The first time I saw a spray-painted, bright orange bicycle chained up to a bike rack in downtown Corvallis, it seemed odd, but I didn’t think much more about it until I saw a second one. And then a third. I found myself wondering if Oregon State University was pulling some kind of weird marketing stunt, so I put my research skills to the test and Googled “bicycles spray-painted orange.”
I was correct in my guess that it was a marketing stunt, except it had nothing to do with the Beavers. Turns out that when orange bicycles begin appearing in your community, it is a sign that the newest fitness craze, Orangetheory, is coming to your town. At that point I asked the Google Gods the next most logical question: “What is Orangetheory?”
Created by a trained physiologist and headquartered in South Florida, Orangetheory Fitness is a franchised chain of studio gyms that offer cardiovascular and strength-training interval classes. It is one of the fastest growing chains in the highly competitive fitness industry, with a goal to have over 900 studio locations by the end of 2017.
The classes feature exercises done in three different stations: on a treadmill, on an indoor water-rower, and on the weight room floor using a variety of equipment. The aspect of Orangetheory that makes it stand out from all the other boutique gyms like barre3 and CrossFit is that participants wear a heart rate monitor during class, with real-time readings displayed on a big screen hanging on the wall of the studio.
Personally, I have tried every fitness craze that has existed in Corvallis, and none of them have been the right fit for me. From doing Bikini Boot Camp at 5 a.m. with a bunch of sleep-deprived ladies, to Zumba and even kickboxing, I have given them all a fighting chance. After paying the signup fees, getting myself psyched up to go, and giving it everything I’ve got for the first few weeks, I eventually end up getting bored and quitting.
The technological aspect of wearing a heart monitor and seeing the results of your hard work immediately sounded exactly like what my brain needed to keep myself engaged in a program. I learned that people can pay to take drop-in classes one at a time, or can join as a member by purchasing packages anywhere from four classes to unlimited classes per month.
I signed up for a monthly unlimited membership and patiently waited for the grand opening.
On opening day, I walked into the studio and was immediately struck by how orange everything was. The orange-tinted lighting was oddly soothing, and the walls were peppered with motivational statements such as “Be the best version of YOU” and “Good things come to those who sweat.”
It was obvious to me that this was not your average corporate gym. The fitness coach greeted me with a high five and a huge smile before putting me through what was the most intense workout I have ever done in my entire life.
By nature, I am a very competitive person. Looking up at the monitor, I thought I was competing with the others in the class. I soon realized that the only person I was competing with was myself as I tried to reach the so-called Orange Zone (when you exercise at 84 to 91 percent of your maximum heart rate).
Getting into the Orange Zone and staying there for at least 12 minutes of the class stimulates metabolism, increases energy, and causes what they refer to as the “afterburn.” The afterburn allows you to continue burning calories for up to 36 hours after the class is over.
Also, the more time you spend in the Orange Zone, the more Splat Points you receive. Splat points are basically a reward system for working your a*s off. At the end of each class you receive an email that displays the results of your workout, along with how many Splat Points you earned. Now that was what I needed, more positive reinforcement. I was hooked!
Members can sign up for classes online or on their phones via the Orangetheory app. I signed up for three classes a week and looked forward to attending each one. The class sizes were perfect, with no more than 24 to 26 participants. There was an upbeat community feel in every class I attended as members and trainers encouraged each other during the workouts.
Over time, I began to see the results of my efforts and I could tell I was losing weight. I felt stronger, more confident, and my energy levels were through the roof! For once, I was actually enjoying working out, so much so that I had become obsessed with it.
I felt a genuine connection with all the other class attendees who held the common goal of bettering ourselves through physical fitness. Somewhere I read that Orangetheory has a cult-like feel to it, and now that I had tried it, I knew what that statement meant. A cult devoted to feeling amazing and physically seeing the positive changes happening to a group of like-minded people is one I’ll gladly be a part of.
By Jennifer Moreland