Insider’s Guide to Orangetheory and Responses to OTF News and Article Commenters

What are your expectations of an Orangetheory class?

Some of you have followed my blog for months or years, while others have stumbled upon it in a search for Orangetheory Fitness Seattle or other popular terms that Google directs here. I like to stay abreast of the news surrounding Orangetheory all around the country as people everywhere are getting a chance to be part of this rapidly growing fitness trend.

As an Orangetheory trainer, I have coached over fifteen hundred classes in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods.

Based on repeat attendance, this equals to more than 30,000 workout sessions delivered. Yes, being a group personal trainer is highly rewarding and it’s inspiring to think about my reach in the community. Whether you are reading this article because you are considering your first Orangetheory class or because you’re just interested in fitness, you may gain something so continue reading on.

Here's a quick snap at the end of one of my HIIT classes at the Orangetheory Fitness in Seattle, WA... the Capitol Hill studio location.

Here’s a quick snap at the end of one of my HIIT classes at the Orangetheory Fitness in Seattle, WA… the Capitol Hill studio location.

Below are three recent articles, information, and responses about Orangetheory from an insider perspective.

5 Things to Know Before your First Orangetheory Class

This Health.com article provides a great template for setting up healthy expectations of a first OTF class.

Coaches do want to personalize your workout

Coaches do want to personalize your workout

Here are the bullet points:

  • “It’s a perfect option for gym-goers who hate group exercise classes.”
    • While you follow the templates, there is way much individualization available and the trainers make an effort for you
    • Trainers do their best to remember your name, just keep in mind they might be coaching 100 different people throughout the day so reach out as needed.
    • If it’s your first class, you should get extra attention for sure.
  • “You need to get there (really) early.”
    • We ask that people arrive 30 minutes before class because it will make your workout experience so much smoother.
    • Arriving early will answer many of the questions that you would otherwise have during class.
    • Don’t forget, this is still HIIT so the pace of the class is quite upbeat no matter your fitness level.
    • Arriving early allows trainers to understand your needs and values, and to cater your first experience to that.
  • “You may develop a love-hate relationship with the heart-rate monitor.”
    • Everybody responds differently to the heart rate system as we all are built in different shapes, sizes with different heart beats as well. It may be very challenging to get even 10 minutes in the Orange zone, or you may be in the red zone half the class.
    • For the most part, the heart rates are a fantastic guide to being successful in the workout.
    • Just know that there may be some fluctuations that occur, in part due to the bouncing up and down and potentially aggressive nature of HIIT workouts.
  • “Don’t expect to do the same workout in your next class.”
    • Every workout is different, yet every workout provides you the opportunity to be better than your previous self.
    • You will get the benefits of HIIT every. single. time. by reaching the target heart rate zones.
    • Furthermore, you can continue busting through fat loss and fitness plateaus by focusing more intensity on a particular area (such as running faster at an incline on the treadmill).

Overall, I’d recommend coming with an open mind and communicating your reasons to the instructor. Why are you here, really? We want to know this information so we can individualize certain aspects of your Orangetheory workout and give you a great experience that leaves you feeling great and burning calories for hours upon hours following it.

NY Times: At the Gym, Abs and Stats

In this NY Times article, the author gives a brief overview of previous trends throughout the decades and then settles in on a discussion about the OTF experience and how the business fits into the overall context of group workouts.

Image of the heart rate system OTBeat

Image of the heart rate system OTBeat

They definitely don’t hesitate to talk about their own experience, feeling that for the author personally it was a competitive experience due to the stats on the board. Even so, I never base my workout on how many calories I burned versus somebody else because that is not the most ideal indicator of success.

What’s most interesting are the reader comments to the article.

Wabi-Sabi wrote: How different you city people are!
$32/class? Do you have so much money to waste? I run 7 miles with my dog
every day. She counts on me and I count on her.

Fortunately, Seattle prices are half of that or less. And secondly, I bet OTF runners are fitter, faster, and may actually enjoy the experience of group coaching motivational styles. If you consider a Personal Trainer in NYC is $80 or more, a Personal Trainer in Seattle is $60 or more, it’s certainly no waste of money for an investment in health and fitness.

