Walking into the Orangetheory Fitness studio last Thursday night for the third stop of the Fit University Back to School Fit Crawl (seriously guys…a different free class every Thursday for a month at amazing local studios, can it get any better than that?), I never expected to get the butt kicking workout I left with. We’re talking the kind of workout where it hurts your abs to even laugh the next day and you can barely lift your arms up. Going into the class all I knew was that we would be using heart rate monitors, and that we’d start the class on treadmills (which absolutely killed the outdoor runner in me). After arriving we were all handed a chest strap and a heart rate monitor to put on, and the instructor got to telling us just what Orangetheory is all about and how the class would go.


The whole idea behind the class it to keep you active in 5 specific heart rate zones- grey, blue, green, orange, and red, with an end goal of spending 12 to 20 minutes in the orange zone, meaning you’re working at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate (they take some basic info on you before starting the class to determine this). Spending time working out in your orange zone creates what the instructor called EPOC, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, leaving you with an increased metabolic rate for up to 36 hours after your workout. In other words, by working out in your orange zone, you’ll be burning calories long after the 60 minute class is over. To keep track of what zone you’re in, there are huge screens in the studio showing everyone’s name, the color zone they are in, and the percentage of their max heart rate they are working in throughout the class. Our instructor explained that the class would be broken up into two sections- treadmill and strength, and each of those sections would be broken up into 5 minute blocks. So we had our monitors, knew what to expect, walked into our classroom beaming with orange mood lighting and make-you-wanna-dance music, and it was time to get to work.


First stop was the treadmills, and what’s great about the setup of the class is that every person can go at their own pace, either being a Power Walker, a Jogger, or a Runner. A card on the treadmill explained the different levels and inclines associated with them for when our instructor would call out which of the 3 paces we should be working at- Base, Push, and Sprint. For example, a Power Walker at Base pace would be going 3.5-4.5 mph at a 1-3% incline, where as a Runner would be going 5.5 mph or above at a 1% incline. So we started the first of the 5, 5 minute blocks getting adjusted to the treadmills and finding our comfortable base paces. Our instructor would call out when to either increase our speed or increase the incline (or both) , and each block included a Sprint section usually lasting about a minute to a minute and a half followed by a rest at base pace. I was working at the Runner pace, and within the first few minutes I was dripping in sweat and well on my way to the orange zone. The next 25 minutes were an array of different speeds and shifting inclines and after hopping off from my 5k hill workout my legs were in wobble city.orangetheory

Next we moved on to the strength section, where we each had a few sets of dumbbells, a bench, a row machine, and suspension cables. Once again our instructor went through and showed each of the strength exercises we would be doing in the 3 strength blocks. The first one was a killer on the abs, using the bench, a dumbbell, and your own body weight to get an insane burn. The second had weighted lunges, tricep curls, and ended with a killer upper body workout on the suspension cables, and the third was all about lateral raises and the row machine. Once we got going, our instructor walked around and helped give us tips on how to better our form, but it was nice to be able to go at your own pace and choose the weight you knew you could handle. The last few minutes of the class ended in an all our sprint on the row machines, followed by a nice stretch to cool down and soothe soremuscles. After the class, you’ll get an email with your stats for the workout, telling you how many times you reached each heart rate zone, and what you’re average heart rate was throughout the entire class.

On my short run to the Orangetheory studio to get to class, I was not having it. The thought of having to run on a treadmill at someone else’s pace made me nervous thinking that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. An hour later, and I could not recommend the class enough. The vibe of the studio and the awesome upbeat instructors encourage you and make you want to push yourself, but the layout of the class make it easy to push yourself at your own pace. Every workout is different; some days will be more focused on speed, others on strength, and others on endurance. While I will still always be an outdoor runner, Orangetheory showed me I am capable of being kick ass on the treadmill, and kept things interesting with a unique workout that left me feeling the burn for the rest of the weekend.



Massive shout-out to Sarah (Fit U Founder) and Fit University for providing the opportunity to try out an Orangetheory class (not to mention the 3 other stops on the Back to School Fit Crawl – BollyX, Cyc, and Glow Yoga), and for the swag bags at the end of the class filled with all your after workout protein and amino needs. If you haven’t checked out a Fit U event yet, what are you waiting for? Grab a friend and get moving.