By Mariah Wilson | Published April 2018

For today’s fitness aficionados, specialized or niche fitness workouts are all the rage. Orangetheory Fitness (OTF), the latest workout craze, is blowing up across the country, with more than 800 locations in the United States and counting. Husband and wife duo Alex and Amber Briant, founding members of the very first OTF location in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, opened the doors to their newest location in Eugene this January. Located in Oakway Center, it might just become your next fitness fixation.

OTF is a one-hour, five-zone, heart rate–based workout that combines treadmills, indoor rowing, and weight training to increase participants’ endurance and strength and to cull calories. “We use heart rate–based interval training, which burns more calories post-workout than a traditional exercise,” Amber Briant says. “Intensity is based on your individual heart rate zones, making the workout effective for all fitness levels, whether you’re a beginner or an athlete looking to improve performance.”

Orangetheory breaks down heart rates (individually calculated through age, weight, and height) into five color-coded zones representing different levels of effort:

  • Zones 1 and 2 are warm-up zones, requiring light activity
  • Zone 3 demands a moderately challenging pace that can be maintained for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Zone 4 is the coveted orange zone––where clients are working at 84 to 91 percent of their maximum heart rate––and the most important part of the workout
  • Zone 5 is the red zone, requiring all-out, heart-pumping maximum effort

The goal? To spend as much time in the orange and red zones as possible (at least 12 to 20 minutes).

Orangetheory asserts that spending 12 or more minutes in the top two heart rate zones produces an “afterburn” effect that causes your body to continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours after your workout. “Backed by the science of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), Orangetheory’s heart rate–monitored training is designed to maintain a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy,” Briant says. “We call it the ‘afterburner.’”

EPOC, the “afterburn,” is the theory that when working out at a sufficiently high level of energy, your body creates an oxygen deficit that must be restored after you finish your session. While your body works to repay its oxygen debt, calories continue to burn long after the workout is over, with participants burning an expected average of 15- to 20-percent more calories than their standard resting calorie burn.

To ensure that you always know your effort levels, an OTF heart rate monitor is strapped to your chest, tracking your performance in real time and displaying it on giant flat-screen TVs throughout the studio. In other words, if you’re slacking off, other class participants and the instructor are going to see it. “By using heart rate monitors, your individualized workout keeps adjusting as you become fitter, keeping it challenging regardless of what your fitness ability is,” Briant says. “Our fitness coaches are there to lead the workout and prevent you from over- or under-training.” The more participants can match their exertion to their heart rate, the more successful they will be at attaining the coveted afterburn. After every workout, participants get a summary of how they did, which can be tracked in a smartphone app.

Each OTF class is different and has a distinct focus––endurance, strength, or power. “Orangetheory has scientifically formulated workouts, which change on a daily basis. We never repeat the same workout twice,” says Briant. “Being that it’s full body and constantly changing, it keeps the body guessing, avoiding the ‘workout plateau.’”

The class is generally broken up into two groups. One group starts on the treadmills for interval work while the other starts on the floor, where participants do everything from rowers to lifting weights to push-ups. The intervals also vary; on some days they’re timed and on others they employ the principle of “as many reps as possible.” Throughout the workout, music pumps loudly while the instructor roams the room, correcting form, suggesting modifications, ensuring appropriate time is spent in each zone, and encouraging participants.

“Each workout is modifiable to accommodate people with exercise restrictions, as well as our equipment being specifically geared toward low impact,” Briant says. “But it’s not the equipment that makes the workout so incredible; it’s the unique formulation of the workouts and how they leverage the equipment that is key.”

If you’re interested in torching calories, losing weight, and getting fit––without the monotony of a spin class or the high impact of CrossFit––Orangetheory Fitness is worth checking out. “Imagine the best training experience you’ve ever had, at a fraction of the cost, paired with the accountability, fun, and energy of a group workout environment,” Briant says. “Being the industry leader in group fitness, it was love at first workout for us!”

Orangetheory Fitness, 23 Oakway Center, 541/636-0095, orangetheoryfitness.com