I Tested Orangetheory Fitness To See If It Really Works

I Tested Orangetheory Fitness To See If It Really Works

Does the scientifically based workout that’s sweeping the nation work?
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Can we just take a minute and talk about how immensely painful and irritating finding a good workout program is? As someone who has been navigating the fitness world for more than three years, I constantly experiment with new routines and workout classes. I’ve done everything from CrossFit to spin classes, but besides strength training, I couldn’t find anything that aligned with my fitness goals.

As time went on, I began traveling down the devastating path of plateauing. So what is a girl to do? After hours of copious research, I found Orangetheory Fitness online and immediately signed up for my free first class, and now I’ve been a dedicated member for more than six months.

Orangetheory Fitness, founded by Ellen Lathem in 2009, is a one-hour, high intensity interval training (HIIT) group fitness class based on five training zones with the main focus being zones three (green zone), four (orange zone) and five (red zone).

Orangetheory’s appeal is the science behind the workout. They use an advanced heart rate monitoring system that displays the names of each member on television screens placed in the studio so clients can monitor stats such as calorie burn and heart rate throughout the workout. Orangetheory says if you spend 12-20 minutes in your orange and red zones (84 percent of your max heart rate) during the hour-long class you will experience the “after-burn effect.”

The scientific name for this is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which means your body needs more oxygen at a higher rate than it did before exercise. According to the Orangetheory Fitness website, the after-burn effect results in a 200-400 calorie burn increase for the next 24-36 hours.

Basically, 12 minutes in the orange zone equals after-burn, which equals more energy and more calories burned post-workout.

So here I am. Testing the theory behind Orangetheory Fitness.

I generally go to Orangetheory three to four times a week in conjunction with isolated muscle group training twice a week, and now that I'm six months into the program I can say that I'm really impressed.

Yes, I feel more energized.

Yes, I have toned up.

Yes, my performance has improved. I went from not being able to run a mile without walking, to running 1.44 miles in 12 minutes. I didn’t even think it was possible.

But there’s so much more to it. Beyond the positive results I’ve experienced in the gym and in my body, Orangetheory continues to keep me engaged and constantly improving. And here’s why:

Anti-plateau zone. Orangetheory’s class templates are broken down into endurance, strength, power and ESP (a combination of the three) days. The workouts change every single day to prevent plateauing and to avoid overworking specific muscles. Plus, I never get bored!

I enjoy a challenge. Orangetheory promotes their healthy lifestyle and client improvement through fun challenges throughout the year. Some are weeklong, month-long and sometimes, just a single day, but always have incentives.

  • Dri Tri – Members compete as a team to complete a 5K, a 2,000-meter row and 300 reps of bodyweight exercises in the weight room.
  • Marathon Challenge – over the month of April, members track their distance from each class to ultimately run 26.2 miles.
  • Hell Week – the last weekend of October, Orangetheory Fitness designs horror-themed workouts. If members complete five out of the eight themed classes they get a t-shirt.

I get to play dress up. Wait, I get to wear neon sweatbands, scrunchies and leotards to the gym and workout only to ‘80s music? Sign me up.

Accountability is key. Partner workouts are tough. But nothing holds me more accountable then when my partner has to row until I’m done with my part of the workout. Sorry.

The coaches are motivational. They are quick to correct form and always make safety a priority in the studio. From my very first class when they showed me proper form for the rower, to pushing me to increase my speed on the treadmill, I swear they know my limits better than I do.

Group personal training. I love that it doesn’t matter if I’m the last one on the rower because I decided to use heavier weights on the strength exercises. Orangetheory is designed so I constantly compete with myself and my past performance. On the other hand, I thrive off competition; it is a big motivator for me to perform at my highest level. Whether person next to me on the treadmill knows I’m actually trying to keep up with them, I don’t know, but I certainly know that I’m going to do my best to beat their speeds and distance.

Traveling doesn’t slow me down. With more than 350 studios in 11 countries, I can find an Orangetheory everywhere. As a member of the Orangetheory family, I have access to every single studio worldwide. Everywhere I’ve traveled since becoming a member had a studio less than fifteen minutes away.

The best one-hour workout. I love the combination of cardiovascular and strength training into one class. I have always struggled with finding a structured regime that pushes me to improve my cardio performance, but Orangetheory makes it fast and fun.

There’s no half-assing this workout. Due to the heart rate monitoring technology, coaches (among the rest of the class) can see exactly how hard I’m working, and they’re certainly not afraid to call me out. And it is super embarrassing when everyone’s working in the orange zone and I’m not.