D Jacob wrote: It should be clarified that there is no ranking on the orangetheory board so deciding who is in “last place” is determined only in your own mind. The numbers are specific to your weight, age, and effort, so comparing to other people’s numbers is not the point and not the right way to do it. You’re reading your own level of exertion, seeing how your recovery from exertion improves over time, and keeping your heart rate in specific zones.

A 250 pound, 45 year old guy is going to do that a lot differently than a 90 pound, 25 year old woman and how a vastly different calorie burn. I find this article misleading in the implication that it’s competitive. If you’re a competitive person, then you’ll be competitive here. If, like me, you are not, then you may like having data that really shows what you’re doing. There’s no terror unless you create it for yourself.

Good point and well said. Spoken like someone who truly experiences the benefits of heart rate led group interval training.

Andrew Hendricks wrote: Regardless of the comments below- I’ll keep my thoughts to myself on the inaccurate statements, narcissistic rants, and complete fitness bullying I am reading in the comments portion and say- what is wrong with each his own. I have been an OTF member for over 8 months- been to more than 20 studios but regular at Chelsea and Massapequa, and I mean religiously 5 times a week. All it’s done for me- was change my life- down 70 pounds, off all meds, in better shape than I’ve been in since my 20’s, complete confidence in life and have made the best friends anyone can have- Perhaps I should go back to smoking, over eating and sitting on the couch..

Wow, beautiful. This is the reason I love what I do. No matter the stress of an irregular schedule or the challenges of being a full time coach… stuff like this is what makes it all worth it. I guarantee every studio in the entire country has stories like this. Changing lives not only changes others, it changes us to. So thank you to all of the Andrew Hendrick’s of the fitness world!!

ringO wrote: They’re going to spend their $$$ on something.
Might as well be fitness.
I’m all for it.
It is always better to buy experiences than material goods.

And I’ll just leave it at that. I know people in Seattle are doing alright financially and even people who are on a modest income still realize that they are going to get way more benefit out of Orangetheory classes than the latest designer clothing. Btw, your ass will look way better in those designer jeans anyway.

And finally, one more article response and this article definitely does not hold back on the criticism…

This Gym Chain NEEDS to Address This Important Issue

Miss Kelsey Miller over at Refinery29.com unfortunately did not have the best experience on her first class. As an online content writer, was her intent to scrutinize the experience from the beginning or was she actually looking for a workout routine for herself?

Refinery29 Author

Refinery29 Author

Full disclosure: I went into Orangetheory’s Brentwood location with my usual skepticism of any flashy new workout trend.

There’s our answer.

At the end of my first and only session at Orangetheory Fitness, I stood sweating amid a group of 20-odd students while our trainer, Lal, pointed at my name on the screen.

“You only had seven minutes in the Orange Zone.” He had that I’m-not-mad-I’m-disappointed kind of tone. “You need to push yourself — get uncomfortable.”

As coaches, we’re usually aiming to encourage people by saying, “For those of you who didn’t hit it, one day, you’ll reach 12 minute in the Orange Zone.” That being said, she makes it sound like he called her out in front of the entire group, but I’m inclined to believe he was off the microphone chatting with her one-on-one.

Filling out the pre-workout paperwork, I noted a lingering knee problem of mine that often acts up during certain exercises. After a brief warm-up, my group was sent to the weight-training floor for a timed interval of bench step movements and squats. Lal shouted instructions and then pointed to a screen with written steps as well as an animated little person demo-ing the moves. That’s when I first felt my knee begin to twang and paused to consider a modification. By now, Lal was on the other side of the studio, shouting instructions to the treadmill group, so I turned to the virtual trainer, who told me in no uncertain terms to just keep going.

Gosh, I can completely understand this scenario. I always ask a new person about injuries and do not rely on the client intake form — I want to hear it from your mouth. Admittedly, something I could do better is ask all my current members if they have any injuries acting up lately, since sometimes we’re at 100% and other times not so much. So it’s clear that our hero, Lal, missed a step by not going back to Kelsey after delivering the treadmill instructions and asking for a status update on her knee.

Then again, personal responsibility also plays a role. In group workouts, your trainer needs to be there for you, and you also need to be there for yourself. I always recommend not working through the pain unless you are prescribed by a rehabilitation specialist (or you simply know your body better than anybody else). So, she could have made eye contact with Lal and waved him down and I’m sure he would be willing to come right on over to deliver the options. Right, Lal?

