It’s not surprising if you’ve heard about heart rate, or HR training before — it’s been around for years. Strapping a monitor to your chest before hopping onto the treadmill or stationary bike allows you to track your progress in real time, watching your heart rate climb as you sprint or pedal up a hill.
But beyond steady state cardio, a new interval-based approach to heart rate training is picking up steam. And Orangetheory, with 165 locations nationwide, is leading the charge. With workouts that incorporate anything from the TRX, to free weights, to BOSU balls, to rowing machines, the heart rate-driven program is designed to get you into the “orange zone.”
“Why not use this amazing tool to make sure what we’re doing is working and that we’re providing the most efficient workouts?” says Jessica Kumari, owner and developer of Manhattan, Westchester County, northern New Jersey and the Connecticut area for Orangetheory. “The technology keeps getting better — everything is becoming more integrated.”
Orangetheory: HR Training Redefined
Once your monitor is strapped on, your name and heart rate will pop up on the studio’s numerous screens in real time. The color that correlates with your heart rate will change as you increase effort, from green to orange to red. As the name suggests, the goal is to spend 12 to 20 minutes in the orange zone, or 84 to 91 percent of your max heart rate.
“It’s all about energy and our coaches are trained to make sure each workout is performed to the upmost capability so people get results.”
“Anaerobic activity starts at around 84 percent or higher of your maximum target heart rate…you can’t do it for long periods of time,” explains Kumari. “But 12 to 20 minutes in your target heart rate zone will allow a person to achieve EPOC, or excess post exercise oxygen consumption. It’s a scientific word for what we call the ‘afterburn’ effect. It can last up to 36 hours post-workout and during this time you continue to burn calories,” Kumari says.
And for the crowd that gets easily bored, Orangetheory classes are never the same as the day before. However, every day, each studio across the U.S. is doing an identical workout, meaning that exercisers in New York are doing the same routine as those in California and Tennessee. Why? Workouts are created at the brand’s headquarters in Florida and are tested extensively by their exercise scientists.
For anyone taking the $34-drop-in-rate class for the first time, plan to arrive 30 minutes ahead of the session in order to fill out a health assessment, which includes activity level, age, gender, height and weight. “Based on that information, we calculate each person’s max heart rate,” says Kumari. “We provide them with a heart rate monitor, teach them the verbiage that we use during class, and take them through equipment they may not already be familiar with.” Coaches will also spend time one-on-one with newbies discussing goals, health conditions and any injuries that could affect performance.
In the Orange Zone
“We don’t have a smoothie bar or day care — we focus solely on workouts,” explains Kumari. “It’s all about energy and our coaches are trained to make sure each workout is performed to the upmost capability so people get results. That’s what we do.”
Unlike the competitive vibe you might find at a CrossFit box, there’s little rivalry during classes. However, there is a similar level of camaraderie. “You’re never walking into a studio and people don’t know who you are,” says Kumari. “You get to know other members and coaches and feel a sense of community.”
Orangetheory’s theory is apparently working, Kumari says. The company uses a feedback service that randomly sends email surveys to people who have taken class. Their approval rating: an 80 percent, meaning that past participants are giving them 8 out of 10 marks or higher. “The survey service was so shocked and impressed with our rating that they’re doing a personal analysis of what we do, since the average score is in the 30s or 40s for fitness studios,” says Kumari. “It makes me feel good as an owner to know that people are happy with our product and that we’re making a difference in their lives.”
To try an Orangetheory class, visit their website to find a location near you.
Or, to try heart rate training at home, check out DailyBurn’s Inferno HR program, which lets you track your heart rate progress in real time from the comfort of your living room.