Orangetheory Fitness: Encouraging Runners to Keep Burning
Some gyms are plastered with pictures of buff fitness models in an attempt at motivation that often instead serves as a dejecting reminder of how we don’t measure up. But at the Orangetheory Fitness Edina studio, signs like “Work hard and be proud,” “Good things come to those who sweat,” and “Be the best version of you” promote the positive tone of the group fitness club.
It’s one of the many differences between Orangetheory Fitness and any other gym. With scientifically-backed theories on exercise, a motivating community and important cross-training and strength-building, Orangetheory Fitness is a concept worth exploring for any runner.
The Orangetheory Workout
As its name suggests, Orangetheory was built on a theory: that high-intensity exercise at or above the anaerobic threshold will reap participants an additional caloric burn after the workout ends. It’s this afterburn, known in scientific research as EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, that Orangetheory seeks to harvest the benefit of. The goal of each workout is to push you to your “orange zone,” or 84% of your max heart rate. In a typical hourlong class, ideally, a combined 12 to 20 minutes will be spent in this zone, with high-intensity intervals followed by periods of recovery.
Every Orangetheory workout is focused on strength, power or endurance, and some workouts incorporate all three. Each studio is set up with treadmills for interval running, an open floor with weight-training equipment and row machines, and all instructor-led workouts rotate between all three stations. Throughout the class, each participant can check the giant TV screens for their current heart rate and easily tell by the color what zone they’re currently in.
The Orangetheory Community
With its scientific jargon, it may seem that Orangetheory is an intimidating place, but ask any member, and you’ll find it’s just the opposite. The Orangetheory team welcomes newbies warmly, helping to get you set up with a heart rate monitor and calculating your “orange zone” heart rate before your first class. There’s no dread in the air before a workout starts, and nobody seems to have dragged themselves into the studio. Instead, the vibe is positive, boosted by upbeat instructors, lively music and the camaraderie of classmates lifting you up.
According to Mike Calawarts, the general manager and head coach of the Edina and Uptown clubs, each class includes a spectrum of members, “from 20-somethings who are really interested in fitness to moms who are 8-months pregnant to dads whose last kid has just left for college and finally have time to look after themselves again.”
Coupled with instructors who display proper technique and help correct any form mistakes in the weight area, the environment ensures that no matter where you’re starting from, there’s a place for you at one of Orangetheory’s eleven Minnesota locations.
The Benefits for Runners
Orangetheory alone won’t prepare you for a marathon, but adding Orangetheory workouts to your running schedule offers numerous benefits: building full-body strength through rowing and weight lifting, serving as an additional cross-training session to supplement a training plan, and providing the motivation to hit fast running intervals on the treadmill that are often harder to reach when training alone. For runners who struggle to schedule cross-training or strength-building to their training plans, Orangetheory can provide the structure to take racing to the next level.
While some athletes train exclusively at Orangetheory, the high-intensity style often means that members balance their schedules with lower intensity exercise as well. Mike estimated that about 70% of Orangetheory members have a separate fitness membership in addition to Orangetheory–sometimes a more traditional gym for additional cardio, weight-training or cross training, but often to a yoga studio or other fitness program. Approximately 50% of Orangetheory members attend workouts twice a week to supplement their other favorite workouts, which allows the program to fit in nicely with a more traditional running schedule.
The Partnership: Orangetheory Fitness and Brewery Running Series
This summer, the Edina and Uptown clubs joined forces to train for a Brewery Running Series 5k with a special “Fit 4 the 4th” 40-day, 40-mile, and 40,000-meter rowing program. More than 200 members completed the training program, and about 80 ran in the Inbound BrewCo 5K on July 1. For some, it was their first 5k, and for others, it was their first time back to running in years. Regardless of their running background, the participants helped prove that the partnership between Orangetheory Fitness and the Minnesota Brewery Running Series is focused on a similar goal: the desire to “keep burning” with a passion for fitness and community.