In terms of fitness trends, OrangeTheory Fitness has got to be at the top. It’s got BodyPump and spinning beat in terms of unique ways to pick things up and put them down and after going to one class I can tell you that it is for sure developing its own set of cult followers. Hosted in five boutique locations across the city, OrangeTheory Fitness came to Houston just over a year ago and is only getting more popular–the newest franchise just opened at Town and Country a month ago.
So what makes it so
attractive addictive? The combination of high intensity interval classes with targeted heart rate monitoring.
Since arguably 95% of the classes online are Orange60, I signed up for one at the Tanglewood location with Duvi. The Orange60 class is a 60-minute class that alternatives time on rowing machines, treadmills, and the weight floor.
Green? I thought this was an orange-themed thing. Should I change?
I show up for my first class early (they call newbies “green stars” and require you to get there 30 minutes for orientation). Duvi orients me on the equipment and I begin the class long struggle with my heart rate monitor and strap (spoiler: it never worked). While I’m fussing with the heart monitor straps and clips, the other members are all corralled in the lobby–nobody is in the actual fitness room and I’m borderline freaking out because lawd knows what I’ve just gotten myself into. We can’ t bring our cell phones inside (it messes with the heart monitor Bluetooth). So I’m 1. bummed I can’t live snap this experience 2. concerned as to what strange things are about to occur beyond those orange tinted doors. 3. wondering why everything in this place is orange (spoiler: the CEO is from Florida).
After a few announcements, Duvi pushes open the classroom doors and we are swept into a room bathed in a eerie orange glow. One look at the room and I feel my chest tightening (or was that because of my heart rate strap?) as I gaze down the narrow hall lined with 14 treadmills and 14 rowing machines, ending with the
torture station weight floor with 14 stations for lifting and TRX suspension straps hooked onto the wall. The combination of the bumping pop music with the orange tinted lights reflecting off the mirror lined walls makes me feel like I’m in an arcade or in a pinball machine. The classroom seems to be more conducive to a rave than a workout. Note to self: next time bring glowsitcks.
All over the room are big TV screens with everyone’s name, heart rate % (based on your height and weight), and calories burned. As you work out, your heart rate is indicated by different colors–green for weight loss zone, orange for cardio and red for max heart rate zone. “Splat” points are earned for ever minute spent in the red and orange zones. The theory behind the class is that alternating your heart rate up and down allows for you to burn calories for up to 36 hours following your original workout.
Row, row, row your boat
Before I know it, I find myself on a rowing machine alternating between intervals of rowing and squats and remembering how foreign I am to land sport activities (see my adventures with running here). After about 6 minutes, my group switches to the treadmills (“treads” if you will) and starts doing intervals of base, push (2mph above base) and all out. After completing a half marathon earlier this year, this part of the class was by far the easiest for me. I probably should have pushed myself further (I do love sprints!) but my darn heart rate monitor wasn’t working!!! The whole point of the class was kind of shot for me because I was basically in the grey 30% zone–aka sleeping–for the entire class. Ugh. So basically the class for me was just a group cardio workout interspersed with some weights. I liked the concept, but it was nothing too special.
Next we moved to the weight floor. A TV plays cartoons demonstrating the different workouts and lists the number of sets. The OrangeTheory class layouts change every day to ensure that you don’t get a chance to build muscle memory. The first interval on the weight floor involved various sets of dumbbell curls. Then we rotated back to the rowers and treads for more interval work. When we came back to the weight floor we did these things called “pop jacks” (kind of like a half burpee), and pull ups on the TRX suspension straps (aka straps hooked onto the wall, which you use your own body weight as resistance). I was quite tired by the end. For the final four minutes, the whole class convened on the weight floor for some abs work and stretching. When you’re done with the class, your heart rate results are emailed to you.
Not quite yet a cult member…
Overall, I liked the class because I hate lifting weights but they made me feel comfortable and powerful while doing an exercise I normally think is awkward. Also my heart rate monitor didn’t work so I would like to push myself more on the cardio using that as a guide. The trainers are probably paid to say the class is for anyone–you can power walk instead of run, modify the lifting exercises etc. but after attending the class I would disagree and say “anyone” means athletes who are wildly competitive. Hence, the cultish tendencies of some of the people there who attend 5+ days a week. It’s very intense to be sprinting all out next to someone you don’t know. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable and okay with having your name and heart rate info projected on a TV the entire class. The classes are definitely built for the person with fulfilling their fitness goals. Even on the waiver that you fill out, they ask what are your fitness goals, and how serious are you in fulfilling them. Read: we don’t half ass it here. Neither should you.
Does this sound like something you’d like to try? The first class is free. You can sign up here (tell them It’s Not Hou referred you!). Be sure to reserve your spot well in advance because classes fill up!
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