Thankfully, my knee pain eased up when I got to the rowing and treadmill portion of the class, but even though I pushed myself hard enough to thoroughly drench my T-shirt, I wasn’t as concerned with hitting the anaerobic Orange Zone as I was with getting through the workout without hurting myself. So, when Lal pointed at the screen, gently scolding me for staying mostly in the aerobic Green Zone, I wasn’t all that bothered.

“Yeah, I’m fine with that.”

Definitely something missing in the communication channel between these two individuals. Now I know that some individuals simply need more attention to have a great experience, while others need only a few moments of encouragement to perform at their best.

If I was the trainer in this situation, I would again ask Kelsey about the status of her knee. Then, seeing that she is not reaching the Orange zone during a push pace, I would use the simple RPE scale (rate of perceived exertion) by asking Kelsey how she feels about her intensity on a scale of 1-10. Where 1 is completely resting and 10 is the most intense all out effort of her life. If she is somewhere around 7-9 perceived intensity and still in the green zone, then I would be fine with that… encouraging her to continue working and that it’s totally fine especially on her first workout.

Over time you learn to read people. As a coach, I recall a time when I received negative feedback for not pushing a person hard enough, she said something like, “I felt there were opportunities my trainer could have pushed me harder.” And when I look back at that specific moment, I realize that yet again it was a simple lapse in the communication channel between myself and this person.

But at Orangetheory, there’s little talk of the long-term. Consistency takes a backseat to instantaneous results.

Excuse my language but what in the HECK does that mean? The REALITY of the situation — and again this is coming from a coach who has been immersed in OTF for years — If you CONSISTENTLY show up to an Orangetheory workout 3-4 times per week, I guarantee you will get results. Guaranteed. Seriously. That’s consistency and if something hurts your knees, I also guarantee there are ways around it.

Truth be told, the people who get the fastest results are also the ones who allow themselves to be coached. As an employee of OTF, I know that my work will be superior by allowing myself to be coached by the leadership around me (and perhaps even my peers). Likewise, getting results at OTF is purely about attitude.

The only reason that OTF is so popular is because it works. It works to get you healthy, it works to get you fit, it works to burn the fat, and it works for those who want to be part of a community. Hey, Seattle transplants, I’m talking to you. Come make some friends.

I’m alarmed that, of all fitness trends, this one appears to be growing so fast. But I’ll admit that Orangetheory is popular for a reason: Many clients gush with real sincerity about how it has changed their lives. In fitness, I’ve learned that the only thing that matters is finding something that works for you, and if somebody raises an eyebrow, who cares? But I’ve also learned there’s nothing wrong with being the one who raises an eyebrow.

I do think she makes some interesting points about the “Biggest Loser Mentality” at OTF, but I’d say that only accounts for a fraction of the reasons people actually go. Consider that out of over a thousand members at Seattle’s Capitol Hill location, only about sixty of them are participating in the 6 week weight loss challenge where the grand prize is $2,500 and a free year membership. Yes, we have helped people lose 60+ pounds over the course of several months. In reality though, the average person is just looking for a workout that makes them feel great and allows them to continually improve their fitness levels.

And our author, Kelsey, finally concedes that if it works for you, then that’s what matters.

Also, Kelsey, if you are ever in Seattle, give me a chance. 9 times out of 10, I’ll change your perception of Orangetheory and maybe we’ll really be able to connect on a coaching level. By the way, just as you criticize OTF, I hope you can appreciate the validity of my points as well.

It’s been a journey for me as a coach, learning how to look deep inside myself and be able to authentically care about all different types of people who in most cases are very much unlike myself. I’ve also had struggles with people who tried my class for the first time and it frustrates me, I literally lose sleep when I realize that I gave somebody a less than ideal experience. It forces me to come back stronger the next day. It forces me to engage in an encouraging, positive and open minded communication channel with individuals and groups on a daily basis.

For those of you who take my class for the first time in Seattle, know that my intention is to give you a great experience and that your participation and attention is a requirement for this to happen. I’ll meet you where you’re at with your fitness, and you meet me with your needs — we’ll go places you never dreamed of.

