Now baby, don’t you stop it, stop it!” That’s the first song playing when my Sunday morning Orange Theory Fitness class kicks off. Kicks off is an understatement, a blast off is more like it, since the trainer has the class up and at ‘em. After listening to his motivational shout outs, I’ve only got one thought on repeat: succeed. And succeed we do, since after attending to group A, the treadmill crowd, the trainer heads over to correct and adjust the group B on the straps. Group B is doing sort of an aerial push up in reverse on suspension trainers based on “core and functionality”, called “SBT suspension training™” in Orange Theory lingo. It’s one of the things that make Orange Theory “very much a full-body workout.” There’s a rowing machine component to the workout as well, making it a three-tiered system.
“Don’t let that butt go down!” I feel like a salute is in order here, but since we’re in the throes of our workout, I settle for a mental response: sir, yes sir! “One, two, don’t make this hard! Come on, people!” Surprisingly, we’re all smiling as we “step lunge, step together!” around the energetic orange room that’s got words like “power” and “achieve” stencilled along the periphery. The trainer is the best example of what makes it addictive: he’s upbeat and positive, he’s in charge and he radiates health. I want to feel like that and I want to look like that, and it’s easier to focus on goals when you’ve got a trainer that makes it nearly impossible to feel unmotivated. “Base pace,” he calls out, shooting a glance up at the monitor that displays student heart rates.
This is Orange Theory, and it’s a type of interval training made interesting and effective. It’s so much fun that the people working-out say they don’t notice the time go by. “The heart rate is the key focus of Orange Theory,” explains the trainer after class while setting up for the next round of students. “We do what a personal trainer would do and we foster a friendly competition. I like to tell people to compete with themselves.” And compete they do- one of the students tells me she’s seen the difference in her performance (and yes, her body) in just a few classes: “Cardio-wise, I can run longer and last longer. I see a lot of toning and I’m slimmer, more firm.” So how does it work? “You monitor yourself, and it’s all self-paced,” he explains referring to the heart rate tool, helping you determine if you could be working harder or if you should be taking it down a notch, thus maximizing your 60 minutes. It’s also great for those trying to shed a few pounds- a sustained routine of “three to five sessions per week” can help you lose three to five pounds per week, according to their website and to some of the class who practice consistently.
Divided into two groups, the class take turns on the treadmill and the training area. You’re fitted with a belt that sends information to a screen on what phase of heart rate you’re in while you workout. The phases are marked red, blue, green and yes, orange. The trainer explains that “the green zone is about 70 to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate,” and throughout the class he watches for the students entering red: “I bring them down, it’s all about the appropriateness of the workout,” he says. The appropriateness of the workout is another factor that sets Orange Theory apart from other interval training regimes; you’re actually able to self-monitor and your trainer is also watching. Both of these things ensure that it’s time well spent and that you’re not overdoing it (or underdoing it), something that is notoriously hard to do without professional help. The Orange Theory trainer is less like a drill sergeant and more like the head coach of a winning team. He wants you to win- and this makes you want to win.
We’re at the end of the class, and a Prince remix is pumping, “Can you feel the heat, the heat between you and me?” Heat indeed, the class files out smiling and flushed; they look happy and yes, they look hot, emanating that sexy glow that only comes from real physical exertion. This is the workout that guarantees the results you’ve been looking for pre-wedding, thanks to a high energy group dynamic and a trainer that won’t let you down. “Orange Theory is the spitting image of how you want to be,” says one hard-core devotee to me as he heads out of the class. He’s right, when I look around I see people satisfied with themselves, and I too am satisfied. It’s how I want to be.