Orange Theory Fitness Comes to Calgary

Orange Theory Fitness Comes to Calgary This fitness class attaches you to a heart rate monitor and uses screens and colour coding to track progress By Meghan Jessiman   November 06, 2014   Orange Theory Fitness or OTF originated in Florida in 2010, just as the concept of High Intensity…

Orange Theory Fitness Comes to Calgary

This fitness class attaches you to a heart rate monitor and uses screens and colour coding to track progress



Orange Theory Fitness or OTF originated in Florida in 2010, just as the concept of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was gaining popularity in the international fitness community as one of the fastest and most efficient methods for burning fat and losing weight. Four years and more than 117 locations across North America later, OTF has finally made its way to Calgary. The tech-infused take on HIIT training is currently in Creekside and Royal Oak with plans for expansion three more Orange Theory locations in 2015. It’s clear that this interval-focused workout style is already, well, a hit, but here’s what the uninitiated need to know heading into their first OTF experience.

What to expect at a class

Before class, every participant (up to 24 of them) is attached to a heart rate monitor which syncs with a large screen in the studio to display everyone’s vital statistics (heart rate, caloric burn and what percentage of their maximum heart rate they are currently working at) throughout the during the session.

Every class is different. The eight exercise physiologists who currently work out of Orange Theory’s Calgary locations create a variety of heart-pumping fitness formats. In general, classes are broken into 30 minutes of heart rate-based interval training on either treadmills, spin bikes or water rowers. Trainers take participants through their base pace (an easy 71 to 83 percent of their maximum heart rate), push pace (a challenging 84 to 90 percent of their maximum heart rate) and all-out pace (a full sprint at 84 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate), dropping back and forth between intensities to keep their systems guessing and the sweat flowing. Each level of exertion is colour coded and orange is displayed when you hit the all-out pace.

That 30 minutes is followed by 30 minutes of dynamic strength and functional training with equipment like dumbbells, medicine balls, bosu balls, benches, body weight movements and TRX suspension trainers.

“We want to keep it fun and keep your body guessing. Results happen when the body gets a little adventure,” says Michael McDonald, co-owner of the Creekside and Royal Oak locations.

Keeping track of it all

“HIIT has been a very trendy word for a couple of years. However, most individuals do not use their heart rate to indicate their intervals,” explains McDonald. This is where Orange Theory’s classes set themselves apart from those trying to execute HIIT sessions on their own and why devotees reap serious results, both physically and on the cardiovascular endurance front. “Ensuring you reach the proper heart rate zone matters and is extremely relevant to making this style of training effective. If you aren’t sure what zone you are in, you are just guessing.”

Fitness nerds rejoice at the fact that Orange Theory e-mails a post-workout report depicting exactly how many minutes were spent working in which zone. In an ideal workout, 12 to 21 minutes will be spent in the orange zone – the sweet spot for maximizing caloric burn even after you’re finished.

Feel the (after) burn

Yes, you read that correctly. The true beauty of HIIT training is that while you do burn a substantial amount of calories while you’re doing it (upwards of 500 in a 60-minute class), it actually primes your body to continue burning at an elevated pace for 24 to 36 hours after your session.

The human body requires oxygen and energy (in the form of calories) to return to its resting metabolism after a high-intensity interval workout. That afterburn can translate to an extra 15 calories being torched post-workout for every 100 calories burnt during.

Translation: No need to feel guilty if the only marathon-ing you do the day after a visit to Orange Theory is on Netflix.

Find Orange Theory Fitness at 126, 11988 Symon’s Valley Rd, N.W., 587-316-2121 and 317, 8888 Country Hills Blvd. N.W., 403-474-8959,

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