workout go well beyond just the physical boost of adrenaline one feels during a class.

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"For me, there's no better reward than seeing people come from a place of despair, and actually find hope just by taking some action and involvement in their life."

Montoya teaches classes for small groups of clients, which vary from basic exercises to more strenuous routines involving weights and equipment. In addition to the workouts having a benefit for her clients, the work has also given her hope for the future. 

"I was dealing with a deep postpartum depression, and that eventually led me to finding ways to deal with that," said the 31-year-old Montoya. "I've been substance free for more than five years. I remember that feeling of being in despair and being a part of this has been very rewarding." 

Jessica Montoya, a personal trainer at Ironwood Gym and an addiction counselor at Cottonwood Clinical Systems, leads a fitness class at the downtown Farmington gym, Friday, June 10, 2022.

The trainers and employees at the gym, also recovering addicts, have claimed a personal stake in the work done at the facility, which is open six days a week.

"You can't learn how to change a tire unless it's from someone who already knows how to change a tire," DuTremaine said. "We wanted our clients here to feel that they're work here wasn't being judged by someone who hasn't already walked in those shoes."

Membership dues at Ironwood Gym are more often than not paid by Medicaid and most private insurances. Even after a member has graduated the treatment program at Cottonwood Clinicals, those patients receive a six-month free membership. 

"Showing people they can come to a place where you can escape in a positive way has been really important," said Des DuTremaine, who also works at both Ironwood and Cottonwood. "It's a clubhouse where people just be themselves and feel confidence while simultaneously extending their lives."

Trainers at Ironwood Gym have also used their own path to recovery as a guide for new members.

"I wanted to work on my recovery and I wanted to share my experiences with those in similar situations," said Matthew Gallegos. "I love helping people lose weight and add muscle, but to save someone's life or change someone's life is so much more fulfilling."

Going to the gym for many can be physically taxing, particularly for those who may not have had previous experience in how to do activities like weight training or building muscle mass.

"The trainers here shown me ways to improve my form, how to lift properly, what to eat and how to do things in the physical aspect that have changed me in so many ways," Thompson said. 

For more information about Ironwood Gym, follow them on Facebook or call (505) 772-9663.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.