Last summer, I think maybe end of May, one of my coworkers invited me to a gym class that she swore up and down was going to change my life. I was hesitant, mostly for the fact that she said the class started at 5 a.m. Yep, that’s five in the morning, way before the sun even gets up. I didn’t want to, but I said yes just to appease her. One of my faults/strengths is that when I promise someone I’ll do something with him or her, I will do that thing with him or her, even if I’m on my death bed. So, at 4:30 that next morning, I struggled out of bed, got my gym clothes on, and met her on the curb in front of my house. She was a ball of excitement, and I was fighting sleep that was trying to creep back in. She was right, though: that early morning gym session changed my life.
Kayla had taken me to OrangeTheory Fitness. OTF is a high-intensity, interval training class, which usually consists of anywhere between five and 30 people. The class is led by a trainer or coach that leads you through the workout. During the class, there are three areas of the gym that you workout in: treadmills, rowing machines, and a weight room. On the treadmills, the coach leads you through three different paces: a base pace which is a challenging yet doable pace, a push pace which is either a higher incline for power walkers or a faster pace for runners and joggers, and lastly, an all out pace which power walkers max out their inclines and runners/joggers run and jog at their fastest pace possible. On the rowers, the coaches lead you through the three paces, but focusing on lowering the split time, or the time that it takes to row 500 meters. The base is 2 minutes 30 seconds, push is 2 minutes 15, and the all out is preferably less than 2 minutes. The weight room, or strength floor, is actually just guided weight training with free weights and TRX bands.
What’s different about this workout is that you’re trying to get your heart rate into what they call “the orange zone.” There are five zones for your heart rate for the class, which are gray, blue, green, orange, and red. The idea is that you spend a majority of the class in the green zone and at least 12 minutes in the orange zone. The green zone is 71% to 83% of your max heart rate, something that’s determined when you take your first class. The orange zone is 84% to 91% of your max heart rate. There are TVs around the place that show your heart rate so that you can keep track of where you’re at. The reason for the 12 minutes in the orange zone, or the Orange Theory, is that when you spend that time in that zone, you’ll burn between 300 to 600 calories up to 36 hours after the workout. Each minute spent in the orange zone is considered one splat point.
And instead of body part focuses like arm day and leg day, OTF actually switches class focuses between endurance, power, strength, and a combo of the three. Their reasoning is so that your body is continuously being worked out to improve our overall strength and fitness.
Now, we get personal…
For me, I really enjoy OTF for the fact that it is class-based and that the focus is the heart rate. I have had a few gym memberships in my time, and I do really great going and working out, but some of the problems I had with them, like any other person, is consistently going to the gym and knowing how to use the equipment. At OTF, the trainers took the time to talk to me and see what my fitness goals were.
When I started, my biggest goal was just to become fit. I’ve always been overweight and trying to get down a few dress sizes, but nothing ever stuck. But here, the staff, I feel actually tried to help me succeed. I told the head trainer that my biggest goal was regarding my butt: I want a butt so amazing that I could star in a rap video. Such a weird goal, but he told me it would be achievable, hard but achievable.
During my initial workouts, I was focusing on getting comfortable with the workouts and hitting the 12-minute goal. At the time, I was only going three times a week. I was new to working out consistently, and I didn’t want to overdo it. It was fucking hard! I was power walking on the treadmill: my base was a 1% incline and a 3.5 mph speed. At these settings, I was able to remain in the upper green zone at around maybe 80% heart rate. But because I was still new, I thought it was too much. To me, I felt I was pushing too hard, so I’d want to slow down or quit, but after looking at the screens and seeing everyone else in the class, I knew I could do it.
OTF compiles all your data on their app, so that you can review your data. As you can see above, I was fluctuating with my calories burned and my 12-minute goal, or points in the screenshot. It was hard, but after the first few weeks, I was getting in the rhythm. I wanted to get that bubble butt! But what I really noticed was how toned everything was getting. My thighs were getting firmer, my butt was getting perkier, and my arms were getting harder. I was loving it.
Then winter happened.
Around the Thanksgiving, I started slipping. I was only going a couple of times a week, and I was eating junk food, essentially preparing for Thanksgiving. The good things were that everything was staying where it was at and I was spending more time in the orange zone, but I wasn’t improving: nothing was getting firmer, and my weight stayed steady. I was stable, but I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to get.
Then, the new year came.
I made a New Year’s resolution, something I had never done before, and I told myself I’d stick to it no matter how much I wanted to quit.
It totally didn’t happen.
Then March came, and I decided to get my ass into gear and make some changes. I started eating right, prepping meals, and going more frequently. And not just going more frequently, I was challenging myself to do more when I wasn’t feeling the burn in my muscles. I was upping my dumbbell weights, I was jogging instead of power walking, I wasn’t stopping while rowing. I was doing all these things to improve and get better and to push myself. I wanted to improve my overall health.
I wasn’t paying too much attention to my weight during this time. Instead, I focused on how my body was feeling, both my state of being and physically how I felt. I noticed I was happier and had more energy and not tired as much as when I started. I also noticed that my muscles were hella firm! Even when I wasn’t flexing! Holy shit, I was getting strong! I loved it!
And I think I succeeded!
I’m at the point now where I’m enjoying my new and improved body and sharing my successes with everyone. For instance, this morning while I was getting dressed, I put on a shirt I hadn’t worn in a few months. Before, I had a bit of stomach pooch sticking through the shirt. Now, it’s actually loose on me! As soon as I got to work, I showed everyone that was willing to listen to me brag about it. I even went around and had people poke my thighs to show how rock solid they were! Yeah, I’m that person now.
My favorite part is that my underarm wings are going away and my arms are getting so toned. When I flex, I can see and feel a lot muscle definition.
Right now, there’s still a lot of work, but I’m so happy with the progress that I don’t want to stop any time soon. I mean, I went to a class right before I started typing this out.
As you can see, I’ve burned almost 60,000 calories so far this year! And not just looking at my numeric success, I also feel great! And that right there, I think, is the biggest success.