Part Gym, Part Wellness Center, a New Recovery Community Is Promoting Sobriety in Aurora

Home to a fully equipped gym, boxing ring, and various peer support services, ParadigmONE in Aurora is an uplifting, non-profit community center focused on sober living and recovery from substance abuse. The organization promotes liberation from substance addiction and abuse by helping channel pent-up edge through healthy coping mechanisms.

Since leaving a decade-long career in 2013, Jess Kidd, chairman of ParadigmONE, had personal reasons that gravitated her towards a niche that encourages sobriety through healthy habits. During her adolescence, Kidd’s personal experiences with drugs pulled her into bad situations. Upon realizing that the path she was headed down was holding her back, she became a fiery advocate for sobriety, health and fitness. Kidd wants ParadigmONE’s community to be a safe haven for those who desire a deeper sense of community and want to confront their past without judgment.

“There is such a stigma around people who use drugs,” explained Kidd. “Addressing and healing our internal struggles or past trauma will provide the external results we desire.” Kidd, who is a CCAR Recovery Coach among many other things, leads regular fitness classes and mentorship for ParadigmONE members.

Jess Kidd, Chair of the Board of Directors, warms up boxing class at Paradigm One, a sober community center in Aurora, CO.

Geno Shvedov, a recovered addict who has done a complete 180 on his life, focuses on helping those in recovery. Shvedov is the co-founder and director of Hazelbrook Sober Living & Recovery and serves as the executive director at ParadigmONE. A professional mixed martial artist with an educational background in business, Shvedov wants to bring his multifaceted passions and knowledge to the recovery community. “We’re helping people build a better sense of discipline. It’s always been a dream of mine to merge my passion for martial arts and recovery to help others get back on track.”

For the creatively driven, the non-profit also offers programs in art and music, ranging from graffiti painting to instrumental lessons. “A lot of people who are struggling with addiction have some underlying dark thoughts that they feel they can’t express externally,” Kidd explained. Diving into art helps those in recovery combat these negative feelings, opening a door to unacknowledged emotions and mental blockage. “Art recovery lets me put my feelings on canvas and there are a lot of feelings I have bottled up. Some are beautiful and some are very dark. But no matter what, I know if I can’t talk about them, I can express them in art recovery,” shared member Belladonna.

ParadigmONE Aurora Yoga class

Amy Kixmiller leads regular yoga classes at ParadigmONE in Aurora, Colorado.

Aside from fitness and recreational programs, spirituality workshops and services are provided for those who seek a deeper understanding. Faith and spiritual practice can help develop stored resentment, trauma and confusion into clarity, positivity and hope. “John and Ayla’s bible study has opened my eyes to religion again. When I was on the streets, I was mad at God and I stopped believing in him,” shared community member Liz. “Since doing the bible study, I know God never left my side and I also know I can’t get through a day without speaking to him.”

Because those with past substance abuse are often left with poor financial and budgeting habits, sometimes left with little to no money and criminal history, the community also offers classes in budgeting, life skills training and job placement. “I never thought I would have a bank account or even a credit card in my life. This class is helping me do it, and I feel good about knowing I now have savings,” explained member Ekaterina in a testimonial.

Sober students get ready for a boxing class at ParadigmONE in Aurora, Colorado.

Kidd and Shvedov both understand the psychology behind drug addiction to be an underlying desire to release restless feelings or negative thought patterns. While drugs and alcohol provide an easy fix, it’s the desire to find refuge and release that lead people down the path of addiction. At ParadigmONE, these feelings are acknowledged and directed at healthy alternatives.

“Healthy fellowship and conversation start about new topics, rather than on the next ‘fix’,” added community member Forest. According to Shvedov, sober parties and barbeques are a favorite among members. Although the program welcomes all, Kidd explained anyone who’d like to participate in the program is asked to be at least 24 hours sober. If they are not, they offer resources and guidance to get them sober.

Jess Kidd and Geno Shvedov lead regular boxing classes at ParadigmONE in Aurora, Colorado.

“Recovery is a lifelong journey,” said Shvedov. “We want to show people that life can be enjoyable and fun while sober. Basically, we want to be a community of bad-asses.” And badass is just the word to describe the community at ParadigmONE.

ParadigmONE is a grassroots recovery community center that offers services at little to no cost. Plans for a grand opening are scheduled for April 24.

To learn more about ParadigmONE, visit here.

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

All photography by Marla Keown.