Fitness Review: Orange Theory Fitness

Mid august 2013 and I had a chance to witness the evolution of fitness in the commercial gym with the launch of the new David Lloyd Studio in Islington, endorsing a new brand of training known as Orange Theory Fitness. My overall thoughts are a big thumbs up for beginning the move away from the Les Mills domination to something more individualised and less copycat and Zombie Fitness.

Individualised because now people get to see how hard they are working by having their own personal performance monitored and viewed on a big screen. After taking down your age, height and weight a rough calculation is made of your maximum heart rate. You’re then given a heart rate monitor to wear so that when you enter their impressive shiny studio you see a big screen with your heart rate reading displayed.

The main reading however is your current energy zone characterised by a colour. If you are working between 75 and 85% of your max heart rate you are considered to be in the green zone. However, between 85 and 92% you are in the orange zone where it is believed that you get the greatest benefit in terms of EPOC, Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption. To us we know it as afterburn and creating this allows us to burn fat when resting.

The classes are an hour long; my class was half cardio and half floor work involving dumbell and TRX training. The moves are still quite simple so not as sophisticated as the exercises in Crossfit and TACFIT but perfect for beginners and still challenging enough for me to start blowing smoking. Was also a good opportunity for myself to practise my barefoot running and I realised that I didn’t have to push it that much on the treadmill speed to get and stay in orange zone, showing that barefoot running, although you may not break PBs you might burn more calories when doing it right.

Despite my loyalties to Fitness First I have not hesitated to encourage others to go and get a free trial at the club at least to understand the benefit of such a precision-based and individualised method of training.

Another eye-opening factor for me was how difficult some found it to remain within the orange zone, possibly suggesting that their bodies still hadn’t become efficient enough at producing energy at varying intensities for different activities. Something which only develops with time and it shows that we should avoid quick fix approaches when adopting fitness as a method to improve our quality of life.

So happy to have tried this out and a privilege to be one of the first to review the concept in the UK. Needless to say, the setting is amazing (admittedly a bit ‘weary fairy, shiny shiny’) and the staff were very welcoming.