An Orangetheory Fitness member conquers adaptive exercise.
Laura Ortiz never lets life get her down, no matter what is thrown her way. The military veteran strives to lead an active lifestyle, previously working at the YMCA, and currently as a recreational specialist for the Miami Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department.
However, her love of fitness was nearly jeopardized almost seven years ago, when Ortiz was involved in a hit and run accident on her motorcycle that resulted in the loss of her right leg below the knee.
“I knew that I wanted to live and I felt I had gotten this second chance that many people are not as fortunate to have,” said Ortiz. “Sometimes we get side tracked in life and we just go through the motions without purpose, so that was a pivotal moment for me.”
Taking advantage of her second chance, Ortiz refused to let losing her leg slow her down. “I wanted to focus on what I can do and not what I can’t,” she said. “I wanted to continue to do the things I was doing before and even experience things I had never done before when I had two legs. I put it in my mind and I could see myself doing it.”
Oritz began to compete at a Paralympic level in track, even medaling in the 100 and 200 meters. According to Ortiz, it is thrilling to discover how she can change and challenge her body.
Part of this challenge included joining Orangetheory Fitness when a location opened around the corner from her house. “I went in one day and didn’t even take a class, I just talked with the manager,” said Ortiz. “I knew it would be interesting because I hadn’t gotten my new running leg yet and I hadn’t done a lot of training on the treadmill, so I didn’t trust them.”
Despite her hesitation, Ortiz gave the workout a try. After seeing improvements in her speed, form and energy, she was hooked. “I had to take a few days off to travel for work and I found when I came back I was looking forward to going, [seeing] the coaches and the different workouts,” said Ortiz. “It was giving me this great amount of energy to be on point, not only at work, but with other things I was involved in.”
Ortiz has made it a priority to change the perception around those with disabilities. She views herself not as disabled, but as adaptive. “At the end of the day it is about telling yourself that you are capable of a lot and sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit,” explained Ortiz. “Challenges will come and it is all about how we choose to react to those. If you have a positive attitude, believe in yourself, set goals and take one step at a time, you realize you are stronger than you imagine.”