Most people can’t fathom waking up at 4:30 a.m. in general – especially for a workout. Although, there are some who will drag themselves out of bed no matter how warm and snuggly it is. Leslie is that type of person. She makes the effort to attend the 5 a.m. class at Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) knowing that she’ll feel better once she sees her morning squad.
Like many who join OTF, Leslie wanted to improve her health and she wanted to shed those last 30 pounds of “baby weight” after the birth of her second child. Her journey to OTF started with some frustrating news at her annual physical in late 2015. When her doctor said her weight and body mass index (BMI) classified her as obese, Leslie decided it was time to make a change.
“I think it was particularly great being part of the “founding” class of members at Orenco OTF because we all started together. We were all newbies together.”
She started with her nutrition, successfully losing 30 pounds in the first half of 2016. “I was feeling and looking better than I had in a very long time, but I knew that in order to maintain my health long term, I needed to also add more physical activity,” said Leslie. Towards the end of the year, Leslie started seeing OTF “coming soon” signs popping up in her Orenco Station neighborhood and heard the OTF “buzz” from friends at work. She decided to make the leap and sign up.
Anyone’s initial class can be daunting and unnerving as you learn the flow of the class. While challenging, Leslie was hooked from the start and credits the variety of people in her class – men and women, young and old, fit and those looking to shed a few extra pounds. It was clear to her that OTF provided a place where all types of people can come together for an hour each day to work hard and achieve their goals. “I think it was particularly great being part of the “founding” class of members at Orenco OTF because we all started together. We were all newbies together,” she said.
Hooked from the first class, Leslie knew she was headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, a major family crisis propelled her to affirm her commitment to OTF. On December 23, 2016, Leslie’s mom suffered a massive stroke. One moment her, vivacious, 64-year-old mother was living a normal, healthy and active life. The next moment she was fighting for her life.
Leslie says she will never forget the call from her sister that came while she was wrapping presents and getting ready for their annual Christmas Eve party. Next came a frantic drive to the Salem Hospital, a quick decision by doctors to transfer her mom by Life Flight to Oregon Health Science University (OHSU), a rush consultation with the surgeon, and the three terrifying days with mom in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
She’ll also never forget the call she made to OTF Orenco Station on Christmas Eve morning to cancel her class. Leslie said, “Rachel answered the phone and she was just so incredibly kind and that when I started to tell her I was missing the class, that my mom had a stroke, I lost it and just started to sob.” Rachel was empathetic in the moment, and supportive when Leslie returned for her first OTF class a few weeks later. Her mom had been released from the hospital and she was thankful for her road to a full recovery.
Not surprisingly, the experience left an indelible mark on Leslie. She knew that she had to do everything possible to take control of her health and live her best life possible. And thanks to Rachel’s kindness, she had found her place at OTF Orenco Station. This wasn’t just a gym or just a workout – but a place that feels like family, a place that lifts her up. A place where she can push herself to be stronger and achieve more than she ever thought possible.
Leslie says she burns first and foremost burns for herself. While it may sound selfish to some, Leslie thinks of it as being self-full. She says OTF empowers her to be her best, strongest, fittest self – so she can be the best wife, mom, daughter, and friend for others. She burns so she can carry her, 55-pound 6-year old, daughter up the stairs – and maybe still carry her when she’s 65 pounds and 7 years old! And, Leslie burns because of her mom. She knows that while she can’t control the genetic factors that might contribute to a stroke, she can control how she takes care of her body, her diet, and her physical activity.
At the start of her OTF fitness journey, Leslie’s goals were to maintain her fitness and gradually progress in her weight loss while leading a fun life and enjoying great food. Working out was not a consistent part of her lifestyle prior to OTF, so she set a goal of attending classes at least three times a week as part of her fitness maintenance.
Although she had modest goals in the beginning, she soon realized that she could do more. Leslie started as a power-walker and she began to entertain the idea of jogging, despite having some reservations about it. Her inspiration? Coach Shay! One day in class he said to Leslie, “If you can powerwalk that fast, you might as well run.”
The first thought she had in her head was “Shut up! I hate running, there’s no way I’m going to run…” and her second thought was “Well, I’ll take that challenge!” The next day, she started to jog – baby steps – with her speed and strength increasing a little each day.
When a few of the OTF squad, Christina, Katie and Megan, in her class approached her in early 2017 about joining their team for the 2018 Shamrock Run, Leslie started to seriously consider it. While a tiny bit scared, she dug deep, signed up with the team, and set a goal to run the 8K.
Then she started running more. She ran at OTF and outside in her neighborhood. She became faster and stronger and in March 2018 – she ran her first race and her first 8K ever! She ran the whole thing – a major milestone in itself – never walked and has OTF to thank for helping her accomplish that goal. She now looks forward to her next race and achieving her next goal!
In addition, inspired by the OTF Transformation Challenge, Leslie has increased her lean muscle mass by 2.4 pounds, increased her basal metabolic rate by 24 kcal, reduced her body fat by 4 percent, and has lost 6 pounds since January 2018. She also set the goal of completing last September’s Dri-Tri in less than an hour, which she did in 59 minutes and 22 seconds. She then, on her 46thbirthday, smashed her previous Dri-Tri time by five minutes accomplishing her goal! She’s now working to increase her speed on the treads, increase her weights on the floor and come to class five days a week.
“The Halloween party was a blast – and I was so sorry to miss the 1-year anniversary party but I love that Orenco OTF takes the time to create these moments of connections with its members.”
According to Leslie, it’s the fun and friendly coaches, staff, and incredible member community that make OTF Orenco Station a great environment to take classes at and keep her coming back for more. She’s also forged new friendships with folks like Monica, Sarah, and the Shamrock Run squad (Katie, Christina and Megan).
“Orenco OTF has a special chemistry and magic that I’ve not found at any other OTF studio. AJ, Shay, Persia are my absolute ‘fave’ coaches. I still miss Chris and Chloe, but it’s so great when them come back to visit! And new additions like Jess, Taylor and Conner have brought new energy, which I love. AmyJae keeps the energy high and makes the whole place hum. And it’s always nice to see Jojoe’s friendly face when I come in the front door.”
Finally, it’s the activity and accountability. She loves that there’s always a new competition, class or activity. From Hell Week to the Dri-Tri, Transformation Challenge to the Marathon Challenge, to Spirit Week, and to the guest DJ – there’s always something fun to look forward to and keep her motivated.
She also loves how OTF Orenco Station comes together to celebrate at after-hours social events. “The Halloween party was a blast – and I was so sorry to miss the 1-year anniversary party but I love that Orenco OTF takes the time to create these moments of connections with its members,” said Leslie.
Keep Burning Leslie!