Thank you all and stay tuned for future content.

My goal for this year is to be more consistent myself with blogging. I realize that I have soooo many followers in Seattle that scheduling one-on-one time with each of you is nearly impossible. However, know that if you want to schedule that time, I can make myself available.

And if it’s just my knowledge that you need, then keep coming back and please leave a comment if this interests you.

 

 

 

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Benefits of Orangetheory Seattle area

What are the things that OTF team enjoys?

Fitness. Well fitness is related to food and you’ve got to put some of that on the plate some how! The key is that fitness is something that a lot of people have in common.

Rach Row

Rach Row

Most of us recognize the need for some physical intensity — the key is finding the right intensity. I’ve learned that the majority of people who go to OTF have jobs/careers that have varying levels of sedentary moments. Some people sit more than others. We need to get up and move.

Fitness is about progression

Just like we must strengthen our muscles in exercise, we also must become more seasoned in our line of expertise. We are growing a movement in Seattle with a fitness first mindset and we want as many people as possible to be part of it.

Reaching a plateau

Eventually you may reach a plateau, That is you may reach a point where you will not become any stronger or larger if that is your goal.  In which case you can still find ways for progression on skills and techniques. There is still opportunity for progression by learning and strengthening skills and other areas of fitness.

Benefits of OTF from the inside

Well here is the list.

1. The workouts

We love taking the workouts because the HIIT really seems to eliminate the fat!!!

Noticeably leaner in just a couple workouts if you’re willing to push it hard. High speeds and aggressive intervals is a matter of will and determination. Full body determination and activation of muscles throughout the spectrum, just focus on the technique with breathing an emphasis.

Full body strength and strong legs = good running potential. That’s why when you are able to go heavier in the weight room it has a direct carry over to your treadmill power capabilities.

Being able to take OTF workouts at studios all over is a fantastic benefit.

2. The People

Okay I probably should have listed this first.

Community, community, community. That’s another example of how fitness helps outside the workouts. We need community — well I’m speaking for some — even for those who enjoy occasional solitude. There are some figures and many wonderful people at OTF.

Each moment is an opportunity. To have a really good class you really have to stay in the moment. I dreamed I had the emotional and social abilities to make the thousands of people taking workouts be part of the community. Well many do appreciate and that I do as well.

The brand itself is growing so fast and all around the country, even world. Some people make decisions of where to move based on the location of an Orangetheory Fitness even!! So that connects people all over, which is pure opportunity whether for knowing someone or just having confidence-boosting interactions.

I’ve been a part of this whole Seattle journey for OTF.

3. Making history

I definitely feel that Orangetheory is changing the fitness industry. There is such a powerful combination of instant biofeedback and full body exercise prescription that people tend to get results quickly. It CAN be fun and energizing to the rest of your life.

People are witnessing these trends and the fitness industry will continue to evolve. Fitness is trending towards technology in the workouts along with full-body exercises to achieve certain goals. There’s something powerful about having peers though and I’m talking about people who are having the experience of the workout with you.

We area reaching a new understanding of how to run efficient fat burning programs that benefits people of many different shapes and sizes, strengths and limitations. There are amazingly popular coaches and also good coaches. The workouts are effective as long as you have a motivating factor, which may be intrinsic or extrinsic or even a combination. Either way, this stuff really works.

Hope you enjoyed this perspective from me

Thanks for reading and stay tuned

 

How to get Stronger at Orangetheory Fitness: 3 insider tips

3

Is your goal to get stronger at Orangetheory Fitness?

Even if it’s not, you might still learn something about strength training. My experiences coaching at OTF have given me great opportunities to promote strength training among general Seattle population. To gain strength, we must progressively adapt against stimulus.

A unique "Endurance" workout

A unique “Endurance” workout still an opportunity for strength

Over a year of coaching and taking classes at Orangetheory have allowed me to bring you these tips:

1. Go HEAVY

People think that because the 25’s are the heaviest on the individual rack that they are heavy. In a few cases, the 25’s could be considered heavy such as a lateral raises. However, for full body exercises such as goblet or sumo squats, people neglect the proper dumbbells for training. This makes no sense because when you are performing an exercise that utilizes leverage from nearly the entire body (such as a squat), then you should be striving for more. Always. Always striving for more.

