Let’s Talk About O-T-F

Not WTF.


Although if I’m being totally honest, a lot of WTF’s come over my face in the hour during which I am patronizing OTF. Orange Theory Fitness the exercise craze with which I am currently having a love/hate relationship.

For the record I think pretty much anyone I’ve ever met knows I despise exercise. Like in the way some people despise going to the dentist or the DMV.

But being that, you know, I’m 39, and my metabolism isn’t what it once was (understatement of the year), I like to eat junk and I don’t want to die young, exercise is just part of the game. And I get bored easily. So when OTF opened up in town, I hopped on board that train.

Basically, if you’ve never heard of it, OTF is a one stop shop for cardio and strength training. There are two basic parts to the workout: the treadmill portion and the weight room portion.

But first, FIRST, before you even get inside the actual exercise room, you have to put on a heart monitor which displays your name, heart rate and calories burned on a jumbotron-like device to keep you honest. Nothin’ like a little shame to keep you moving, I always say. And you can’t put this baby on in the car, no sir. You have to take it inside to put it on because it requires being sprayed with water in order to “read properly”. Which means you have to lift up your shirt in the tiny lobby, in front of all your classmates to strap the sucker on. And don’t we all know how much a 39 year old mother of two enjoys lifting up her shirt to display for all her classmates the WHOLE ENTIRE REASON she is coming to the class in the first place?

So after you get the strap on, you go inside the exercise room and feel like you’ve left the strip club and entered a Day Glo party circa 1996. It’s orange in there. The lights are all orange. This isn’t why they call it Orange Theory. If you really want to know why they call it that, you’ll have to google it. Ain’t nobody got time to explain that at 2:00 am during the period of insomnia that follows  changing wet kid sheets. (Which, mind you, hasn’t happened for like six MONTHS so of course on the very night I decided to abandon my ingenious double layer sheet/waterproof mattress pad strategy, the child wets the bed. Of freaking course).

Where was I?  Oh yeah. Google it.

But basically the name Orange Theory has to do with keeping your heart rate in the proper range. This brings me to the heart rate ranges. Allow me to give a brief description of each:

Gray: Gray means you aren’t really doing shit. Gray is sitting on a park bench eating an ice cream cone.

Blue: Blue means your moving, but barely. Blue is a stroll along the beach with a cocktail in hand.

Green: Green means you think you’re awesome. Green is a jog on a beautiful 70 degree day. You can hang in green. All day long.

Orange: Orange means you’re in the sweet spot. Wait, did I say sweet? I meant sweat. Sweat spot. Orange is where you get sweaty and uncomfortable. Orange is winded. Sweaty and winded. Orange laughs at how you felt in green.

Red: Red means you are literally on the verge of a heart attack. Well, okay, not literally. But red evokes feelings of death for me. Red means the kind of labor pains you have RIGHT before you get your epidural. DEFCON 1. I spend very little time in red. Red can kiss my ass. Bye, Felicia.

Black: Black means you deh’ (you’re dead). Just kidding. Black isn’t really a thing.

Now, when you’re on the treadmill, there are three speeds and inclines at which you run (or walk) to make up your intervals. Allow me to break these down for you as well:

Base: Base pace is the speed you can hypothetically jog for 20-30 minutes comfortably. At this pace, you feel like you are kicking ass and taking names. If only they let you stay there. I’m all about that base.

Push: Push pace is a few notches above your base when you start thinking, oh hell naw…you for real?? The first push is usually when you have to take a break to go to the bathroom because, you know, childbirth. A push will get you into the orange in a jiffy. And if it doesn’t, the instructor can see it on the jumbotron and comes over to tell you to suck it up buttercup and push a little harder. With love, of course. (I heart you KW).

All out: All out pace is when you realize there is a clear and present danger of flying off the end of the treadmill America’s Funniest Home Video style.

After the treadmill portion comes the weight room portion (or vice versa).

The weight room is comprised of many different pieces of equipment for many different exercises which is great for my boredom factor. But it’s close quarters, my friends. If your neighbor had onions in her breakfast omelet, you’re going to know about it.

The good news is that in the weight room, there is much less probability of wetting your pants or getting road rash on your face. There are weights, BOSU, TRX, Ab Dollies, medicine balls and other such gym ratty apparatuses you maybe never heard of. There are burpees, which make me suicidal. And there are floor exercises. Speaking of floor exercises, a word to the wise: use a mat people. Even when you feel you don’t have a drop of energy left, and the walk to the mat wall seems more than you can bear, dammit man, get the freaking mat. I once made the mistake of doing some weird weighted sit ups with no mat and paid a hefty price in the way of a strawberry on my tailbone. It burned in the shower for crying out loud. Don’t say I didn’t (say I didn’t) warn you.

So that about sums it up.

Usually when class is over, after about 15 minutes of feeling like I’m gonna puke (my wise old friend CD once told me it’s not a workout until you have water shooting from your teeth), I feel pretty damn good about myself. It’s hard work. But I like it because it’s a lot of bang for my buck. And it’s inside which means air conditioning and fans.

Girls hit your hallelujah…(whoo!) I love my teachers (even when they bust my chops on speed and weight). I love the people I meet, but to whom I can’t really talk during class because I’m sucking wind so hard. I love that they send me an email of my performance summary when it’s over and I can try to do better the next time. And most of all, I love when it’s over.

Walk it down in 3-2-1….


**(In all seriousness, OTF is for ANYONE. I know I make it sound as enjoyable as a root canal, but that’s all in fun. Don’t let me scare you. Anyone can do OTF at their own pace. There are people of all levels of fitness who participate. Therein lies the beauty of OTF…everyone has their own orange. I highly recommend trying a free class.)