In the 1990s, Stacey Griffith was living in Los Angeles, teaching spin classes and looking like the picture of health. Her diet was superclean, and she worked out constantly. But behind this seemingly healthy facade, Griffith was a party girl, often showing up to teach her classes after being out all night. She was drinking and taking cocaine and ecstasy; soon she started doing crystal meth.

Fitness helped me climb past my addiction.

In a way, Griffith says the physicality of her career helped her from slipping too deeply into a drug habit. “I always had this physical job that I had to show up for. After a big night out, I’d be back at the gym the next day, sweating, training, and helping to otherwise minimize the physical damage I might have received from my drug use.”

Eventually, she adds, fitness also helped pull her out of her addiction. As her classes grew in popularity, she had more and more students waiting for her. “I felt accountable to them.”

But even if you don’t have a following of dozens of loyal class members, Griffith says fitness can help pull you past life’s challenges. “So many amazing things happen in your body when you exercise, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to get that effect.”

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Today, Griffith, 48, lives in New York, teaching 18 to 20 classes a week at SoulCycle to celebrities like Kelly Ripa and Madonna. This past year she published a book, Two Turns From Zero, recounting her journey and giving advice on how to reach new heights in health and fitness.

“I needed to get my story out to show I was not born this amazing teacher. I had years of struggle,” she says. “I wanted people to know that if I can come from the depths of addiction and turn around, so can you.”