This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world. I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio. I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.
So I have committed to trying something new each month and to write a review about it. By no means do I pretend that these are objective reviews. Think of this as more my opinion as a fitness expert (it does say opinionated fitness guru in the title). Also, there may be things I don’t like that you do. I am not here to debate, just stating my thoughts because my name is in the url.
I must admit, OTF (that’s what the regulars call it) was on the top of my list of classes to try. I love High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), especially in a group setting where you all get to suffer together. I am also a fan of the simplicity of something like OTF and appreciate how much this place has their business dialed.
From the moment I booked the appointment online, I was amazed at the efficiency of OTF’s system. Booking a free class online was super easy. Immediately after I booked, I received a confirmation email with all the regular rules and regulations the go along with appointments, but it also had detailed information about what to expect. It let me know location, where to park, what time to arrive, what would happen when I arrived, how the class was laid out, etc. Very helpful for a first-timer.
The day of the class, I arrived the 25 minutes early they suggested. I was greeted at the door with a cute, welcome sign with my name and the 4 names of the other first-timers on it. One of the ladies at the desk took me on a tour, showed me where I could store my stuff, gave me a heart-rate monitor, help set up my station, and watched my rowing form. By the time class started, I felt pretty comfortable.
Class is set up in 3 blocks – rowing, treadmill or spin bike, and weights. You spend about 20 minutes at each station and run through 2 sets of intervals. I started on the rower and the coach incorporated distance sprints with reps of a squat and press for our first interval and then timed sprints for the 2nd interval set. The treadmill station used incline and speed against time for the intervals, and the weight section went through 2 different weight routines.
The cool thing about class, is that you are at the same number station as you move about. I was station 1, which meant station 2 was always to my left. This was great because, as it turns out, station number 2 lady was super nice, an OTF regular, and super helpful if I got a little lost with what was going on in the class. It was kind of nice to travel from station-to-station with a new friend next to you.
The whole story behind the “Orange” in Orange Theory is that they want you to get at least 12 or more minutes in the “Orange” or “Red” heart-rate zones. These zones represent a heart-rate 85% or higher of your max heart-rate. They calculate max heart-rate by subtracting your current age from 220.
Throughout the class, the coach came over 4 or 5 times to make sure I was getting along ok. Throughout class, your heart-rate, zone, and time spent in the “Orange” and “Red” zones are all displayed on a screen under your name. It is sort of fun because you can have a friendly competition with the others in the class. Class was energetic and went by pretty quickly. After class, the coach took the time to go over my heart-rate and explain what each of the numbers meant.
After I left the studio, I was sent an email with my stats from class (see right) and more information about membership. Again, the process was so dialed-in and efficient.
Cons: Using a calculation of 220 minus your age to establish your max heart-rate is the easiest and fastest way, but definitely not the most precise. I understand why they do it this way as it takes no equipment and could be calculated by a 3rd grader, but it could mislead people into thinking they are working harder or easier than they really are. I spent 35 minutes in the “Orange” and “Red” zones and class was a workout, but definitely not a “killer”. T
The weights section of the class was creative, but not super challenging. It was hard to get my heart-rate high during this part and I didn’t feel like I got a whole lot out of it. However, keep in mind, I do lift on my own 3-4 times a week.
Pros: As I stated above, they have their system dialed. It is so smooth, so beginner-friendly, and so professional. Even the workout was organized and methodical (and if you know me, this is a HUGE plus in my world). I also like that they use common exercises like running/walking and rowing to do most of the intervals. The simplicity allows for people to find good form and adjust as needed.
The staff was friendly, helpful, and always checking in on me. Before class, during, and after I was never standing around feeling lost. Someone always had their eye on me to make sure I knew where to go or what to do. The studio was well-designed and organized, they kept it cool and had good air movement, and the music was pumping.