Orangetheory Fitness: Maximum Workout, Maximum Results


Mike Calawerts. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

As the freshness of a new year slowly fades away (and as the winter doldrums slowly begin to claim us all), it’s easy to let New Year’s Resolutions dissolve into distant memories of idealistic self-improvement. A workout becomes the last thing on anyone’s mind as the lights dim in the office and rush hour traffic is the only thing standing in the way of ordering takeout and starting a Netflix marathon. But what if your gym wasn’t a typical gym? What if your workouts were designed specifically to give you the best results without signing your life away to hours and hours on the treadmill? At Orangetheory Fitness, an enjoyable, personalized workout designed to maximize your time DOES exist, and you’ll be in and out the door in just a little over an hour.

Orangetheory Fitness was created by Ellen Latham, founder and creator of “The Ultimate Workout,” a highly successful interval workout program. Latham used “The Ultimate Workout” to build the foundation for Orangetheory Fitness, creating a workout that is accessible yet challenging to exercisers of all levels.  Orangetheory Fitness is sweeping the nation, and it has become increasingly popular in the Midwest. Out of the 69 locations across the United States and Canada, three studios are located in the Twin Cities Metro area. In addition to the existing locations in Uptown Minneapolis, Plymouth, and Maple Grove, a new studio in Apple Valley will be completed soon.

Orangetheory Fitness utilizes the increasingly popular “high-intensity interval workout” for exercisers to achieve great results. A high-intensity interval workout consists of multiple exercises done at a high intensity; short, hard blasts of activity are paired with brief moments of rest to create circuits of cardio and strength training exercise. Mike Calawerts, the General Manager and head trainer at Orangetheory Fitness on West Lake Street, explains that the Orange 60 workout is a five-zone interval heart-rate training. “The workout uses rowing, treadmill exercise, and different events in the weight room (dumbbells, kettlebells, TRX strap training, Bosu balls—all of the toys) to train the body for strength and endurance. This ultimately contributes to weight-loss and improved physical performance.”

A unique aspect of the Orangetheory Fitness program is the amount of data used to create the ideal workout for each participant. Calawerts notes, “It’s all heart rate guided. When members come in, we figure out their heart rate zones for them. We want to get people into the ‘Orange Zone’ which is 84-91% of a person’s maximum heart rate for twelve to twenty minutes.” The workout is designed to produce Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC), which allows the body to burn 200-400 additional calories for 24-36 hours after the workout. In order to make up for oxygen lost during exercise, the body metabolizes body fat at an increased level to recover. In less scientific terms, EPOC is referred to as “after burn,” a state where you continue to burn calories after an intense workout has ended.

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

What sets Orangetheory Fitness apart from other high intensity workouts is that members of Orangetheory are able to discover their true exercise capabilities through the use of individual heart rate monitors. In a traditional workout, people don’t have the luxury of seeing their true heart rate data and may not reach the anaerobic threshold (84-91% of maximum heart rate), which is where the most beneficial exercise takes place. Calawerts states, “In my experience, most people regularly work out in a range between 60-80% of their maximum. While there are really good benefits to working out at that level, to really transform your body, that work has to be at a higher level.” Calawerts explains that all workouts at Orangetheory are monitored by trainers who keep an eye on people’s numbers to be certain that members are getting challenging, yet safe, workouts in the most ideal zone for weight loss. Exercisers are able to actually see if they are reaching their target heart rates and are therefore able to hold themselves accountable for the effort they put in. After the workout, participants receive copies of their heart rate levels—instant proof of tough work and progress.

Because the workout is modifiable and monitored by heart rate monitors, participants don’t need to worry about being pushed to an intensity that is unsafe for their fitness levels. Calawerts assures, “We have a safe and effective measure of your abilities because our coaches can track exactly what you’re doing. If we think you’re working too hard, we’ll tell you to slow down. Sometimes we have to tell our veterans to work out harder to hit their numbers.” This close monitoring creates a safe environment for people to push their physical boundaries. Calawerts encourages people of all fitness levels to try Orangetheory Fitness. “Whatever your fitness level is, we can coach you into your Orange zone whether you walk, jog, run, bike, or elliptical. It’s typical for a class to include a high-end recreational triathlete next to a grandmother of five next to a fit mother next to someone who is fairly nervous about starting a workout.”

Many people experience some anxiety when it comes to working out in a group—even die-hard athletes like Calawerts get nervous before starting a new fitness program. But Calawerts encourages people to try a class for free and see for themselves. “The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly…as a personal trainer, I love seeing how motivated and encouraging people are when they’re here.” While people can work out with an intensity that is safest for the individual, people still receive the sense of support and motivation that comes with working out in a group.

For people who don’t think they have time to get in shape, Calawerts notes that Orangetheory Fitness is a great way to maximize the time you spend at the gym. Even three to five hour-long sessions per week can result in major improvements. Members are allowed to choose the amount of exercise that is right for their bodies and their schedules; while some members may choose to attend sessions five days per week, others enjoy the benefits of one Orangetheory workout per week. A serious fitness guru might choose to attend sessions in addition to other workout routines, while others may stick simply to Orangetheory sessions. No matter what your current fitness routine looks like, there’s a place for an intense Orangetheory workout.

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Orangetheory Fitness offers flexible pricing with a variety of memberships and packages to choose from. Participants can choose from basic memberships or premier unlimited memberships, or they can simply buy packages for a certain number of classes. Plans range between $59-159 (according to the amount of classes taken per week), which is comparative to the cost of fitness plans at other facilities. Before purchasing a package, potential members are encouraged take advantage of a one-week free trial to see what everyone is raving about!

Orangetheory Fitness is changing the way our society views workout regimens. “We maximize your hour. You don’t come in and do the traditional 40 minutes of cardio and 60 minutes of weight-training. We get all of that done with the instruction of a coach and heart rate-guided training in 60 minutes.” Calawerts believes that people who work out at Orangetheory Fitness are making the best investment possible for both their health and wallet. “You get more bang for your buck, working harder for a short duration.” With Orangetheory Fitness, you’ll be able to enjoy the time you put in at the gym while still having time for everything else life has to offer.

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