By Cool J in Minneapolis
Sunday Funday indeed! It was an action-packed end to this past weekend for me.
But this post is about a fresh new fit at Orange Theory Fitness. I wasn’t even sure what Orange Theory was when it first appeared in Minneapolis. One of my friends thought it was a smoothie or fruit shop, and I can definitely see why. The citrus theme can be a bit confusing!
But I started to hear people talk about this workout, and how much they loved it. Then I found out that the studio offers a free trial week for new clients, so on Sunday, my friend Megg and I gave it a shot.
There are probably 20 people in each class, and we were immediately split into two groups. One group started on the treadmill and one group started on the rowing machines. As newbies, Megg and I had to go through a quick introduction with the trainer, during which she gave us an overview as to what the class would entail. We were fitted with heart rate monitors, and seated at the rowing machines.
The rowing workout seemed more like a quick warmup for our half of the group, but I didn’t mind the non-impact cardio. It was an efficient full-body warm up before our half of the group headed to a different room for a circuit workout. In this room, there were three circuits, with a variety of exercises, such as:
1. lunges with hammer curls
2. quick feet on the BOSU ball
3. push-ups on the BOSU ball with knee hikes
4. squats with shoulder presses with a medicine ball
…plus many more. Each circuit had about 4 exercises that we repeated again and again for about 5 minutes on each circuit.
The instructor cued those of us on the circuit with one headset, while she cued the half of the class on the treadmills with the other headset.
The circuits were decent- not quite as hard as the kettlebell classes that I have been taking at Balance Fitness, but pretty good nonetheless. Throughout the class, you could monitor your heart rate on a TV monitor, which clearly reflected which heart rate “zone” you were in. There were blue, green, orange, and red zones. My understanding of the “Orange Theory” is that the goal is to spend a certain amount of time in the orange zone, with some time in the green, and a short amount of time in the “red” when we’re really pushing it on the treadmill.
I found it interesting to see not only where my heart race was during the workout, but also to see how quickly (or slowly?) it recovered after reaching the “all-out” pace. I think that recovery is also really important, as both a sign of cardiovascular fitness, as well as to ensure we didn’t push ourselves way too hard.
I happened to notice that my workout partner Megg’s heart rate recovered almost immediately after her all-out pace. That girl must have good cardiovascular fitness!
Personally, I was a little frustrated that even though I felt like I was really going all-out on my all-out pace, I barely spent any time during the workout in the red zone. But Megg made me feel a little better by pointing out that as marathon runners, our heart rates might be a bit more conditioned to stay in the fat burning and sugar burning zones (the blue and the green) a bit longer than perhaps a typical “gym rat” or recreational runner. In fact, the person next to her on the treadmill told her that another marathoner had to really pump things up just to hit the orange zone on his first go around.
Each of the two segments (rowing + circuits, and treadmills) were about 25 minutes long. The last ten minutes were spent with a little more core work, and then a cool-down/stretch.
The instructor (Mallory) took the time to discuss the “Orange Theory” training method with Megg and me after class, and also discussed diet and nutrition with us a bit as well. She seemed to be well-informed and was friendly.
I can’t accurately rate the class after just one session. I plan to go back several times this week during my trial period to help me better develop a more unbiased review of this workout. But from my first experience, I would say that it is an effective workout. And many people there shared multiple success stories about significant personal weight loss. And I was sore the next day- success in my book!
I would venture to say that this class is not necessarily for beginners. Granted, I’ve only taken one class, but the instructor didn’t break down the moves on the circuits all that much, nor did she offer a whole lot of adjustments on form. I was fine with that, as I was familiar with most of the moves, but it might be tough for someone newer to fitness.
I do believe that the “orange theory” seems pretty valid. The hour-long workout combined a challenging cardio workout with a strength training routine in a succinct format that allowed each individual to push themselves at their own level, based on their personal fitness level.
I’ll be back again soon with an update if my opinion changes, but for now, I would recommend Orange Theory Fitness to all of you!