Orangetheory Fitness, 1285 E. First Ave. Suite C, Broomfield, 303-926-2550, orangetheoryfitness.com
Instructor: Monica Edwards, of Broomfield, a former special agent for the government. Five years ago, Edwards decided to improve her health and lost 40 pounds. She quit her law-enforcement job and became a personal trainer and educator. Her specialties are functional fitness, weight loss and injury recovery.
Edwards is a certified personal trainer and certified in Orangetheory Fitness. She also offers life coaching, health coaching, biofeedback scans, natural health consulting, corporate wellness programs and she runs educational weight-loss clinics.
Orangetheory opened in Broomfield in May. There are currently seven Orangetheory studios throughout Colorado, with 17 eventually planned, including one in Boulder.
What is the workout? Orangetheory Fitness is a science-based interval workout set up in a small-group personal training atmosphere.
Orangetheory brings participants through all five heart-rate zones in very structured, strategic workouts, backed by the science of "post-exercise oxygen consumption," or EPOC. All Orangetheory participants wear heart rate monitors, and the results are projected in live time on screens throughout the facility, color-coded so you know which heart-rate zone you are in.
The classes go through three different phases: treadmill interval training, indoor rowing on machines and fast-paced resistance training, relying highly on body-weight exercises.
The goal of the class is specific: Be in the green zone (71-83 percent of your max heart rate) for 20 to 30 minutes, and be in the orange zone (71-83 percent of your max heart rate) for 12 to 20 minutes. (If you do what the instructor says, you will accomplish this without thinking.) This Orange Zone is what stimulates the EPOC effect, where you keep burning extra calories long after you leave the studio.
Orangetheory claims participants can burn up to 1,000 calories per session and burn extra calories for up to 36 hours after exercising.
According to my results after class, which were emailed to me in a useful chart with analysis, I only burned 360 calories during class, but I did stay in my orange zone for 33 percent of the time (about 17 minutes), which is right on target.
What's different: Edwards has a metaphor that explains Orangetheory well: Many other fitness programs are like a slingshot to try to hit your fitness goals, but Orangetheory is like a sharp-shooter. It is highly personalized and tells you exactly what you need to do -- down to the miles-per-hour and incline on your treadmill.
Translating your heart-rate numbers to colors on the screen is a unique and easy way to understand how hard you are exerting and keep your body in the desired zones. It's also interesting to see how every participant's ideal heart rate per zone is different.
At the end of class, the screens show your results on a simple chart, which Edwards goes over with you.
Throughout the class, she also inserted fitness trivia and quizzed the class. What percentage of the work on the rowing machine is your leg muscles? What food should you eat within 30 minutes of leaving class? The regular participants knew the answers to her questions, proof that they are not just exercising, but educating themselves, too.
What does it cost: Try your first week free. After that, you can sign up for different plans, starting at $59 per month for four sessions (one per week). Unlimited classes cost $159 per month.
When: There are many classes throughout the week, so check the schedule. Classes last one hour, with 30 minutes of cardio, 30 minutes of strength.
Come 30 minutes before your first class so the instructor can walk you through everything and learn about your body. All of the questions and pre-workout preparation helped me feel ready when class started.
Level: All levels, whether you are a power walker to elite athlete. (Both were in my class.)
Can't run on a treadmill? Orangetheory has several bikes for your cardio. Because classes are kept relatively small (my class had eight), the instructor offers modifications, depending on your fitness ability and injuries.
As for my personal level of exertion, I felt like I pushed myself an seven to eight on a 10-point intensity scale, which is a challenging yet sustainable level. I thought the cardio was the most challenging, as we moved through quick intervals at our "base pace" through our "push pace" and then quick bursts of "all out."
What to prepare: Wear exercise clothes, good shoes, bring a water bottle. I borrowed a heart-rate monitor and strap for my first class, but eventually, you will need to buy a strap.
Muscles worked: Full body and cardio. The strength exercises used multiple muscles at once and were functional, based on things you need to do in your daily life.
Orangetheory claims you will lose an estimated three to five pounds per week if you attend three to five sessions per week, combined with nutritional planning. And Orangetheory says after two weeks of two to four classes per week, athletes can expert to see an increase in power, speed and strength.
What I loved: The structure. I cannot express how much I loved knowing specifically what to do and exactly how my body responded to the class. Best of all, this information was presented in such an easy way.
I especially enjoyed the cardio. No one has ever heard me say this before, but I enjoyed the treadmill -- because I had something to think about. This was the most fun I've ever had running, and I actually want to do it again. Yes, on a treadmill. My least favorite activity on Earth.
Also, unlike most instructors I work with, Edwards did not know I was going to be reviewing her class, so I feel like I got an honest experience of Orangetheory. And it rocked. The music was fun, the energy was high, the participants were supportive and I felt great about myself when I left.
What I didn't like: That the Boulder studio isn't yet open. Before class, I did feel a little intimidated by the regulars, all decked out in their Orangetheory gear and talking about things I didn't understand. But after class, I can admit I see why they're so fanatic.
How I felt after the class: Exactly how I like to feel after a good workout. I felt appropriately sore the next day -- like I worked hard but safely. I also noticed increased energy. And I want to get my own heart-rate monitor.
I wonder if Orangetheory will become the new CrossFit-like trend.
-- Reported by Aimee Heckel.