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Do you ever look like a tomato after you work out?   Maybe this should be called the Red Theory.

I used to look like a tomato after a soccer game or after I finished my floor routine three times during gymnastics training.  I used to look like a tomato when my heart rate got up for a significant amount of time.   I tend to feel the most happy and proud of myself when I look like a tomato after a good SWEAT because I know my body got something out of it.

This is what Orangetheory is all about (not the tomato, but the PUSH).  They want you to be between 84% and 91% heart rate as much as possible during the hour class.  They want you PUSHing yourself.  When you train in that PUSH mode, you get results. When you workout there, you have a heart rate monitor around your wrist and your heart rate and performance are up on the TV for you (and everyone else) to see.  When you are hanging out too much in the blue or green zones (the less than 84% heart rate zones), you might be inclined to push a little more.

Let’s be real here for a moment though.  If you are already turned off because your performance is up on the TV, I’d like to say a few words.  In every day life, most of us are worried about ourselves.  How am I coming across?  What did they think of me?  Do they think I look fat in these pants?  Me, me, me.  We are all so worried about what people think of “ME”.  Well, if we study that notion – if everyone is so worried about what people think of themselves, then no one is really worried about YOU.  Now that we’ve cleared that up, you are free to try this workout.

To maximize your workout, you want to spend time in the Orange (84% to 91% heart rate) or Red zones (92% to 100% heart rate). A moderate workout would mean your heart rate is mostly in the Green zone (71% to 83%). A light workout would be the Blue zone (61% to 70%) and a very light workout in the Gray zone (50%-60%).

Before trying Orangetheory or any new fitness program, please check with your doctor to ensure it will be safe.

Here is a recap of my Orange Theory experience.

Workout 1:

Wow.  I AM SWEATING.  I don’t really understand this heart rate thing.  Was it working?  Was it measuring correctly?  What just happened?  Hmmm… I’ve been working out a long time and I don’t remember ever feeling THAT at the end of any session and yes, my face looks as red as a tomato.

Workout 2:

OK. Not bad.  Once my heart rate monitor was connected properly (tip: make sure you see your name on the screen before class starts and that it’s reading correctly, otherwise you will not get a proper review of your performance). Why am I not in the Orange enough?   I feel like I’m working hard.  The weights provide a break from those ugly treadmills and rowers.  I like the weight training part.  Yes, let’s do more of that.  Oh no, the rest of the class is cardio?  Push pace.  Hmmm… maybe I’ll be a “power walker” today instead.  I mean, I’m just learning this whole Orangetheory thing.  They would understand right?  Maybe I’ll bounce back and forth from jogger to power walker when my heart feels like it’s going to explode.  Oh, is that the idea?  Ah, ok, so we want our hearts to explode? (please note the sarcasm).  I’m really disliking the instructor right now.   Sorry Jannah for my “not-so-nice” thoughts. 😉

Workout 3: 

I thought eating a breakfast burrito (from a diner) at 11am would give me enough time to digest and be ready to workout at Orangetheory at 1:30pm.  Nope.  Nothing graphic here folks.  I just couldn’t PUSH as hard as I would have liked.  It felt like some of the burrito was still in my throat.  Nutrition is very important around your workouts.  It will make or break them.  Keep your pre-workout meals light.  Here are a few ideas depending on when your exercise is coming up.

If your workout will take place in under a half hour: Pop two dates dipped in peanut or almond butter (if allergic, skip the nut butter).

If your workout is in an hour: Have an apple or banana for the natural sugar which quickly turns into energy for your workout.

If your workout is in 1.5 hours: A smoothie is a good choice.  A cup of almond, cashew or cow’s milk, a banana, a heaping tablespoon of a nut butter, a couple dates, a tablespoon of cocoa and a tiny bit of maple syrup for more sweetness (optional).  This is also a good post workout option and you can add protein powder for a bigger protein kick.

These light meals may work for the average person, but you know your body the best.  Depending on the stage of life you’re in, how you digest food and what your individual body needs, you may need to increase or decrease the amounts listed.

Ensure you have an excellent post workout meal which includes protein and carbs to increase the benefits of your workout.  Here are some great examples of excellent post-workout meals.