Nearly all healthy men women would be able to barbell squat the weight of their body on their backs with proper training. Intermediate strength athletes can squat nearly double their weight. Elite strength athletes can squat 3x or more of their own bodyweight. Have some perspective.

PRO TIP: If the exercise is DB Sumo Squats for 8 reps and your previous best was 40lbs, then you should begin the set with a 50 lb dumbbell and get as many reps as possible. Rest if needed, then continue getting reps on the exercise till you achieve the total amount.

Sumo Squat

Sumo Squat

–> Do the same thing in a future workout and I’ll bet you get more than four reps at the beginning, thus gaining strength.

The above described technique would be called, “rest-pause,” and it is yet another pathway to gains.

Begin the first set with the greatest intensity. 

2. Go to failure… sometimes.

What is going to failure? Going to failure means that you do as many reps as you can and then trying for another rep and failing on the last rep (or even ending squeezing some partial reps out at the end). I want to outline some benefits and some reservations about going to failure.

If the exercise is safe for you, then decide to actually take it to the limit. Maybe the workout calls for 8 reps, but you choose a weight that you could squeeze 12 out of… then you need to hit all 12 or go heavier asap.

I’ve said it many times also: you can get stronger without going heavier. Going heavier is just the most popular way.

Either way, you’ve GOT to push it!!! Going to failure is a highly successful training technique reserved for those with perseverance, pain tolerance, and people who value recovery from intense stimulus.

Get in the habit of trying to lift heavier things

Get in the habit of trying to lift heavier things

Pros of going to Failure: You will break down the muscle tissue allowing your body to recover and get stronger. Motor neurons and neural pathways are enhanced, metabolism is increased (both during recovery and resting due to increased muscle tone), and going to failure may release beneficial body re-composition hormones.

Cons of going to Failure: Will probably be really sore (but some people love this). Main concern is that if you do it frequently, you could burn out the central nervous system and lead to diminishing returns over time. Aka over-training.

If you want to go to failure, communicate that to your coach. I would be right there with you making sure you were safe and encouraging you.

3. Live by the Treadmill Inclines (Sprints are best)

Running incline is the best option for gaining strength at Orangetheory. I swear by it, I almost always run at a higher incline than 1 per cent.

People who use 1% incline and running 7.5 mph for pushes and never faster will deceive themselves into thinking that’s enough. While the heart rate may elevate, the rest of the body will adapt to the stimulus and less likely the fat is to burn off. You need to go faster OR use higher inclines.

I know that some coaches at OTF will encourage you to commit to being a walker, runner, or jogger but for people who want to gain strength that’s not the best idea.

We often talk about workouts with regard to Power, Strength, and Endurance — this is based on the energy systems of the body.

Power: 1-20 seconds

Strength: 1-60 seconds (power/strength overlap)

Endurance: 60 seconds or more, or when using light weights

Sample treadmill workout

If the coach calls for… you could choose to…

3 minute push: Powerwalking 12% incline, 4.5 mph.

1 minute base: Powerwalking 8% incline, 3.5+ mph

1 minute push: 4% incline sprint

1 minute base: Powerwalking 4% incline, 3.0+ mph

30 second all-out: 7% incline sprint

In any future workout, you could hit the same sprint speed, just at 1% higher than last time. You can even make progressions with .5% incline or even .1 mph would count as a progression. There are TOO MANY VARIATIONS that there is NO REASON to always perform sprints at the same parameters everytime. You will plateau.

Sprints and spinach

Sprints and spinach

Running 2% at 13mph is different than running 1% at 13mph. Not a lot different, but different enough to have inherent value with regard to training stimulus and getting stronger. If you’ve run 12 mph before, then why not try 11.7 mph at a 2% higher incline than last time?

In other words, experiment with as many combinations of inclines and sprint speeds as possible! Then go back to a previous best and challenge it for better.

Pro Tip: Most effective treadmill parameters for strength feature incline greater than 1%!

Be a part of this

I hope these tips help. Be a part of this. Post, comment, share, email me. I want to build this around you.

We didn’t even talk about nutrition in this post, while that continues to play an ever important role in gaining strength, tone, everything fitness you want.