By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD – Savannah Rae had a tough time while a student at South Kitsap High School from living in a family home impacted by alcohol abuse.
In her early 20s, she herself became an alcoholic. She almost didn’t survive her early 20s. So unhappy with her life, she seriously contemplated suicide. But with help, however, Rae was able to turn her life around.
Today, she’s a mother of two girls. With nine years of sobriety under her belt, the 35-year-old woman wants to give back to the community that helped her get through tough times.
“As I got into recovery, I wanted to get into a healthy lifestyle and became a fitness coach. Now, I want to help people get physically fit,” Rae said.
To accomplish that goal, the Port Orchard fitness enthusiast is conducting cardio workout sessions at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday evenings on South Kitsap High School’s Ed Fisher Field football stadium. The artificially turfed field offers plenty of room for participants to spread out and get sweaty.
“I never thought I’d be back to the high school I graduated from, but here I am,” she said. “It’s awesome doing these live workouts and I’m grateful that I get to.”
The 50-minute outdoor sessions are designed for all levels of fitness — from the super-fit to those new to exercise, Rae noted. Attendees range in age from 20 to 65 (with a sprinkling of youngsters working out alongside a parent). Each class is $15.
The classes are labeled as high-intensity interval training — or HIIT. Fitness enthusiasts undergo cardio strength training routines involving burpees, push-ups, squats and lunges.
“No equipment is needed. You just use your body. You can get an incredible workout without equipment,” Rae noted. “The classes are a judgment-free zone,” Rae stressed. “It’s not a competitive atmosphere. It’s really about people coming together to form a positive group.”
Finding her way
Rae is open about her run-in with alcohol abuse as those tough years led her to the positive place she finds herself today. She acknowledged being raised in what she described as a “dysfunctional home” filled with alcohol. Once she took up the bottle, Rae viewed herself as a “party girl.”
“Many kids are afraid to talk about that, but I’m not. I want to raise awareness about such problems.”
After two DUIs and five attempts at completing treatment, she found herself in a dark place.
“I hated myself and felt the world would be a better place without me. During my last drinking episode, I was in the ER, where I had been many times. I felt my life was going to end. I came to realize that I was either going to fight for my life or go back out and drink and die.”
After hitting rock-bottom, Rae decided she wanted to live a productive life.
She jumped into fitness and became a certified fitness coach. She started out teaching fitness classes at Van Zee Park, then offered boot camps at Givens Community Center. Once the pandemic began to dissipate, Rae approached SKHS and got the green light to do her summer workouts.
The twice-weekly sessions at the high school run through Aug. 26, when the field reverts to high school activities. Once the summer workouts end, Rae will hold a virtual boot camp. The four-week session begins on Aug. 30.
Additional information about the summer workouts and boot camp can be obtained by visiting Savannahraefitness.com.