Full Circle Fitness: OrangeTheory Fitness

When my mom moved to Madison, she started working out. She had never lived in a town where this was a possibility and I was thrilled! I was so very supportive and I did not ask a lot of questions (I didn’t want to be the annoying doctor kid). Then one of my super fit friends (like “fit” as in “she runs half marathons while 7 months pregnant”-fit) said that she worked out with my mom. I was immediately intrigued. What in the world was my mom doing working out with Ms. Pregnant Marathoner? She has been lifting weights, rowing, and running on a treadmill?! That is when I started asking questions.

Where can fitness fanatics and exercise newbies do the same workout with near equivalent results? Orangetheory Fitness. And I have drunk the kool-aid.

I sat down and talked with my favorite Madison OTF instructor, Karen. She makes me hate life for about 28 minutes each Friday during the treadmill segment, but then I sing her praises for the rest of the weekend because I feel fantastic. So many times I have wanted to quit, but she is super encouraging when you are “feeling uncomfortable”. She will give us the ins and outs of OTF: how and why it works.

Can you explain the Orangetheory?

Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) is a total-body, heart-rate-based, interval training workout. It is based on the science-backed idea that if you challenge your body at the right intensity for the right amount of time, your body must work extra hard to replace the oxygen lost during exercise. This increases both metabolism and calorie burn (even after the workout is over.)

Why does this work for all fitness levels?

Orangetheory provides an individualized experience, and each person is encouraged to work at his or her own pace. Members wear heart-rate monitors during class, which display real-time performance data on screens in the studio. Intensity is based on each person’s individual heart rate zones, and coaches lead the workouts to help you know when to push yourself, preventing both over and under training.

What if someone has physical limitations?

In the weight room, coaches provide options tailored to an individual’s needs to ensure exercises are effective but safe. Instead of the treadmill, members may use a strider or a stationary bicycle, which are low-impact options for those with orthopedic restrictions or injuries.

Are the weights necessary? Why not just do a whole hour of cardio?

Strength training is an important part of overall health and fitness. It helps reduce fat, increase lean muscle, strengthen bone, and burn calories. Plus, since our muscle mass naturally declines as we age, strength training helps to counteract this process.

Is OTF a way to completely take care of my fitness needs to get me into good physical condition?

Absolutely. Not only does OTF offer a total body workout that incorporates both cardiovascular work and strength training, individual workouts focus on endurance, strength, power, or a combination of these. The workout changes everyday, so you’ll continue to challenge your body (and never get bored!)

Is OTF a good way to cross-train if you are preparing for marathon, Ironman, cycling, etc?

Yes, and we have many members who do use their OTF workouts as part of their training for specific sports or athletic events. Our members have the opportunity to focus on hill work, speed work, and build endurance on the treadmill, as well as add variety and expand their training by incorporating the rower, bike, strider, and a wide range of equipment in the weight room.

Is OTF only for women?

Definitely not! OTF provides a great workout for both men and women, and we have many male members. (Don’t worry, we have plenty of heavy dumbbells in the studio!)

What is your single best piece of advice for someone who wants to get in shape, or has been told by their doctor that they NEED to shed some weight, but is intimidated by gyms?

Find a community, because it will provide the encouragement, accountability, and fun that will help you stick to a new program. When it comes to reaching your goals, support matters. If you know someone is going to send you that “Missed you at the 8:45 class!” text, then it’s a lot harder to blow off the workout. OTF combines the benefits of group exercise with the individual attention and experience of working with a coach. People of all ages and fitness levels, including those who are not comfortable in a traditional gym setting, have found their fitness tribe at OTF.

Karen Nabavi is a Fitness Coach at Orangetheory Fitness in Madison, MS. She is passionate about helping others achieve their health and fitness goals, whether they are long-time athletes or just starting down this path for the first time. She is a NASM-certified personal trainer and an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor. She has a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University, and a master’s degree from Georgetown University. She lives in Rankin County with her husband and two boys, ages 5 and 6.

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