Show me the numbers. Orangetheory emails me after every workout with stats from the class. My total calorie burn, the total time I spent in the five zones and my average heart rate. It also keeps me updated with weekly, monthly and yearly totals. Nothing shows progress like a bunch of visually appealing numbers.

I always joke that I’m “working in my orange zone” no matter what I’m doing. I believe Orangetheory has taught me a lot more than just how to row, but constantly reminds me that my ability to do anything is totally mental.

Can I run at 12 miles per hour for 30 seconds? Yes. Is it because I mentally told myself I could do it, or is it because my coach bribed me with a tequila shot? Your guess is as good as mine. Either way, Orangetheory, the supportive members and inspirational coaches helped me reach a personal record I never thought possible. I will forever #KeepBurning.

Cover Image Credit: SALT Our Kakaako

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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If Someone Tells You They've Been Sexually Assaulted, Here Are Some Steps To Helping

When worse comes to worst is not the right time to to prepare yourself to help a victim of sexual violence.

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Sexual assault is the subject that everyone would prefer to skirt entirely.

The violence of the crime, the commonality of it in today's society and the ramifications it causes all make rape and sexual assault not so easy to talk or even think about. It's easy to put distance in between your mind and this reality, telling yourself "that's the kind of thing that only happens to other people."

Similar techniques are employed with things like severe illnesses, horrific accidents, and other violent crimes. However, it's not so effective for something that affects almost 1/4th of women and 1 in 6 men. When you're face-to-face with this worst-case scenario, it's not the best time to scramble for information or next-steps. And what better time to learn this than during Sexual Assault Awareness Month?


1. Start By Believing

I cannot stress enough how important this step is.

I learned in a sexual assault survivor support group while recovering from my own rapes that if the first person a victim confides the assaults in does not believe them, there's only a 1 percent chance that they'll report the assault to authorities.

Besides that, it's important to consider all they may be risking by confiding the assault in anyone. Most rapes and sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, so survivors could be outing the true nature of their romantic relationships, might lose their jobs or even risk sustaining more physical harm from the attacker.

This is why it is so important to believe right away. Many think that to believe immediately is to choose to overlook facts when actually only between 2 and 8 percent of reported rapes are false.

Even if they tell you they were abducted and abused by a flock of alien geese with the bodies of Danny Devito, confiding trauma is a huge step for survivors, so validation is the easiest way to show your support.

2. Actions to Avoid

After an attack, often times people might feel violated, disempowered and victimized.

Because of this, tone is everything. Instead of insisting to take them somewhere—be it a crisis center, hospital, police station or even out for a beer—it's better to explain that these are your recommendations and why instead of issuing a command. Phrasing like "You need to," or "I'm going to take you," further take the power away from the victim instead of allowing them some measure of control when they've just been forced into a situation without any.

Equally important is to give them as much physical space as they need. Even if it might be coming from a place of love and support, insisting that the person touch you with a hug, hand-hold or even shoulder pat after experiencing trauma related to their body might do more harm than good. Even if you know the person and that's typically their go-to in terms of typical lines of support, check first before making any moves.

In the event of a rape, evidence can still be collected from a rape kit up to 72 hours after the assault has occurred, and sometimes even past that. With that said, if at all possible, you should encourage the victim not to bathe or clean anything related to the assault before going to the hospital.

While a trip to the hospital is neither typical nor always needed in terms of the physical health of the victim, it is better to be safe than sorry and try to avoid disrupting DNA evidence in case they make the decision to report the crime later down the line. However, as mentioned above, this decision should never be made for them, and it is typical for victims to want to bathe immediately after being subjugated to sexual violence. If the victim has already bathed, advising a trip to the hospital is still a good move.

Finally, if possible, clothing and other articles that could be considered evidence should be carefully stored in a paper bag if the victim is OK with it, as these too can be examined for evidence if they choose to press charges.

3. What—And What Not—To Say

To believe is one thing, but it's another to know just what that sounds like.

The key element in communicating with survivors is to start in empathy and not to stray from that for whatever reason. Below are some examples of phrases and questions which are commonly used in conversations with survivors but can inadvertently make the situation that much worse.

Blaming and Shaming:

"Why were you there in the first place?"

"I thought you were smarter than that."

or

"I told you they were no good and to be careful."

Minimizing the Event:

"I've heard that can happen. You should be fine."

"That doesn't sound that bad."

"It'll all be OK."

"At least they didn't..."

or

"It could've been worse."

General No-No's That Are Pretty Well Known, But Can't Hurt To Be Reiterated:

"What were you wearing?"

