I take new exercise trends with a grain of salt: I love the variety, but I don’t get behind the idea that each new fitness revelation has finally “got it all figured out.” (See also: diet trends.) But more options is always good: Zumba, spin, crossfit, Pure Barre, TRX, Pilates, sports, sports, sports.
Add to them the latest ripple in Sarasota’s exercise pond: Orangetheory Fitness, set to open near University Parkway and Honore Avenue. Specifically, the ripple is Orangetheory’s use of heart rate monitors to target various levels of exertion. The heart rates are projected on a big screen so that you and the trainer can monitor your levels and make sure you're getting the right amount of exertion and recovery. The hour-long, group-trained classes are split between interval treadmill work and weight training, including rowing machines.
I spoke with Sheri Carr, who’s in charge of the new location. She explained that the workouts are designed so that your heart rate spends the right amount of time in each of three color-coded “zones” (green, orange, red) in order to, basically, boost your metabolism and continue burning calories. After warming up to green, the key is to spend the right amount of time in the orange zone, with minute-or-so forays into red.
“In the 36 hours [after your workout], you’ll burn up another 600 additional calories, without working out again,” says Carr.
(Not to be misleading: Your body is always burning calories, exercise or not, but the idea here is that you’re burning more calories than you normally would. Basically: increasing your metabolism.)
Three such workouts a week, and you’re golden. They call it "the Orange Effect."
The parameters of your heart rate zones depend on general factors like gender and age, with possible adjustments made for personal variances. (“Some people just have faster heart rates,” says Carr.)
This is actually a similar, simplified approach to the metabolic testing I underwent at SMH HealthFit as part of a fitness story in our January issue. That process, which likely wouldn't be easy to replicate on a large scale, gathered heart rate and oxygen consumption information from which a trainer could design customized workouts that balanced calorie-burning with muscle maintenance.
Of course, I can’t do any of these things right now with my leg still in a cast for my broken fibula. (Although using crutches on a treadmill is an amusing image to me.) After an initial three weeks, the orthopedist removed the cast…and promptly game me another one—this time with a little cast-sandal, so I have permission to hobble on it, although the crutches are still more efficient for longer distances. It’s the same idea as a walking boot, but cheaper (…and I still can’t take a normal shower, argh).
Two more weeks with this cast, and then some kind of removable splint, thank goodness. Can’t wait.