Every day, before her Greenwood clinic opens, a chiropractor rips a number off a poster counting down the days until the Summer Olympics.
With less than 70 days to go, Leanne Schlueter is eager for the opportunity of a lifetime. The 31-year-old Chicago native is one of about 12 chiropractors who will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the United States wrestling, judo and weightlifting teams as they compete for the gold.
Five years ago, Schlueter left Chicago in search of opportunity. After she completed her doctor of chiropractic degree, she did almost two years of graduate training in Texas, North Carolina and Florida before returning to Illinois. She had her heart set on opening her own clinic, but one that could offer “maximized living” — a different approach to chiropractic care.
In 2011, Schlueter searched as far north as Merrillville and all the way south of Indianapolis for a location to open a clinic, she said. She spent just two days in Greenwood before she signed a lease on a small office space along State Road 135 near Fairview Road. Then, with everything she could fit in her car, she left the southside of Chicago for good and moved to Greenwood, opening her clinic in January 2012, she said.
Schlueter’s approach focuses on the mind, nervous system, nutrition, minimizing toxins and exercising properly. For athletes training and preparing to compete at the highest level of competition, the regiment goes beyond simply working out a tweak in their back or neck, she said. Chiropractors who focus on “maximized living” are commonly used by athletes in training because of their balanced approach to wellness and health.
As she was balancing the challenges and responsibilities of opening her own clinic, Schlueter had the opportunity to travel around the state of Indiana, treating Olympic athletes who were training for the 2012 summer games in London, England, she said.
But when she was asked to head to London as an official chiropractor for Team USA, she had to turn the opportunity down, opting to instead focus on creating a name for herself in Greenwood at her clinic that had barely been open for six months, she said.
“I was off social media for like four months because I was (upset). All my friends were in London, but I had just opened my office. I probably could have gone, but the office was so new, to close it down for two weeks was not a good business move,” Schlueter said.
Now, four years later, Schlueter’s clinic is established and she has an associate doctor to run the office while she’s gone. So, when she got the opportunity to join Team USA in Rio, Schlueter didn’t think twice about it, she said.
The trip, which costs a little more than $2,000 just for travel and accommodations, is largely funded out of her own pocket, and she doesn’t get paid for the time she is there. All of her work with Team USA is voluntary, she said.
Most of the Olympic athletes training to compete in the summer games have little money and live in a college dorm environment, so compensation was never anything she expected anyway, Schlueter said.
The chance to be a part of something on such a grand scale is one of the opportunities Schlueter has been seeking ever since she decided she wanted to be a chiropractor more than 10 years ago, she said.
The sacrifices and the dedication of the athletes is a big motivator for Schlueter that fuels her to want to provide the best care for them out of respect for their determination, she said.
“My goal is to help serve these athletes. You look at the dedication, what these athletes have given up, if I’m in a place where I can help someone else succeed — like winning a gold medal — I’m succeeding very much at what I do,” Schlueter said.
Name: Dr. Leanne Schlueter
Profession: Chiropractor. Owner of Greenwood Family Chiropractic
Education: Bachelor’s from Augustana College in Illinois. Doctor of chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa.