Sweat It Out: Orangetheory Fitness

At the end of October I was invited to check out Orangetheory Fitness in Oakville. I had seen this company popping up on my social from their Ottawa center and was excited to give their interval based training a try. After checking out the Oakville studio I was hooked and within two days I found myself at their Park Lawn location signing up for a monthly unlimited pass. Here’s what OTF is all about.

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What is OTF?

Essentially, OTF combines intervals of water rowing with strength training and various treadmill running intervals for a killer one hour workout. Classes are designed to push you into the “Orange Zone,”(get it…Orangetheory Fitness) which translates to 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate, for 12 to 20 minutes of the workout.

Throughout the workout you are tracked through your heart rate monitor (via chest strap or wrist band) to TV monitors throughout the center and your metrics including heart rate, calories burned, heart rate zones, and what OTF refer to as “splat points” are displayed.

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The Science.

OTF is backed by the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC), where their heart rate monitored training workouts are designed for you to maintain a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. When you first enroll you give them your height and weight and this is used to give you specific metrics from anyone else. During the workout you are encouraged to earn 12 or more “splat points” (aka spend 12 or more minutes in their orange or red heart rate training zones) in order to experience what they call “the after burn”. OTF claims that their members “burn an estimated 500 to 1,000 calories in 60 minutes” and with this after burn “keep burning calories for up to 36 hours.” I have now attended 6 classes and my calories have ranged from 510-600, and I’ve seen the monitors of others displaying calories in the 1000 range. Here’s some data emailed post workout from my first visit:

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A Typical Workout.

Now there is no one class, according to an instructor last week they have 364 unique classes (they are closed on Christmas day). The classes follow four themes—endurance, strength, power, or a combination of all three on the same day. So you’ll spend 20-25 minutes doing cardio, 20-25 minutes doing weight lifting or rowing which could include TRX, medicine balls, free weights, body weight exercises – in my six classes I have yet to do the same exercises twice.

The Draw For Me.

After attending this free class I actually purchased an unlimited monthly class pass. What I like about OTF is that it gives me my strength training which I’m often lacking with my busy training and work schedule. It’s competitive but it’s also not. In one class you’ll have ultra-competitive and experienced folks (like a guy last week in his Boston Marathon shirt) and then people who are clearly new to fitness, older, and just needing to move. Also having the heart rate monitor and seeing how hard you’re working, means for me, that I can’t slack off – but don’t think this means other people see you metrics – well the physically do, but no one cares. Typically you don’t know peoples names and people are so concerned with their own workout that I’ve never heard of anyone passing judgement on the results of others. We’re all in this killer workout together. Plus, the workout is always different and changes every day so that makes it fun too.

Top of the line equipment, great music, killer moves, if you’re looking for something different day after day this is definitely a workout you should check out. Studios are popping up all over the GTA and they have various priced packages depending on your goals and workout needs. Check out OTF online to find a center near you.

Studio Review: MuseMovement

Last week I was invited by Keri O’Mera, former Misfit and movement therapy specialist, to check out Toronto’s newest Pilates studio, founded by Keri, MuseMovement.

photo 5(2)MuseMovement is located in a former school, now the Artscape Youngplace building, a community cultural hub in the Queen West-Ossington neighbourhood. When I first entered the building I felt as though I had been transported to NYC. The use of space, maintenance of old architecture, and connection to the community was simple outstanding.

Located on the second floor, MuseMovement  resides in a warm, light-filled, converted classroom. The open concept space maintains the original 1914 school charm while providing opportunity for both mat work and Pilates reformer machine work.

Keri basis her teaching on the motto “Move your body, move your mind, move your heart”, a quote which comes from her own experience with the transformative power of mobility and is on display inside the studio.

Move Your Body.

photo 4(3)The class I took was a classic Reformer class. 60 minutes on a Pilates reformer machine, think a sliding bed with springs which add different resistance levels to the sliding part. I had just finished a 20km run prior to the class, and while I was excited for the experience I wasn’t excited for the work (aka pain from my muscles already being so fatigued).

