The world may be crazy and unpredictable, but Orangetheory's mantra holds steady and true: Together, We're Better. Yeah, even when we're apart.

The world may be crazy and unpredictable, but Orangetheory's mantra holds steady and true: Together, We're Better. Yeah, even when we're apart.

When her Orangetheory Fitness studio in Salem, NH, closed in March because of the coronavirus, Anne Marie Levie understood the need for such safety precautions. But that didn’t make hearing the news any easier.

“I was devastated when they shut down,” says Anne Marie, who was one of the first to join that location when it opened in 2016, and the very first to reach the 1,000-classes mark. “It really took something away, something I really care about. I felt part of me was gone.”

Then friends she’d made in class began connecting with her and with each other. They’d see each other in Zoom classes and helped keep each other motivated and accountable.

“I knew I could reach out to them and lean on them,” says Anne Marie, who has since resumed studio workouts. “I could say, ‘I haven’t done anything today; I need you to give me a kick in the butt,’ and they’d come through.”

Together, we’re stronger.

During the lockdown, Ida Clay, head coach of Houston’s West University studio, conducted plenty of Zoom classes in her living room with her dog looking on.

“Yes, we can internally motivate ourselves to the best of our abilities,” Ida says, “but there’s something to be said about accountability. If you and I are together and I get tired, you’d say, ‘C’mon. You can do this.’ And if you were tired, I’d say the same to you.”

Now that some studios are open, she continues to encourage community. “Give your neighbor a smile,” she tells people in class. “Give them a head nod. Take a look at your left, take a look at your right. Ask how they’re doing; give an air fist. Make sure you get some love; make sure you give some.”

Says Ida: “Even though we’re wearing masks and we’re six feet apart, we’re still humans and we’re still craving connection.”

Together, we’re stronger.

For Arizona member Neal Bendesky, going to his South Chandler studio in Gilbert reminds him he’s not alone. Four years ago, an undiagnosed hereditary heart issue led to a heart attack in the studio. He credits the prompt attention of staff and fellow members with saving his life.

He praises the coaches for keeping classes going during the lockdown, using Instagram and Zoom. Now that he’s back in the studio every day, he feels the camaraderie more than ever.

“Being connected means everything,” Neal says.

Together, we’re stronger.

Back in June, Christine McCarthy, head coach at Anne Marie’s studio in New Hampshire, injured her back so badly she couldn’t work for two weeks.

“I couldn’t get off the couch,” says Christine, who has four children. “And then I got this gift from members — $650 in Door Dash gift cards. It was unbelievably awesome. Not just fitness happens; true community happens in that studio.”

Together, we’re stronger.

At Orangetheory, those three words aren’t randomly strung together. Nor do they mean together only in the physical sense. Instead, they’re the unspoken mantra that permeates the studio and beyond; the whispered encouragement felt as much as heard; the comforting quality that keeps members loyal and coaches motivated to make a difference.

Even during months of lockdown, when any connection was accomplished via a screen, the strength of togetherness overpowered feelings of isolation or helplessness. It still does, no matter where or how we’re doing our workouts.

2020 has been a tough year; everyone has weathered more in the last 12 months than most do in a decade or even a lifetime. But Orangetheory has been a beacon, a steady light in the fog of uncertainty that has characterized 2020. And it’s all about being here for each other.

“Now that we’re actually able to connect face to face, I ask lots of questions and people start talking,” Ida says. “I might ask, ‘Who likes to go on hikes?’ Or who goes to the Arboretum?’ We start connecting with each other that way.”

In her years as an Orangetheory coach, she has learned and honed that power, which she reflects to her members and they to her. She reminds them of an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

She stresses the importance of relying on each other: “When you’re down, grab someone, lean on someone, and together you can walk forward,” she says. “Think about the visual of this. If I’ve fallen down and am tired, and someone next to me is tired, too, we can stand up, lean on each other and support each other. It’s a microcosm of the macrocosm that is community.”

Anne Marie belonged to several gyms before joining Orangetheory. She knew with that first workout that this was different: She didn’t feel intimidated. People connected. They cared.

“Even during lockdown, even though we were separated, we still felt like we were together,” she says. “That’s what really helped me during those months.”

In her studio hangs a sign that encourages her every time she walks in: “Enter as Strangers; Leave as Friends.”

“This is how I think of Orangetheory,” she says, “the support, the encouragement, the workouts, and most of all the friendships you make.”

Those friendships shone through during the lockdown, Christine says. Members kept each other motivated during the Transformation Challenge, commenting support on Facebook pages. Christine made a point of calling or emailing members, checking on how they were feeling physically, emotionally, mentally.

“Maybe they had an injury last month and I didn’t know,” she says. “I’m showing them I care: ‘Let me know if there’s anything you want to talk about.’ Just those two minutes can make a world of difference.”


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