Orangetheory: An Orange Crush is Exactly What I Needed\nI am overweight and out of shape. This is not easy for me to admit, especially as someone who has worked in the outdoor industry for two decades. I\u2019m an active hiker and adventurer, and I\u2019d always relied on getting outdoors to stay fit. But now that I am in my forties, shedding pounds is tougher than ever. I\u2019ve tried a lot of fitness gyms over the years, but I had never enrolled in an organized workout class in my life.\nSo I was both skeptical and nervous when I enrolled for a month of classes at Orangetheory Fitness Asheville. Okay, I was more than nervous: I was freaking out. I knew only one thing about Orangetheory: High Intensity Training. That sounded way out of my league. I couldn\u2019t do a single push up. But I promised myself to give it a try. I had nothing to lose\u2014except maybe a few pounds.\n\nMy first class\nI walked in to the Orangetheory studio, and it was beautiful: light-filled, open, with glass walls separating the workout studio from the lobby. I checked in at the desk, where I was given a chest strap heart-rate monitor, which is synced to the screen in the workout studio. The screen displays every class member\u2019s first name, heart rates, calories burned and target zones are made simple, as they are color-coded.\n\n\n\nOrangetheory is based on a simple principle: elevate your heart rate through high-intensity training for 12 minutes or more each one-hour workout. Heart rates are divided into zones, and the goal of each class is to spend 12 or more minutes in the orange zone or above\u2014which is roughly 84 percent of your maximum heart rate.\nOur instructor, Aaron Ostwald, was a friendly, smiling instructor who quickly dispelled some of my anxiety by giving me a high-five as I walked in. There were about 20 others in the class, and they weren\u2019t all young and super-fit as I\u2019d imagined. There are high schoolers and senior citizens, but most of them are middle-aged women like me.\nWearing a headset, Aaron offered a few opening words of inspiration, and then cranked the music full-volume. Since today\u2019s workout focused on 90-second intervals, Aaron selected a mix of upbeat 90s songs: Backstreet Boys, Britney, Alanis, R.E.M, and even a little Marky Mark and MC Hammer, too.\n\n\n\nOur class broke into two sections: half of us started on the treadmill, and the other half began on the rowing machines. For the next thirty minutes, I power walked, as fast as I could, and even tried to run a little\u2014something that does not come easy for me at all. As I worked harder, I saw my color-coded heart rate on the big screen at the front of the studio and the numbers were going up. Every few minutes, Aaron pushed us to pick up our pace and push ourselves to the orange zone for a minute or two and then recover to and try to get back down in the green heart rate zone. Aaron helped me tweak my form while I tried not to get blown off the back of the treadmill.\n\n\n\nAfter about twenty-five or thirty minutes of cardio, my half of the class switched to the rowing machine and strength training. I\u2019d never been on a rowing machine, but Aaron coached me through it, and by the end of the class, I felt ready for a regatta. The strength training was especially tough, though. I used my knees to do half push-ups and barely made it through the burpees. My core strength is nonexistent, but at least I know what exercises to expect next time.\nThe coolest thing about my first day of Orangetheory Fitness Asheville, was the performance summary that I received via email after the class. \nThe workout went by so fast and I was off to work and then boom\u2026there was my proof, my reminder, my encouragement\u2026earlier that day in the workout, I\u2019d burned 530 calories, earned 30 splat points, and my average heart rate was 154, which was 82% avg of max. I was so proud of that!\n\nTwo weeks later\nSometimes I still feel like I\u2019m going to throw up after each class, just kidding, but I am actually starting to get the hang of it. It\u2019s super-motivating to see my heart rate displayed on the big screen, and I\u2019ve been able to keep my heart rate in the orange zone for 12 minutes in almost every class. That means I am achieving the afterburn effect: the high-intensity training causes muscles to burn more calories and fat for 24 to 36 hours after the workout. I\u2019m not sure if I\u2019ve lost any weight so far, but I am definitely gaining strength, speed, and confidence.\n\n\n\nI also feel a lot more comfortable on the rowing machines and performing the strength training exercises. Aaron and Brittney Baldwin, the other awesome instructor at our Asheville studio have helped me dial in my strength training exercises in the weight room, as well as my rowing form. It\u2019s really great to have the instructors right there guiding you along the way, and their emphasis on safety and orthopedic issues is reassuring for sure. They always demonstrate every exercise they ask you to do, and they also offer alternatives, which is helpful. I\u2019ve been doing push-ups on my knees and I\u2019m excited to say that I\u2019ve finally done my first full push-up...just barely, but I did it!\n\n\n\n\n\nOrangetheory emails me a performance summary with results after each workout, which keeps me motivated to keep pushing harder. They also mix up the classes each day with different themes and challenges. The other day we did a Tornado, where we rotated from treadmill to rowing machine to strength training at a fast pace. The time at each station was short and extremely intense, but the class flew by. It was probably the fastest and hardest 60 minutes of my life. It\u2019s pretty cool that I\u2019ve been going for two weeks, and that every workout routine has been different.\n\n\n\nI never pictured myself as the kind of person who would attend an organized fitness class. But this feels different. It feels more like a community. The diversity in the fitness levels of the folks attending the classes is comforting. Everyone is working hard and cheering each other on which is quite invigorating. The encouragement and the one-on-one instruction from the coaches is motivating and well, it makes me want to go back.\nOne woman at our studio started out weighing over 500 pounds. It took incredible courage for her just to walk into the studio. Six months later, she has dropped 75 pounds, and more importantly, she has found a community of friends and supporters where she feels comfortable and connected. There\u2019s also an 82-year-old woman who can rock out through some of the toughest two-minute treadmill sprints.\n\n\n\nI am surprised by how much I like Orangetheory Fitness Asheville\u2014and even more surprised by how much I like pushing myself. Brittney and Aaron, have helped me choose to power through and have fun, with their upbeat music and happy funny comments on the microphone. Just the other day, I found myself talking about my OT classes and performance with friends. I can honestly say \u2013 it\u2019s addicting. And it\u2019s the most motivated I\u2019ve ever felt about my fitness.