An Open Letter to Orangetheory, the Workout That Taught Me Balance in Life

First off, let me start by saying I am not a huge fan of the word balance.

I think that balance is different for everyone. Balance is something people can obsess over — "If I do too much of something, do I have to balance it out by doing the opposite?" It can get fuzzy and confusing.

But I believe that Orangetheory Fitness gave me balance in my workout routine. It literally made me realize I was doing too much of something and needed the opposite in my life. Here's why.

During the Summer of 2014, after my freshman year of college, my mom and I discovered a new workout studio opening right in our own neighborhood: Orangetheory Fitness Willow Glen. We walked past it a few times and decided, "What the heck! Let's try it out." After one workout, I was hooked. I loved every aspect of OTF: the trainers, the faculty, the location, the atmosphere. Each time I went to a workout, I left a happier person.

It was the Summer of 2014 that I began to develop a fitness routine, something I lacked since my high school soccer career. I began going to OTF three times a week, giving myself the other four days off. I loved it. I noticed a difference in my energy levels, my mood, and my body shape. I fully immersed myself in every workout, listening carefully to what my amazing coaches were teaching me to do. I followed the workout exactly how they instructed.

As September 2014 rolled around, I was starting my sophomore year of college at a new university. Thankfully, the school was local (although I was living on campus, not at home) and I could continue my OTF workout routine. Being the new kid on campus, I felt awkward, timid, judged, and unwanted. Transferring colleges was the hardest but best thing I have done to this day. However, I used my workout routine as an escape. I began going to OTF every single day and pushing myself during every workout.

OTF showed me that I could push myself some days and give my body rest the other days.

I would walk around campus and not recognize a face. I would wave to people, but I wouldn't get a wave back. I felt like nobody knew who I was. I would sit in class and say, "Hi, my name is Maggie Kettmann. A fun fact about myself is that I just transferred here." And instead of people making me feel welcome, I got nothing. I'm not trying to have a pity party right now. I learned that those reactions were not worth the time. What I am trying to explain is why I turned to my workout routine to make me feel better.

After my day of classes, I would look forward to going to OTF because I knew people there. I became close with certain trainers, I could have real conversations with people, and I could work my ass off to forget how I felt earlier that day. I pushed myself at every single class and would leave on a high. Every single afternoon, I looked forward to that feeling — I craved that feeling. After continuous hard workouts, I began developing horrible knee pain. Did I stop? Nope. I continued to go and occasionally modified the workouts (by modify, I mean I would do 10 squats instead of 12 . . . so not much). It was my escape. I could not miss a day because it made my days better.

After a workout one day, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I almost could not finish the weight portion and was so close to leaving. Being myself (at the time), I finished the workout. Then, one of my favorite trainers, someone I have really connected to at OTF, approached me and asked if I was doing OTF every single day. I responded, "Yeah, of course!" thinking she would support that. Instead, she asked me why. I told her I loved it and it made me feel like a better person. We both nodded our heads and parted ways. As I was leaving that workout, I started to wonder if I was exhausted mentally and physically because of life or if I was exhausted mentally and physically because of my workout routine. I knew I had to change something. Was she noticing my fatigue, too? What made her ask me that question?

That was the moment that OTF gave me balance. OTF showed me that my body, Maggie Kettmann's body, was not meant to be doing OTF high-intensity workouts every single day. OTF showed me that I could push myself some days and give my body rest the other days. OTF showed me that I am still a good human being, regardless of how hard I push my body during a workout. OTF gave me the courage to slow down — something I had never thought was good. OTF allowed me to discover a balanced workout routine that fit me.

The point of this is NOT to stray you away from Orangetheory workouts or to have you be afraid to push yourself during them or even to encourage you to give OTF a try for the first time. The point of me writing this is to thank OTF for showing me what my body is capable of doing.

So, I thank OTF Willow Glen and the trainers who have pushed me along the way to discovering just what my body is meant to do. Thank you to that trainer (do you remember saying that to me?) for connecting with me and guiding me to slow down. I will forever enjoy my OTF family and cannot imagine my life without these workouts. YES, I still go to OTF two to three times a week. I have learned to modify anything and everything that puts me over the edge and does not make my body feel right. On the days I do not do OTF, I do Vinyasa yoga, long or short walks, or absolutely nothing, because I try to honor my body.

So, my challenge to you is to listen to your body. Whether that is through working out, eating certain foods, or meeting new people, recognize how it makes you feel.