As I left the salon today, I detoured across the street into Orange Theory Fitness. My motivation for summer shredding has been lacking a bit, and I credit this to the fact, this is the first summer in 5 years that I don’t plan on stepping on stage. While I am still in the gym 5 to 6 days a week, I need a change. After doing some research about OrangeTheory Fitness, I was intrigued. The “theory” behind OrangeTheory seems to be scientifically based, and this science nerd is all about the whys, hows, and facts behind everything. All of us fitness enthusiasts know that interval training in comparison to steady-state cardio burns more calories post-workout, and that is why interval training is so incredible!!
So, after two weeks and two workouts at two different locations, I can share my thoughts on the “theory.”
My first OT experience was shared with two of my girlfriends, Kaitlyn and Kelly. We all three headed into OT last week with a water bottle and no expectations. We arrived about 15 minutes early to fill out any needed waivers or paperwork. The first initial impression was, welcoming. The girl working the front desk was friendly, energetic, and eager to offer assistance. People continued to trickle in, but with only 5 minutes to spare before class starts, we had no idea what we were going to be doing. The instructor was nowhere in sight. The front desk girl apologized for the instructor’s tardiness and took us into the gym area. We were instructed to take our pick of either a rower or a treadmill (not really knowing why). I personally never felt uncomfortable (only because I am familiar with the unfamiliar when it comes to group fitness), but Kaitlyn and Kelly (a bit newer) were probably a bit uncomfortable. I tried to offer what advise I could regarding rowing techniques while we were warming up, and then about a hundred meters or so in, the instructor arrived. She apologized as she jumped on the mic and got us into a warm up. I will say things started off a little rocky. She was calling out commands to the class, but not being familiar with any of their terms or “lingo,” I just rowed with intensity and assumed if I was screwing up royally, I would be called out. We continued to row with uncertainty, and all of a sudden we heard “switch” yelled out, so we just went with the flow of the others. Once we found our way to our new location, we were instructed to partner up. I told Kelly and Kaitlyn that I would fly solo and try to find a regular member and they could pair together. I paired up with another female and the workout consisted of rounds for time of treadmill sprints, rowing sprints, and dumbbell work. After 60 minutes I was a sweaty, red-faced mess. Class ended and the instructor approached us with apologies for being late, and poor presentation of the class introduction. We assured her that our workout was still great even if we were a bit lost.
After class, we were back up front to talk memberships. I chose the basic package of one session a week. This would allow me to get in 60:00 of intense cardio training each week for the next month, perfect. This is worth $59 alone, but when the girl behind the desk said she would throw in the heart rate monitor for free, I was sold!
*Class pricing varies by region, so it’s worth giving your local studio a call to find out the exact cost of a membership or class. Your first class at any OTF is free; after that, the studio’s packages start at $59 and can go up to about $200 for an unlimited plan. The average price for a drop-in class for nonmembers is $28, with a few select locations costing slightly higher than this.
Now, fast-forward another week and I came back for round 2, except this time at a new location. Last week I visited an OT in Summerlin, but because I flew solo this week, I decided to go first thing in the morning to a location 10 minutes from home.
Yesterday’s class was endurance based, meaning that we ran…a lot. We began on the treadmill with a base pace for 5 minutes, followed with just over 20 minutes of combinations with both base and push efforts. If that weren’t enough, a 1-minute all out, give it everything you got, race to the end.
After running, we hopped on the rowers for more base and push efforts combined followed with dumbbell work. After 60 minutes, my body was spent and my lungs were on fire.
What I find to be most successful about the OT approach is the use of the heart rate monitor. I began wearing a heart rate monitor years ago when I began training for my first triathlon, and have worn one ever since when it comes to cardio training. This method of training enables you to see exactly where your heart rate percentage is at all times, allowing for continual improvements.
A big screen hanging overhead continuously displays your name, heart rate, percentage of max exertion, calories burned, and “splat points” (how often your heart rate is in the “orange zone”).
Below is an analyzation of each color:
- Grey Zone (50-60% Maximum Heart Rate) – This is the safest, most comfortable zone, consisting of very light activity.
- Blue Zone (61-70% Maximum Heart Rate) – This zone is specifically geared for warm-up and cool-down exercises. You are merely preparing your body and mind for high-intensity interval training, but you haven’t unleashed the burn just yet.
- Green Zone (71-83% Maximum Heart Rate) – In this zone, you have reached a challenging but doable pace. This is what Orangetheory categorizes as “Base Pace,” a pace that you can maintain for 20-30 total minutes. Your body starts to burn fat and carbohydrates evenly.
- Orange Zone (84-91% Maximum Heart Rate) – This is where the magic happens and where you achieve “EPOC” (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) – what we call the “Orange Effect / Afterburn.” The goal is to accumulate 12 minutes or more in this zone within a 60-minute period to achieve the maximum caloric burn up to 36 hours AFTER your workout is completed.
- Red Zone (92-100% Maximum Heart Rate) – This zone happens organically and may be achieved during ‘All-Out’ efforts when you’re emptying the tank and using every ounce of energy left in your body. You don’t need to set an All Out pace for more than 1 minute at a time to experience maximum results.
This “zone” approach definitely gives you continuous motivation. I know personally, each time I looked up, if I wasn’t in the correct zone, I would fight until I reached it (this meant digging deep a few times).
Once the hour was over I felt accomplished. I took a quick snip of the board to log my totals on the way out the door, but I was informed by an OT staff member that my stats would be emailed to me within minutes (which was pretty great!)
Within minutes I received an inbox with my heart rate and zone summary.
My overall opinion of OT summed up in one word, effective. I personally will not use OT as my only form of exercise, because lifting is my jam, but when it comes to shredding… this will definitely be a great addition!
Follow along as I continue to share my experiences while exploring the versatility of fitness.