With 17 studios in the GTA alone, Orangetheory Fitness has become one of this city’s hottest fitness trends. Offering a unique concept — heart rate-based interval training — designed to track your heart rate progress in real-time as you work through a combination of rowing, running and strength training. The idea is that you wear a heart rate monitor throughout the class on your chest (or arm) which is synched to a screen mounted at the front of the gym. On the screen you are able to see a visual of your heart rate fluctuating within five zones: grey, blue, green, orange and red. (FYI: The red zone indicates that you may be pushing yourself too hard.)
The overall goal: to get every class participant to spend at least 12 to 20 minutes in the orange zone (known as the “sweet spot”) at 84 percent or higher of your maximum heart rate. This is what increases your metabolism, creating a longer calorie-burn following your workout. (These truffle energy bites are the perfect treat to indulge in after a good sweat sesh.) So naturally, the crew at Best Health had to check it out.
The gist of the class, according to Orangetheory Fitness
“Backed by the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), Orangetheory’s heart rate monitored training is designed to maintain a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. We call it the after-burn. Our members burn an estimated 500 to 1,000 calories in 60 minutes — and keep burning calories for up to 36 hours.”
And now, our thoughts:
Whenever I get the chance to push past my physical limits during an intense workout, one question always pains me: “Am I taking this too far?” I’ve always found it difficult to tell the difference between leveling up and almost fainting. I usually err on the side of caution (and fatigue). During the workout, I could glance up at the screen at any time and see which zone I was in, thanks to the heart rate monitor strapped to my chest. I could push myself from the green to the orange zone, but knew if I crossed the line into the red zone, I should slow down. This empowered me to push my limits, especially in the cardio portion of the class. I left feeling satisfied and with tangible proof of a workout well done: sore muscles, a “splat score” reflective of time spent in the calorie-burning sweet spot and a tally of ones already burned. — Courtney Reilly-Larke, associate editor
The Pavement Pounder
I loved the “zones” component to this class. I found it validating to see my effort and exertion displayed as a colour-coded heart rate zone and it was a great motivator to see calories and splat points tally up throughout the workout. The variety – rotating between rowing, running and strength training – kept things interesting so that the class actually felt a lot shorter than it was. One other feature I thought was really helpful was how the strength exercises were demonstrated on video screens throughout the studio. I can never remember what move is next and this solved that problem while also showing proper form for each exercise. — Melissa Greer, digital editor
The Pilates Practitioner
From the moment I stepped in the class, I was intrigued. Sure, it may of had something to do with the mesmerizing, luminous orange glow that accented the room but mostly, I was fascinated by the utter focus of everyone around me. They were all so plugged in to the workout and we had only just begun.
As we moved from the rowing machines to the floor for a free-weight and bench session, and then on to the treadmills, I constantly felt motivated by the instructor and the tunes that echoed throughout the class. But the main reason I was excited to try this class was not for it’s upbeat environment, but rather for its heart rate monitored training. So when my heart rate kept skyrocketing into the red zone (even when I felt like I wasn’t pushing myself hard), I became a little concerned. I found it odd considering I didn’t feel faint or out of breath… I felt perfectly fine.
This was a major downfall for me because throughout the entire 60-minute class, I kept glancing up at the screen obsessively to see whether or not I was in the red zone. I found that it took me away from fully being present during the workout. After speaking with the instructor at the end of class about my concern, she advised for the next one I attend to use a heart rate monitor that goes specifically on my arm. Hopefully that’ll be a different experience. — Alyssa Ball, assistant digital editor