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Orangetheory takes science, fitness to the next level (Tina Irizarry)

Orangetheory takes science, fitness to the next level

Just when you think you're pushing yourself to the limit, there is a new fitness trend that might convince you otherwise. Orangetheory Fitness is the hottest new workout, with studios spreading like wildfire across the DMV and the country.

I thought, why not put this theory to the test? I signed myself up for a Saturday afternoon class at the Ballston, Virginia location.

As I walked into the glowing, orange room, I was given a heart-rate monitor to wear just below my sternum; this monitor kept track of my vitals and broadcast them on a television for the entire class to see. (If that doesn't motivate you, I don't know what will.)

An Orangetheory session is made up of three components: treadmill interval training, rowing, and weight training. The class was split into groups of about 10 people. My group started on the rowers, while other groups were either getting on treadmills or doing strength training. During the 60-minute workout, I cycled through each station three times.

"Orangetheory workouts are based off of EPS (endurance, power and strength) and you get all three for every workout. We consider our workouts to be a one-stop shop," explains Mark Steverson, owner of Orangetheory Fitness Ballston.

What sets Orangetheory apart from other workout trends is the science behind it. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), also known as the afterburn, is what Orangetheory strives to increase. Spending more time in the orange zone is what helps EPOC kick in. You might be asking yourself, "What does that even mean? I feel a major burn after I workout at my gym or any gym."

"When you leave here, your body is still exerting so much energy and you're taking in so much oxygen to repair your body and repair your muscles that you continue to burn calories for about 24 to 36 hours post-workout," says Steverson.

By providing each member with a heart-rate monitor, Orangetheory can monitor your five zone interval training sessions.

The five zones are gray, blue, green, orange, and red.

  1. Gray zone: 50-60 percent of your maximum heart-rate. This is the most comfortable zone.
  2. Blue zone: 61-70 percent of your maximum heart-rate. This is your warm-up period.
  3. Green zone: 71-83 percent of your maximum heart-rate. This is your comfortable and doable fat burning zone. You should stay in this zone for 25 to 35 minutes of your workout.
  4. Orange zone: 84-91 percent of your maximum heart-rate. This is your uncomfortable zone, which creates EPOC. You should stay in this zone for 12 to 20 minutes of your workout.
  5. Red zone: 92-100 percent of your maximum heart-rate. This is where you empty your tank.

During the 60-minute workout, your instructor will continuously push you to hit your orange zone. Multiple intervals are designed to produce 12 to 20 minutes of training at 84 percent or higher of your maximum heart-rate, known as the orange zone. This creates EPOC, so you can continue to burn calories after your workout.

All of the intervals are based off of a base pace, push pace, and all-out pace. According to Steverson, base pace is a conversational pace. You should be able to talk to the person next to you and be able to maintain that for about 20 to 30 minutes. Your push pace is when your heart rate starts to get to the orange zone. Your all-out pace is going to be at about 92 percent and above your target heart-rate. "During your all-out pace, you should be on the board as orange or red," says Steverson.

"If you are a little on the deconditioned side, you may find that you are spending more time in the orange or red zone," says Steverson. "And as you get used to the workout and you kind of understand your perceived exertion, you will be able to scale back and time your zones perfectly."

After my 60-minute workout, my arms and legs felt like Jell-O, but mentally I felt great! I felt energized for the rest of the day and thought to myself, "I could do this three or four times a week and really enjoy it." Having a workout you enjoy that has science behind it might be the way to get that summer body you've been dreaming about.

According to my performance summary that was emailed to me after class, I stayed in the orange zone for 13 minutes and burned 421 calories. Steverson says the average person will burn an additional 15 percent of what he or she burned in class. This means that 36 hours after I took the class, I will have burned around 485 calories.

Do you want to feel the "Orange effect?" The company offers a free first time trial class. You can sign up by clicking here.