Workout 4:

I finally get it.  I finally understand what is happening and what they want us to do.  I would say if you are going to give Orangetheory a try, do it at least four times.  You will have an “aha” moment.  I felt more empowered by this class.  I knew what Jocelin was talking about when we were on the treadmills.  Block 1, 2 and 3.  Back and forth. Treadmills to rowers.  Ooh, I like that better than the straight treadmills.   Too much green Michelle.  Get your ass into the orange.  I know you don’t like that uncomfortable “my heart is working too hard” feeling, but the tomato. You want the tomato. Ok, everyone else is in the orange, why can’t you do it?  Increase the speed Michelle. Yes…. push the button. No. I don’t want to.  PUSH the button or you won’t get any splat points (you earn splat points when you spend time in the orange or red zones).  Don’t you want to show these people how fit you are. No I don’t care about that.  Fair enough, just get your heart rate up and move on with your life.  Ok fine.  PUSH PUSH PUSH.  SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT.  Tomato. Oh hi tomato.  I love you.

Workout 5: 

I don’t remember this class, except I remember I looked like a Tomato. Thank you.

Workout 6:

Benjamin, your class was really good.  It had a different angle.  At first I liked that we did the 24 minutes of cardio first.  The classes prior to this had been weight training circuits first, cardio last.  I was excited to get the cardio out of the way because I usually find weight training easier, BUT, then I had to actually do the weight training after the cardio.  My legs. They’re shaking.  How can I do these lunges with shaking legs?  Wow. Good workout. I made it.  I deserve food now.  Yes. I do.   My arm hurts as I try and pat my own self on the back.

Workout 7: 

I really like it here.  I wish I lived down the street so I could come at least three times a week.  Thank you Jacqueline for another “Cardio first, weights last” situation.   Tomato – CHECK.


This franchise is a franchise for a reason.  It really offers something amazing and you can pick your level of intensity.  Even if you are just starting out, you can take it easy and go at your own pace.   The trainers are coaching you throughout the entire process.  If you are a competitive person, feel free to look at the TV and compare your heart rate to someone else’s.  It won’t be a super fair comparison because your body is most likely not shaped like theirs.  If it gets you moving faster and harder, then you are benefitting.  If you’re like me and more competitive with yourself than others, it’s time to compete with yourself and get in the friggin’ ORANGE.

Every day is a different workout.  If you have a friend in California who trains at Orangetheory, you can compare notes because they will have done the same class on the same day.  The Orangetheory app makes it easy to book your next class, rate and review your classes and watch your progression.

Pricing involves a monthly fee without a contract.  Orange Basic includes 4 classes a month, Orange Elite includes 8 classes a month and Orange Premier is unlimited classes.  Costs vary depending on location.  They also offer pre-paid packages of 10, 20 or 30 sessions which do have an expiry date.  When you commit to some sort of package with Orange Theory, you must purchase a heart rate monitor.  These cost about $100.

One major tip for this workout is to make sure you drink a lot of water before and after.  I found if I didn’t have enough water throughout the day of a session, I would end up with a headache.  Hydration is key.

Many people will sign up to Orangetheory if they have something big in their lives coming up (i.e. a wedding, a vacation, a reunion, etc).   If you are looking to actually SWEAT in your workouts, this is a great place to take on.   When you SWEAT like you mean it regularly – and you eat properly of course, you will see results.

I must add that the lighting of the Orangetheory fitness studios is very good.  It’s dark and sexy and really reminds me of my clubbing days.  I feel like I would look delicious naked in there.  Perhaps not while in the PUSH mode on the treadmill, rower or while I’m doing double crunches on the floor with my feet up, but it definitely has an intimate feel and makes your assets stand out.  You know what they say about good lighting?  Ya, me neither, but I know good lighting makes me feel good.    Okay, not important, but it adds to the atmosphere during your workout.  It’s dark enough that you may end up whispering compliments to yourself such as “Michelle, looking good girl.  Keep it up you hot mama.  Your hard work is paying off.  Feel. The. Burn.”

Also, the treadmills have individual fans so once you’ve got a good SWEAT going, turn it on, feel the “wind” in your hair and immediately feel like you “own this fitness shit”.

I feel like Orangetheory takes care of the thinking for you.  You just have to show up and your body will have to participate in some manner.  Once your mind gets wrapped around the theory and how it works, you can work toward convincing yourself why increasing the speed or power in your workouts will actually benefit you in the long run.  So show up, at least 4 times, and see if you get addicted to the SWEAT.

Michelle GB

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