In the zone

Orange Theory Fitness. Know it? Ever hear of it? I hadn’t until about a month or so ago, when Dee started attending workout sessions at the OTF studio newly opened in Williamsburg. She loved the 55-minute, high-intensity interval group (20ish people) workouts overseen by a highly caffeinated coach barking out marching orders over an ear-splitting hype soundtrack. Man, just writing that sentence was a high-intensity workout.

Anyway, I just entered my rest-recovery-maintain fitness phase of my budding, old-guy triathlon career. Orange Theory sounded like something that could potentially work into the mix. Turns out my theory was correct. It is in my mix, and not going away soon.

The philosophy behind Orange Theory is all about heart, specifically your heart rate. Exercisers wear a heart monitor around their chest or upper arm that reads out on a screen above the treadmills and rowing machines that are essential to an OTF workout. (Half the workout also involves dumbbells, body weight lifts or TRX bands.) Essentially, everyone has a “maximum heart rate” based on age and gender. The coaches aim to harangue, um, urge and support, you into working the various exercises at a pace that will keep your heart rate in the green (71-83 percent of your max rate), orange (84-91 percent) or red (92-100 percent, lung-busting, obscenity-screaming) zones up on the screen.

Much has been written the last few years about how the best workouts for cardio, strength and weight loss are high-intensity interval workouts. I believe it. And while I have tried to do those combo workouts on my own, along the lines of P90x and such, for years, having a coach pushing you through the pain raises the bar much higher than you, meaning I, can maintain it on my own.

At the end, your calories burned, average heart rate for the workout and number of minutes you spent in the orange and red zones, called splat points for a reason I’m not sure of, appear on the screen, so you can chart all that based on whether it was designed to be a  “power” workout, “endurance” or what have you.

As in everything, you get out what you put in. I go twice a week with Dee (she goes more) — usually pre-dawn, which feels nuts most mornings – and leave a puddle of perspiration. It is satisfied sweat, though. We know challenges are being met, fitness increases are being seen, and great mojo for the day – and the spring tri season — is being cultivated. In more than just theory.