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"Flywheel Is My Happy Place": One woman's journey back to fitness after a life-changing accident

By March 12, 2014 No Comments

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We always love hearing that our instructors make Flywheel such an inspiring place to work out. However, if you were to ask our instructors who keeps them motivated, it’s the riders and pulsers who come in every day to reach their goals, break physical limits, push through personal obstacles and overall, #nevercoast.  YOU are the ones who not only show up to class, but continue to impress us with your strength and dedication to living a healthy, active life—no matter what. Christine Yi, truly embodies this spirit and is a face many have come to know and love in the Flatiron studio in NYC. Not only are we impressed with her collection of Power Up tanks, her constant #1 spot on the TorqBoard or her strength in the FlyBarre studio, but we are impressed by her endurance and motivation despite the obstacles that have been thrown her way.  Take a moment and learn a little bit more about why Christine is such an inspiration to us all…

Almost 11 years ago, I was in a terrible subway accident. I fell into the tracks while a train was stopped, and when the train moved, it crushed my right leg. The hospital had to amputate my leg as soon as I arrived at the hospital. I was in the ICU for a week, and considering the severity of the accident and my additional injuries, I was lucky to be alive. While I was in the hospital over the next five weeks, I had seven surgeries and nine blood transfusions. The first time I stood up, I fainted immediately.

Those weeks in the hospital the weeks following were filled with physical and mental anguish, and despite my own strength, I persevered with the help and support of my family and friends.

Now, most people who meet me have no idea that I have a prosthetic leg. Learning to walk again was an incredible challenge; every step was excruciatingly painful and exhausting. The first time I went on the treadmill to work on my gait, I was sweat-drenched and winded after only 5 minutes. I worked on walking as often as I could, watching and imitating other people’s gaits. I strength trained specific muscles used to support my prosthetic leg. There were days where involuntary tears would stream down my face from the pain. But I was determined, and I always had my amazing family and friends supporting me.

I learned about Flywheel from a college friend who is married to the CEO’s sister – he posted something on Facebook about it, and I was intrigued by the physical competition. I’ve always been a competitive person, but since my accident, physical competition was lacking. I gathered a bunch of my friends to ride, and on August 21, 2010, we headed to Flywheel. It was my first time and I fell in love with the rush of both the ride AND the competition.

At the time, I was working at a hedge fund and the 6am or 7am rides with Kate Hickl started my day, every day. I never missed a ride, regardless of how late I was out the night before attending events or entertaining investors. I started my day fresh and strong by getting all of my stress out on the bike!

I started spending more time at Flywheel. I loved the energy of the 60 minute ride on Saturday with Holly Rilinger and the fierceness of the 60 minute ride on Sunday. Jesse Alexander brought out my love for rhythm jogs and tap backs. I rushed out of work on Friday evenings whenever possible for Danielle Devine-Baum’s hour ride to start off my weekend. Alison Cohen’s playlists kept me super pumped throughout the ride AND the day. Chris Tracey, Ryan Makely and Jaimie Bailey went from working the front desk to becoming amazing instructors. Through it all, I was always on the TorqBoard, and I always pushed myself harder to get that win. Beating so many other riders with only one leg was incredibly empowering!

Adding FlyBarre to my Flywheel routine was a major game changer. That first class with Kara Liotta on the Upper East Side during the week of Hurricane Sandy was so intense and difficult. Throughout the class, Kara will watch you and slightly improve your form; it’s those small changes that make the exercise that much more challenging and effective. I was incredibly sore that next day, but I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I’m so thankful to Kate Hickl for pushing me to try that first FlyBarre class. I modify some of the moves to accommodate my prosthesis, and I did my first FlyBarre Challenge in January 2013. In those six weeks, my body SHRUNK… I lost two dress sizes! The combination of Flywheel and FlyBarre is body transforming!

In the past year, I have found a group of friends at Flywheel, and when your friends are instructors on the bike or at the barre, you can imagine how motivating that is! Kate Hickl, Kara Liotta, Lisa Niren and fellow rider Shari Loeffler have been my role models, and my hard work and dedication coupled with their excitement, encouragement and support has made me stronger than I have ever been. FLY FAMILY… that’s truly what makes Flywheel what it is.

On my birthday last July, I brought my sisters and friends with me for my perfect day: a Flywheel/FlyBarre double! Afterwards, my sister, Debbie, told me, “Watching you at Flywheel filled me with such joy… that happy, smiley, kickass woman you showed everyone at Flywheel today is the sister I’ve known for 34 years.” Flywheel has brought that back to me.

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There was a time not that long ago where I would be winded and in pain after walking ONE city block. Now I feel like I can face any obstacle on or off the bike. It’s no wonder that Flywheel is my happy place!

Inspired by Christine? If you would like to share a personal success story with us on the blog, email blog@flywheelsports.com

Read more success stories here.