Class crashers: Orangetheory Fitness
Other than that it’s allegedly Michelle Obama’s favourite workout and that it has something to do with monitoring your heart rate, I know little about Orangetheory Fitness when I enter their gym in Wandsworth, south London. After filling out a form, detailing my activity levels, weight, height and personal goals, I’m given a small, wearable heart rate monitor to put round my arm and our trainer, Besy, shows us the gym.
Rather embarrassingly, our heart rates are displayed on large screens above our heads. Besy explains that, when resting, our name will be displayed in a grey or blue box on the screen (indicating ‘very light activity’ and ‘warm-up’ respectively). Our active, or recovering heart rate will be displayed as green (‘challenging but doable’). The next stage (and what we’re ultimately aiming for) is the orange zone (hence the name Orangetheory), which is achieved when we increase our heart rate to 84-91% of our individual maximum. In the orange zone, we’re burning calories and fat most efficiently, which is why we want to spend as much time there as possible. If our name goes red, it means we’re working at our limit, with our heart rate elevated above 91% of maximum (‘all-out effort’). In the ‘Orange 60’ class, we’re aiming for 12 ‘Splat Points’, or 12 minutes in the orange, or red zones and will be switching between rowing machines, the floor and treadmills over the hour-long session.
I start on the rowing machines, and to my surprise, my heart rate stays stubbornly between the grey and blue zones, even though I feel like I’m working hard. Next, as we step off the rowers and do lunges and overhead lifts with a medicine ball, I start to feel my heart quicken. Soon, it’s over to the floor area. We switch between, lateral lunges, lunges and goblet squats with weights, before dropping to the floor to do Superman exercises. I notice my heart rate is lifting through green and into orange now, but I’m still struggling to keep it up for a minute to achieve my Splat Point. This all changes when I step onto the treadmill.
After walking at a comfortable pace for a minute, Besy asks us to move into a jog. I step up my speed and after a few seconds in the green zone, I determinedly notch it up again. Soon my heart rate zips through the orange zone and into red, where it stays, even when I drop my speed back down. My Splat Points start ranking up.
We return to a comfortable pace (and the green zone) for a while, before we step up our inclines. My heart rate shoots back up again, but drops as soon as I get back to rowing. Back on the floor I gather up a few more points, as we switch between weighted exercises. But it’s the treadmill that makes my heart rate soar, helping me rack up those points.
After keeping the rotations up for a whole 60 minutes, I notice I’ve achieved 24 Splat Points and burnt around 600 calories. Despite my initial embarrassment about the screens, I realise that I’ve been focussing on my own results and similarly, everyone else is concentrating on what they’re doing. I’m surprised with my results, as I feel like I could have pushed myself harder, but that’s the beauty of aiming for 84%, rather than 100%. And afterwards, I’m on a real runner’s high, feeling positively perky all evening.
For more information, or to book a class, visit orangetheoryfitness.co.uk