If Casey Bartle, who was never physically able to exercise growing up and had three open heart surgeries before her 25th birthday, was able to find an exercise plan that worked for her, anyone can do it.

That’s the message she has been trying to get out ever since discovering Orangetheory Fitness and beginning an exercise plan to transform her life.

Bartle was born with a small leak in her mitral valve and a genetic condition called Marfan syndrome. She was sent to he hospital at 10 years old and had her first open heart surgery at the age of 15, her second at 16 and her third at 24. At 26 years old Bartle was given the all clear to exercise without restrictions.

“When I woke up from my surgery I was told I wasn’t going to have to have another open heart surgery,” she said. “There’s going to be some bumps in my life I’m going to have to deal with with my heart but I wanted to take care of my body.”

Bartle decided to try and find an exercise plan that worked for her unique situation but it was tough to find the right fit.

“I went through a series of trying to come up with a workout on my own but, never having been able to work out, I didn’t really know what I was doing,” she said. “I tried different trainers at different gyms but none of them, in my opinion, really took my health seriously. They had a schedule and a routine they did with their clients and that’s what they did. I would push myself to try to keep up with them, even though it probably wasn’t the best idea.”

When Bartle first tried Orangetheory she was afraid, assuming it would be more of the same.

“I met one of the owners at one of the first classes I took,” she said. “I only made it through about 20 minutes of class at the most. I told him about my story and that I was looking for a gym that I could be able to work out and know that I was being safe working out. It’s been 26 years of my life and I’ve never really done much cardio. I was just beginning. He told me all about how they’re able to customize things to what your ability is.”

She returned to Orangetheory and talked with the trainers leading the class. They helped her slow down at the right times and build up her strength. Bartle said it took a few weeks to acclimate herself but soon she was attending classes three to five times a week and she was finishing it. Now Bartle said her upper body strength has improved immensely and most of all, she feels confident.

“Everyone that I’ve talked to that has never been there before has said it looks really intimidating and it looks scary and for people who are really athletic,” Bartle said. “That’s not the case at all. If you go in and talk with them and they know it’s your first time, they can talk you through the process … If I can go in, and I’ve had three open heart surgeries, I’ve never worked out in my life, I can go in and enjoy it, anyone can.

“I feel like I’ve been given this new lease on life. When they told me I could exercise without restrictions I wanted to make sure my body was as healthy as my heart was. That was important to me. It’s important to me to feel good about myself and to feel accomplished. That’s something I never thought I would be able to do.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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