I’m not going to lie, I’m not very ambitious when it comes to exercising. Because I have a small stature, running for any length of time is hard on my body. The idea of joining a gym and having strangers watch me attempt to lift weights sounds humiliating. But thankfully, there is a place in our great city where I can have an intense workout without too much physical or emotional pressure.
Orangetheory Fitness offers 60-minute group classes that employ both cardio and weight training exercises. Classes are led by a trainer who gives instructions and positive reinforcement throughout, and every single class is different. Each person taking the class experiences a different workout based on how much effort they can give.
“We have people come here that have never worked out a day in their life, but we also have professional athletes that come here,” says studio manager Loren Saali. “We’ll never tell you how fast to run or how much weight to pick up. It’s all about you and making the workout your own.”
Orangetheory has locations in St. Matthews and Middletown, and their brand new studio in the Highlands opens on February 16. They offer a free class to anyone interested in joining so they can experience the difference themselves. And since they have locations around Louisville and throughout the country, you can join a class anywhere at any time.
The name Orangetheory comes from the company’s system of measuring heart rate zones. The colors range from gray (very light activity) to red (all-out effort). The orange zone is the most important because it’s where most people “feel the burn.” Staying in this zone for 12-20 minutes allows for a serious metabolism boost and will result in fat loss. Instead of wearing a pedometer to measure progress, Orangetheory uses heart rate monitors worn on the wrist. The results of these are shown on a screen during the workout so you can keep track of which zone you’re in.
There are three paces applied during the class: base, push and all-out. These indicate the amount of effort given and vary from person to person depending on how active they are and what they are able to do. During different parts of the class, the trainer talks over a microphone and will tell you which pace to apply and for how long.
Before my first class, the trainer instructed me on how to use the treadmills and rowing machines, allowing me to get familiar with them before the real workout. I started out doing the free weight portion of the class, in which I did several sets of lunges and curls. The trainer gave us instructions on each exercise before we began, and a nearby TV had an animated demonstration of the exercises to guide us throughout. I felt the burn while lifting even the smallest of weights. However, I didn’t feel the need to overexert myself because I could see my fellow classmates going at their own pace.
Next, I strapped my feet into the rowing machine, where I could feel muscles working in my arms, back and core. The machine was different from anything I’d used before, but it didn’t feel difficult or cumbersome. For the last half of the class, I made my way to the treadmill, where you can choose to power walk, jog or run based on your level of comfort. They also have bike and strider machines for those who can’t use a treadmill. I chose to power walk as my base pace, a faster power walk for my push pace and a light jog for my all-out pace.
After a 60-minute class, I was pretty exhausted, but it was also one of the few times I’ve ever enjoyed exercising. I was sore, but I also felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that I had worked every part of my body. My favorite part about the Orangetheory experience was that I never felt insecure or like the people around me were showing off. Everyone was focused on their own workout, and when it was all finished, there were fist bumps and high fives all around. The feeling in the room was not only sweaty, but sincere.
“I love the atmosphere here because everyone gets to know each other and becomes like a big family,” says Salli. “There’s also some accountability with that and people really encourage each other to stay at it.” VT
For more information on Orangetheory Fitness, visit orangetheoryfitness.com.
By Mariah Kline