We Tried It: Orangetheory Fitness
People don't only flock to Orangetheory Fitness for the intense workout; many also like that the class is designed to maximize the so-called afterburn affect.
When it comes to working out I’m a girl on a budget, so I usually stick to weekend runs through Brooklyn or an “om" moment at a local yoga studio. I rarely skew too far away from these two activities, but when the opportunity arose to sweat-test the Orangetheory Fitness craze (along with some killer new threads from C9 Champion at Target), I couldn’t say no. There was something about this high-intensity interval training workout, which combines strength training and cardio, that had me intrigued.
As I entered a room glowing with orange lights and equipment, I was given a heart-rate monitor to wear around my chest. My vital signs were put on blast for everyone to see via overhead screens. I was hesitant, but the music was already pumping, so there was no turning back.
I hopped on the treadmill first (half of the class started with the weights) and went full speed ahead on a slight incline for seven minutes, followed by five minutes on the WaterRower. I hustled between these two machines for three cycles. After 30 minutes we switched spots: I followed the cardio portion with a series of strength training exercises, including kettlebell squats, snatches, and bicep curls, for a total of 60 minutes—without any breaks. (I made it through, even though I was a sweaty mess by the end.)
People don’t only flock to Orangetheory Fitness for the intense workout, though; many are also interested in its ability to maximize excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), also known as afterburn. This effect is why “Clients continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours after the workout,” explains Jessica Kumari, owner of Orangetheory Fitness Chelsea, the first studio in New York City. (There are more than 200 locations nationwide, and 150 more are slated to open this year.)
That’s why you wear a heart-rate monitor and the instructors continuously push you to tap into your “orange zone.” (The displays chart your progress in real time through five different heart rate zones: gray, blue, green, orange, and red). The orange zone specifically—which is 84-91% of your maximal heart rate—is the targeted range the Orangetheory folks would like you to stay in for 12-20 minutes of your training time. Doing so is what helps keep your metabolism revved post workout. Translation: you’ll leave feeling like you’ve downed a double shot of espresso.
I have to say, I found the heart rate monitoring to be extremely helpful, especially since I deal with low blood sugar, which causes my pulse to speed up and abruptly plummet post workout. (According to my performance summary, which was emailed after class, I managed to find my way into the orange zone for part of the class and burn 536 calories in the process!) It really helped me get an idea of what my workout rhythm should be—knowledge I’ll be able to take with me on my next run.
I now can say, “I came; I saw; I conquered.” So, what are you waiting for?