LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local fitness pro is on a mission to lift weights while lifting the spirits of countless women across the Capital Region. Heather Matthews overcame addiction 10 years ago and has opened up her dream gym to instill confidence in others.

On April 11, Matthews looked around at the newly renovated space and couldn’t believe her business, HLM Fitness, had finally opened its doors at 1209 Troy Schenectady Road in Latham. “How is this even happening? How is this the same person? The same life?” Matthews asked. “Ten years ago, I really thought it was all over.”

Back then, Matthews was stuck in a life of alcoholism and addiction. She tried going to rehabilitation facilities five different times, but nothing worked. On one of her darkest days, Matthews tried to end her own life because she couldn’t picture it without alcohol.

Matthews said the turning point came at an unexpected moment, when her parents cut her off from help. “I want parents out there to know that, even though it seems like it’s unfathomable to say that to your child—if they are struggling with addiction, stop enabling them,” Matthews said. “They need their lives to be so uncomfortable that they’re forced to change.

Matthews hit rock bottom and said she had no option but to transform. She knew she had to change everything about her life, including who she surrounded herself with and how she spent her time. “So I was like, ‘Who doesn’t drink or do drugs?'” Matthews said. “People in the gym.”

She threw herself into the fitness lifestyle and signed up for a fitness competition having never lifted a dumbbell in her life. Matthews joined a gym and hired a trainer, working tirelessly to compete. Along the way, the process helped her get sober, giving her the confidence necessary to leave alcohol behind.

Throughout the years, she has competed in countless NPC Fitness and Bodybuilding competitions and won numerous titles. Matthews became a nationally recognized NPC competitor, and knew she had to share that skill with others.

Matthews decided to dedicate her life to helping women gain confidence through fitness. She has spent the better part of seven years renting a small space at a local gym to train countless women, but her business finally expanded enough to open her own space in Latham.

“I want women to know it’s not a gym where you come in and you are trying to change the way you look,” Matthews said. “You’re trying to show yourself that you can do things that you never thought you could.”

Currently, HLM Fitness is offering 30 sessions per week of one on one personal training and small group classes in “Total Body Toning.”

“I hope people know that if they are struggling, and they think there is no way out,” Matthews said, “I found it through fitness. But you can change your life.”