We assumed our first position on the reformer which was face up lying on our backs we warmed up and spine and I made note of the fact my lower spine wasn’t moving much – something I had been aware of for the past couple of weeks. The great thing about using a reformer is that is provides a full body workout which is healthy for your joints, and increases your heart rate while building strength. The reformer machine adds personally selected weight and resistance to your Pilates workout but also supports developing range of motion and is a whole lot of fun. Keri took us through the 60 minute class and by the end my stiff spine felt ooey and gooey loose. The mobility sequences definitely opened by hips, lengthened my hamstrings, and had a positive impact on the range of motion of my lower back.

Move Your Mind.

photo 3(6)Keri is a self-professed anatomy nerd and it’s obvious. Her instructional cues and teaching prompts are filled with technical anatomical language that will only leave you smarter and more self aware as you exit the classroom. Her attention to form and alignment allows her to support the needs and levels of all participants and makes movement a great place for beginners as well as those looking for a deeper experience.

Move Your Heart.

photo 1(8)MuseMovement is a community space clearly filled with love. Keri herself is overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity to share her once home business with the greater community, and by simple entering the unique studio space you will feel that passion and joy she brings to her teaching.

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If you’re looking for community based Pilates studio with small class sizes and personalized service MuseMovement is for you. Ranging from the low rate of $17 for a mat class, and $31 for a reformer (mat rate is FAR below city trend, and reformer is right on par) the experienced and flexible instructors will create a movement experience tailored to your individual needs and wants.

Keri and her team have a special event planned for yogis interested in Pilates. Details below.

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Studio Review: Movemeant

IMG_2595Last weekend (Saturday, Jan 5) I had the pleasure of attending two opening weekend classes at movemeant, Toronto’s newest Cycling, TRX, and Gravity studio. Opened by Queen st. w. lululemon alumni ambassador Matt Kenny, the studio blends the most current in boutique fitness trends with the lofty heritage building feel of Queen West (the studio is located at 777 Richmond Street West (Loft #2026); look for the giant metal doors).

Movemeant specializes in indoor cycling, TRX, Gravity, and ashtanga yoga, and all classes are lead by Matt. I had the pleasure of catching a 45min sweat inducing cycling class and sticking around for a glute shaking 30 minute TRX suspension training session.

IMG_2592For indoor cycling, Movemeant uses the Schwinn AC Sport bike which I can honestly say are the smoothest and quietest ride I’ve ever had.  These bikes are top of the line as they use a magnetic disc for resistance which drops closer to the flywheel with ever turn of the tension dial without ever touching, this is what keeps the ride so smooth. At some quiet points in the class you could actually hear the purring of the wheels – it was awesome! Matt taught as his usual amazing self. He blends a fusion of yoga and self-reflection concepts with cycling motivation and excitement- he has a very strong following within the Toronto fitness community. His tough love style – “if you’re not adding on tension, you might as well be sitting on the couch” – motivates his followers and challenges you to turn up that dial and leave it on the floor! With a great selection of music, clear directions and safety cues, and challenging profiles, it’s no wonder these classes were sold out within days.

One interesting feature to the cycling class is that you need to bring your own set of headphones to plug directly into the bike.  All music and the instructors microphone are played through your headphones which gives you  full control of the volume.  Many riders loved this idea. I found it slightly isolating, as I love to “wooo” when asked how I’m feeling. The headphones made it feel like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) do that.

The true perk of the ride came afterwards when Matt  passed out cold facecloths  that had been soaked in eucalyptus and bergamot – a wonderful treat after a very sweaty ride

IMG_2593Later I attended a TRX class. I’m very familiar with the TRX program and enjoyed the challenge that Matt offered. In classes at other studios I often found that variety in skills was lacking and that the class was tailored to more general fitness levels.  Matt was able to differentiate the class for all levels and with only 6 suspension straps each participant can get the attention (and challenge) they need.

The studio is small, but very stylish. They do not have “change rooms” but do offer change stalls (note: they do not have showers). They do offer plenty of storage space for your belonging during class (no lockers, but lots of racks and cubbies). For a small fee you can rent clip shoes for cycling as well as hand towels. Matt has done a great job of maximizing space, and creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere that is guaranteed to kick your butt!

Movemeant offers nearly 30 classes a week on evenings and weekend. With rates that are comparable to other local studios. With drop-in and multi-class packages, you’ll definitely be able to find something that meets your needs, so be sure to check them out!