I had the chance to try a new fitness class yesterday, and I have to say – it was awesome! It was a great mix of cardio and strength training that kept my body guessing the whole time! Their marketing campaign has gone viral around Tampa with a simple piece of exercise equipment….
Yep, I checked out Orangetheory Fitness for the first time! I scheduled the class for a Wednesday night, not really sure what to expect. I knew I was in for a tough workout (I was prepared for it), but I really wasn’t exactly sure what the workout was all about. I walked into the very welcoming and brightly lit lobby, with knowledgable staff and excited participants, and the class before mine was still going on, so I was able to sneak a peek. The “orange box” is where everyone works out, and can been seen through the floor to ceiling windows that divide it from the lobby. I could see treadmills, rowing machines, free weights, bosu balls, benches, and TRX-type straps. I was in for a good sweat!
I was given a heart rate monitor to keep track of my progress in the class. Each session is limited to 30 people (at the South Tampa location) to make sure the coach can pay enough attention to everyone during the 60 minute class. Everyone’s heart rate is shown on multiple flat screens in the gym so it is very easy to keep track of. Rather than having me explain how the heart rate training works, I’ll leave that up to the Orange Theory experts, which is explained right from their website: “The physiological theory behind the Orangetheory workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. By providing you with a heart rate monitor and POD, we can monitor your 5 zone interval training sessions that we call the Orange 60. During the 60 minute workout, you will perform multiple intervals designed to produce 12-20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate, which translates to Zones 4/5. This program design produces EPOC, which is the workout “after-burn” effect, meaning that our interval training design produces a 200-400 calorie increase to your metabolism 24-36 hours after your workout.”
Before the class started, Coach Jeff took me and all the other first-timers into the workout room to give us a run down on all of the equipment. It was a very learning centric environment, which I really appreciated. Too many gyms these days just throw everyone into the same workout without enough explanation, which results in a greater chance of injury and lack of personalization. Orangetheory for the win!
The orange box was dimly lit with an orange hue, and the music was blaring. It was hard not to feel pumped up just by walking into the room! Once we all went into the class (after we lined up and all entered the room at the same time, getting a high-5 from the coach as we entered), we could pick where we wanted to start – cardio or strength first. I prefer to do cardio before weights, so that my muscles are fresh for the run, so I hopped on a treadmill. We had a bunch of different intervals, all based on what you were capable of – walking, jogging, and running. The coach shouted out different inclines and speeds that he expected us to be on for base training, as well as the different pickups. We had multiple sprints, some of them even all out. I was booking it on that treadmill – 10.5 mph for the sprints! My legs were going as fast as I could possibly push it. Don’t worry though – the sprints were short – only around 45 seconds or so. As for the walkers’ sprints, they would just increase their incline and not their speed. There was really an option for everyone.
Once the treadmill portion of the workout was finished, the groups switched and I headed over to the weight section. There was a white board with 4 different strength workouts, consisting of 4 exercises (with the amount of reps) that we had to complete as many times through during the given duration. The first was 5 minutes long, the next was 6 minutes, and the following two were each 4 minutes in length. The different exercises consisted of everything from tricep extensions with the TRX-type straps, to bench presses, to pushups, to 150m rows on the rowing machines, and some killer abs. The coach went over each and every exercise before the particular set, so that everyone knew how to perform the exercise safely. For most of the sets, I ended up getting through them 2-3 times. It was not easy! Once the strength portion of the workout was over, I could definitely feel it. I am used to lifting weights, but this was a whole other beast. Needless to say, I could feel the burn.
When the class was over, everyone gathered around the heart rate monitor screen to see their results for the day and to see if they got their heart rate into the 12-20 minutes of 84% or higher (zone 4 & 5). I learned something very interesting during this time. Never once did get out of zone 2 for the workout, aka, the green. Myself and one other person had this issue. What did it mean? Well, first off, I am only 2 weeks away from a marathon, so I am currently in peak shape. Secondly, I just have a very low resting heart rate. I was pushing myself very very hard while running sprints on the treadmill, and I would literally have fallen off if I turned the speed up anymore. I moved as fast as my legs would take me – no joke. This also made me realize that I need to focus on strengthening my legs a bit more. If my heart rate isn’t high, then I can push myself harder. I just need to have my legs handle that much of a push. Very interesting….
The biggest thing I walked away with was that this isn’t a cookie cutter gym. The people that work out here are all ages, shapes and sizes. There were 20 somethings that are in the best shape of their lives, to people looking to lose 100+ pounds (and are crazy close to reaching their goal!). It wasn’t intimidating to walk in either. All of the more seasoned participants were very nice, welcoming me to the class and seeing how my experience was. I have a pretty good feeling that I’ll be back!
Have you ever tried Orangetheory Fitness, or another heart rate based training? What did you think?
Disclosure: I wasn’t compensated for this review or post. I want to share with you my experiences of the training and of the gym.