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Activly Engaged: Andrea Orris


From Elite Gymnastics to Training Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Andrea Orris is on a Mission to Dismantle the Old Gymnastics Culture and Make it Safe and Healthy for All Ages


Photo by Fuji J @j.aggabao

On June 24, 2020, Netflix released a powerful documentary about Dr. Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics national team physician. Nassar pled guilty to seven counts of sexual assault of minors. He was sentenced to 175 years in prison on January 24, 2020. Less than a month later, he received an additional 40-125 years after pleading guilty to three more counts of sexual assault of minors. The evidence and testimonies against Nassar are overwhelming, one of the survivors being Simone Biles, an American artistic gymnast. She is America's most decorated gymnast and the world's third most decorated gymnast, winning four gold medals. It makes you wonder, what goes on in the world of Elite gymnastics? Is it a dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle masquerading as a sport, or is it a sport that lost its purpose? Either way, this documentary sparked a national conversation, and Andrea Orris was proud to be a part of it.


When you were sick as a child, did you ever question if you were ill? Probably not, because that's not a child's typical response. A typical response would be notifying an adult. That wasn't the case for Andrea. One day, while participating in one of her two grueling practices of the day, Andrea felt ill, to which she responded:

My stomach was killing me. We were tumbling on the rod floor doing double pikes. I didn't know if I had to use the bathroom or throw up. I asked to go to the restroom, but nothing came out. We were routinely accused of faking illness/injury as an excuse to get out of practice. So I kept questioning myself, "Am I actually sick, or is this just in my head? Am I just a little bit sick, but not too sick to stop? Keeping it to myself felt like the safer option. So I kept tumbling

Suddenly, Andrea vomited on the floor while waiting in line for her next turn, "my coach looked at me, said 'I'm not cleaning that up.' Although the receptionist called her mom, no adults cleaned up the mess or even offered to help her do it; She had to clean it up as best as she could given the circumstances. She eventually discovered that she had the flu and spent the remainder of that day vomiting. She was back at practice the next morning. That is just one example of old gymnastics culture; Unfortunately, there are many more. Luckily, Andrea's gymnastics journey

Photo by @hatboxphotography_dance

started differently than how it ended. She started her career at seven years old, after being recruited by her sister's gymnastics coach, to which she responded, "I'm not sure why he recruited me. It was probably because I always had an athletic figure, plus he knew that I wanted to play in the foam pit. He said that I could play in it if I signed up for a class, so I did." She quickly excelled through the different levels of gymnastics, skipping levels seven and eight and going straight to level nine. She also developed an eating disorder, which was encouraged by many coaches at that level. In Plano, TX, she trained at the elite level for one year before returning to level 10 for several seasons. By this time, gymnastics had become the center of her life; Athletes were required to be home-schooled, "We had to be. You don't have time to do anything else." Finally, her body had had enough during her senior year of high school. She spent that year 'in a combination of being on bed rest, hooked up to EKGs, ED rehab, nearly dying from heart complications and depression.' However, there was light at the end of the tunnel; She received a full scholarship, for gymnastics, to Illinois State University. After graduating in the summer of 2011, she was hired as an assistant coach at Illinois State University by Bob Conkling. She became an entrepreneur in October 2019, when she started teaching stretching classes for both adults and children, "Adult bodies can do gymnastics. It shouldn't be frowned upon if you want to start a new sport at an older age." Shortly after starting her latest business venture, COVID-19 erupted and forced millions of people to adjust their business techniques; Andrea was one of those people. Accepting the challenge, she began hosting virtual classes, attending house-calls, and broadcasting live on Instagram. As a result, a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader reached out to her; Her coach recommended Andrea. She trained the cheerleaders for a few months, creating customized classes for them.


Fast forward to today, and Andrea is still doing what she loves, "I work with a lot of kids, and I encourage them to love themselves and their bodies because I'm not a trainer that advocates weight loss. I'm a trainer that is going to help you build muscle and skills." Although she still struggles with body dysmorphia at times, she has a much healthier relationship with food and exercise, to which she responded, "I don't count calories. I count my blessings." For more information regarding Andrea's services, contact her via Instagram (@andreaorris) or email at stretchwithandrea@gmail.com.

ACTIVLY ENGAGED

-the blog-