Have you heard of Orange Theory? It is the new fitness rage.
My sister-in-law and niece are big advocates.
The family met in Philadelphia for the start of the 4th of July weekend to celebrate my nephew’s birthday. As the trip approached, my niece Sam texted me that she signed us up for the Saturday morning Orange Theory class.
I run and practice yoga regularly. I was not worried at all.
We were staying near my nephew’s house on the Penn campus four miles from the Orange Theory gym. I convinced Sam to walk to and from the class on Saturday morning.
That was Mistake Number One.
We arrived and my legs were tired. I was feeling the beer that I had consumed the night before with my brother and nephew (Mistake Number Two).
The staff handed me a heart monitor to wear, and warned me to make it tight. Mistake Number Three was cinching it so that it restricted my breathing.
I was nervous. Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but in my experience heart rates are monitored to keep you from dying.
The room had rows of treadmills, rowing machines and floor equipment.
The coach explained that we would be doing eleven minutes on the treadmill, eleven minutes on rowing/floor, eleven minutes back on the treadmill, and then the final eleven on the rowing/floor.
Sam and I picked our treadmills and started. It immediately felt like I was climbing a mountain. I think the whole building may have been tilted.
And then the coach told us to increase the incline.
I started to not like him.
He instructed us to jog for a minute, and then increase it to a run pace for three minutes.
During the run, I was struggling.
I can do anything for three minutes, so I focused on the time.
Three minutes approached and I thought that maybe I won’t throw up or die. I desperately tried not to think of the heart monitor becoming embedded in my ribs.
Three minutes and nothing from the coach. He was focused on the floor group.
At three and a half minutes I started thinking not nice things about the coach.
Four minutes and I got annoyed at the floor group.
torture time, your heart rate is shown on a large tv screen, along with everyone else in the class. You are encouraged to monitor it, and the goal is to spend between 12 and 20 minutes with your heart rate in the “orange zone,” the second most intense of the five designated heart rate zones ranging from gray to red. This creates an effect called the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), also called afterburn.
This makes sense conceptually. Practically, it meant that I had to LOOK AT the tv screen. I was doing all I could to keep the inclined treadmill (and building) from jettisoning me off. At the very least, the motion would have made me dizzy. At the worst, I would have flattened the coach who was right behind me.
That thought became more and more appealing to me.
At five minutes, the coach came back to us and said “doing great, only one more minute!”
I then knew I was not alone.
The words that came from my sweet niece and the lady on the other side of me were impressive.
I survived the entire class with Sam by my side.
The coach escaped injury.
The heart rate monitor did not have to be surgically removed, although I did walk away wearing it and would probably still have it on now if not for Sam.
After class, I was emailed my performance statistics. This is what your results should look like:
And this is what mine were:
Given that I spent so much time in the “red”, the heart rate monitor was probably a good idea.