How One Rider Found Strength and Happiness at Flywheel

Kellyblog

Washington, DC rider and fitness enthusiast Kelly Anderson wasn’t going to let a health issue get in the way of her active lifestyle. Read on to discover how she’s staying mentally and physically strong, dominating the TorqBoard, and finding endless support at Flywheel.

 

What first brought you to FLY?

I won 5 classes. The FLY team had representatives at our annual health benefits fair, and they started describing the whole concept of the TorqBoard. I played field hockey in college, and I’m super competitive, so I loved the idea that you can compete with other people throughout the class and compare your own performance class-by-class. My older sister gave me additional classes for my birthday, and we started texting each other our Power Scores after class. We’ve been competitive our whole lives, and I love being able to still compete with her even though she lives in NYC.

Tell us more about your experience with dermatomyositis.

I’ve had alopecia, an autoimmune disease which makes your hair fall out, for four years. Whenever I actually started talking about what it was like to be an otherwise totally healthy – but bald – person, I would always say that I was grateful that it was just hair. If my body was just going to attack my hair follicles, I would be okay. Then, dermatomyositis came along. Dermatomyositis is a rare, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in your skin and muscles. About a year ago, I started having problems doing normal things. I noticed I was having trouble lifting my arms above my head when I was painting my brother’s house or perusing the sales racks at the outlets. I would need to rest after walking up a flight of stairs. I was 30 years old, a former marathon runner, an avid fitness enthusiast, and suddenly I was exhausted from walking just a half-mile to the metro. I knew something was wrong.

How has Flywheel positively impacted your journey?

The literature on the disease emphasized the importance of working out to prevent muscle degeneration. I’ve always been a runner. As I started to have some circulation problems, running outside became less of an option, and I loathe the treadmill. Flywheel provided me with aspects of the team workout I was used to from college, while allowing me to compete against myself. At first, when I was having bad days in the stadium because my muscles were flaring, I thought to myself “I bet no one else in this class has a rare muscle disease.” Then, I realized that’s not the point. It’s about competing to become the best version of yourself. And you never know what the person on the bike next to you might be facing, so it never hurts to help cheer them on, too.

Why do you feel fitness is so important when going through a health-related issue?

Fitness, for me, is critical to making sure my health issue doesn’t get any worse. But it also helps me to stay emotionally and mentally strong. The first time I made it on the TorqBoard, I cheered out loud and fist pumped, like the true New Jersey-native I am. It reminded me that if I can conquer a hard class, even on my bad days, I could conquer this disease, too.

How has your Washington DC FLYfam supported you?

The FLYfam has been incredible. I had one fellow rider come up to me and say she thought it was really cool that I was “rocking the bald.” She had no idea what I was going through, but it was great to have those words of encouragement before the start of class. I’ve also had the studio managers ask about my health situation and discuss personal challenges they have going on in their own life. I had never been to a workout where the people cared enough to ask what’s going on or give you a few words of encouragement. That’s why I keep coming back.

What’s one thing you’d like to tell others who may be impacted by a health issue?

Don’t let a health problem stand in your way. I had a really tough class recently, and I was bummed that I was SO tired and my score was SO low. But I remembered there will always be bad days – you just to have to use them to motivate you to do better next time. That’s how you end up being stronger in the end.

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