"How much did you have to drink?"

"You didn't try to fight back?"

"Had you hooked up before?"

All of these, even if meant well, take the blame off of the perpetrator and onto the victim. Despite the factors the victim may or may not have contributed to setting the scene, it is the fault of the perpetrator and theirs alone for committing the act. No one but yourself can be held responsible for your own actions, as no one has ever sexually assaulted themselves, nor has anyone ever been "asking for it" (What does that even mean? "Can I get a little more trauma and violation of personal sovereignty? I need a little more of that in my life. Please and thank you!") The only factor that matters is the attacker's decision to commit a crime.

Instead of blaming, minimizing or trying to contextualize what happened, your first and foremost concern should be their physical well being (it should go without saying that there would be a mental and emotional effect.) The most straight-forward way to address this is with a simple, "Are you hurt?" or "Do you need to see a doctor? I can drive you or come along if need be."

After this has been assessed, here are some phrases most survivors (myself during my recovery, certainly) would probably appreciate hearing:

"I'm so sorry that happened to you."

Disclaimer: This should be used with discretion. While this reaction was heaven-sent during my recovery, if the main reaction you're seeing from the victim is anger, it could incite a stronger one, now aimed at you.

"How can I help you?" or "What do you need from me?"

"I'm here to talk if you need it.", "Do you want me to sit/stay here with you for a bit?" or "Let me know if you need a minute/some space."

Then, once they're ready: "If you want, we can talk about your options."

4. Know What's Available

The best way to help someone after they've been assaulted is to know the resources available to them as the victim and yourself as an ally.

As mentioned before, the best first-step after hearing the victim out is to go to the hospital. It's important to note that if a person goes to the hospital and receives treatment for rape or sexual assault, there is no mandate that they must then report the assault to authorities. Even if a rape kit is performed, that can be kept as evidence if the victim chooses to report at a later date or not be used at all.

The other benefit of going to the hospital is that the medical professionals there will have a more comprehensive knowledge of the area's therapy, crisis center and counseling options which can be utilized to address the victim's mental health.

If someone does choose to report, there are a few avenues they may take. However, college students have the majority of options available to them.

For one, if both the victim and the accused are students at any state university, reporting can be pursued through the Title IX department. Even if the parties go to different universities, the schools' departments can still work together to pursue justice. Every state school has one, and it's their jobs to address and investigate sexual misconduct on college campuses. Through this, the victim may choose to pursue disciplinary action or else simply report the attack to attain any protections that may be needed. Moreover, if they choose to report but opt out of an official investigation, this report can be considered in other accusations of sexual misconduct levied against the perpetrator in the future which betters their chances of being found guilty.

University Police departments are similar in that a victim may report and pursue charges or else report merely for their own safety. However, the actions taken by University Police differ from campus-to-campus, so a comprehensive understanding of their policies should be accessed through the school's official website.

Finally, anyone, whether student or otherwise, can report to a standard police department in the area the incident took place. As with the two above options, a victim has the choice between the two types of reporting. However, criminal investigations differ from those of student misconduct, so victims and allies are encouraged to consult a Victim's Advocate for more information. These individuals are trained in offering information, dealing with the specific needs of victims, providing resources and offering support for a victim if a criminal investigation is pursued.

5. Follow Through

After having an open dialogue with the survivor, and after they may or may not have pursued one of the various resources, it's easy to wish that the whole event never happened. However, the best way to be there for a survivor is to keep the line of communication open.

People deal with trauma in many different ways, so it's important to keep the empathetic address of anything that might happen next.

While it might seem that they're "fine", or they're obviously not, you've already followed every step available to you to help them. Therefore, you're most effective now to remain an open and nonjudgmental avenue for them to turn to if they need to talk, cry or ask advice. While you should still encourage them to seek professional help, being there as part of their support system can be more helpful than they let on.

I've seen both sides of the coin—spiraling as a victim, and helping out as an advocate—but even I can't give a totally comprehensive guide to what to do in these kinds of situations. With that said, I strongly recommend referencing more official channels of getting information.

Sam Houston State University's Title IX department has links to resources and information covering a vast range of misconduct, sexual or otherwise, that may be helpful.

If you are not a student, many domestic abuse shelters feature similar opportunities to learn, whether on their websites or through events, programs and campaigns.

Finally, as this Sexual Assault Awareness Month continues on, I encourage everyone to seek out a local calendar of events so you can either teach, learn, share your story or hear others'. Like I said before when worst comes to worst is not the right time to prepare yourself, so use this month and the efforts of advocates everywhere to be ready.

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