As I sit here typing this, my arms are sore as my fingers still manage to fly across the keyboard. But it’s a good kind of sore — the kind that feels like your body recognizes the hard work you put into exercising the day before.
And that’s all thanks to Orange Theory Fitness — a trending fitness chain with several locations in Westchester and Fairfield counties. When the editor — who took the class that was part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Bloomingdale’s White Plains — asked me to test out Orange Theory, I was a bit hesitant. I like to spend my weekends relaxing and getting errands done, which is typically my excuse for not working out as much as I used to. I’ve never liked high intensity interval training workouts in the past, but Orange Theory markets itself as grounded in science, so I decided to take one for the team and signed up for a free introductory class.
I went to the White Plains studio on a quiet Sunday afternoon and immediately noted how sweat-soaked the class before me appeared to be. I was outfitted with a heart rate monitor and given the rundown on how the class would work. Staffers explained there were five zones — Zone 1, the gray zone for very light activity; Zone 2, the blue warm-up zone; Zone 3, challenging-but-doable in green, Zone 4, the Orange Effect (for which the studio is named) and Zone 5, the red zone signifying all-out effort. Each zone represents the exertion you’re putting into your workout coupled with the targeted heart rate for each zone. The staff explained how much time should be spent in each zone and promised that if I was able to reach that amount of time, my body would continue burning fat hours after the exercise was done. That idea in itself was incentive enough, but the fact that the Orange Effect zone was designed to be challenging had me wondering if I was really ready for the workout.
Coach Ali Warshavsky led me into the studio before class started to explain the machines we would be using and blocked off a section for me, the only first-time attendee in that time slot. I was to start on the rowing machine, as all first-timers do, which made me nervous. Despite my younger sister being a big rower at her New England boarding school, I had never really even sat on the machine for fear of having bad form or looking inexperienced at my own gym. Warshavsky, a young, energetic instructor, made me feel comfortable right away, which melted away my fears.
The 60 minutes began and I sat on the rower, using whatever leg muscles I have left over from my long gone days of high school sports to pull as hard as I could. “Good form,” Warshavsky told me, giving me some extra pep for the rest of the workout. After warming up on the rowing machine, we split into two groups, and I was in the first group to head to the floor workout.
We completed four rounds of a combination of sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups and squats, doing 11 repetitions of each exercise per round. The digestible amount of reps made it easier to get through, but after a round or two, I definitely started to feel the burn. Once we were done with the floor, we headed to the treadmills and rowing machines again.
When I initially checked in, I let the studio know I struggle with tendinitis in my knees and that running isn’t really an option for me. So, when we went on the treadmills, Warshavsky explained that I could power walk on an incline as an alternative. For my particular class, we were to row a total of 2,000 meters, which could be split up if we so chose. I chose to row 1,000 meters at a time, split up by power walking.
As Warshavsky counted down our final minutes of class, I was consistently in Zone 5 as I gave all my effort to meet my 2,000-meter goal on the rowing machine. Once I hit that goal, I let out a sigh of relief. As a nonrower, I felt pretty proud of myself.
Warshavsky led the group through a stretch to loosen up our muscles before sending us off. As I left, I reflected on how remarkably manageable the class had felt. I managed to get through each section without cursing my coach. For anyone looking to try a new type of full-body workout, Orange Theory is worth your time. The sheer number of repeat attendees made it clear to me that Orange Theory works — and is quite addicting.
Orange Theory Fitness White Plains is at 245 Mamaroneck Ave. Additional locations include Mamaroneck, Mount Kisco, Stamford and Norwalk. For more, visit orangetheoryfitness.com.