Today Show

Sure, a fitness center can help a person get in shape and feel great. But is it a bit of a stretch for someone to describe her gym as “life-saving”?

Not necessarily — if the gym in question is Healthworks at St. Mary’s, in the Dorchester area of Boston. Since 2002, this small gym has provided completely free memberships to thousands of homeless and very low-income women. Many members struggle with diabetes, high-blood pressure and obesity.

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Some contend with mental illnesses and mood disorders. Almost all deal with crushing, chronic stress, and the gym can be their one safe place to alleviate it. Against this backdrop, it’s easy to understand just how devastated the gym’s 450 regular members were when they learned last month that St. Mary’s had to close its doors for financial reasons.

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