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.


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.


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:


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: Fitwall Leaside

On Wednesday, with some of my fit friends in tow, I headed to Fitwall Leaside, a new fitness studio which utilizes the Fitwall’s Vertical Training System to focus on increasing muscular strength, coordination, balance, and core stability. The Fitwall was designed to incorporate as many muscles in single movements as possible and does so by moving exercises from the horizontal plane to the vertical plane. Think squats and mountain climbers while rock climbing!


The Studio

Located a few blocks South of Eglinton on Bayview, Fitwall is on the second floor in the heart of Bayview village. You’ll find plenty of street parking available, both for pay at the meters or for free throughout the residential community. Fitwall is a 2,000 square foot studio with shared washrooms with a spa on the same floor, no showers or change rooms, but plenty of bag storage in a visible area of the studio. 10 Fitwall units are spaced with plenty of room to move around the studio. Each unit also contains a TV which can be connected with your heart rate monitor to monitor your exertion rate throughout the 30 minute class. Towels were also provided during and after class.

1376571_650271208327110_410973976_nMy Experience

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this class. I had heard of Fitwall through social media but didn’t really know what we would be doing or exactly how we would be using the wall. To be honest, if you’re interested, the best way is to check it out for yourself (See bottom of my post for an awesome Fitwall deal). We were sweaty and the next day we were all sore.

The 30 minute class is spent performing 30 second intervals of different strength and cardio activities using the Fitwall and its various attachments including a push up bar and resistance tubing attached to your ankles. The instructors model the moves in between and Jenn and Jon were great at clarifying and providing safety cues as required. For a few days after my lats were feeling very sore and it is safe to say the muscles in my back and arms got a workout that they hadn’t had in a while as a result of the vertical direction of training.

The experience of vertical training was definitely new to me and I, like most newbies, found myself holding a continuous “death grip” on the wall. I have been rock climbing once, so the action of gripping the wall led my hands and forearms to be quite sore as the class progressed. Like many new experiences, I don’t doubt that after a few classes, as strength is built in my arms, and I have a better understanding of how the movements are performed that this feeling will go away – similar to a sore butt during a spin class – eventually as your body adjusts parts of the class get easier.


The Cost

The cost for each class is not easy to find on their website. They sell class packages versus single drop in class options which is an interesting idea. As a fitness professional I like it because in order to notice a change you need to be at it more consistently than a drop in. However I also wonder how many people are turned away by this commitment. Monthly packages start at $100, under $20 a session and although they are sold “monthly” can be carried over If not used.



I had a fun time trying out this new workout. We all experienced a serious sweaty cardio effect from the strength training and intervals and we were all feeling it the next day, especially in our arms and back. If you are looking for something new to not only challenge your strength but coordination and balance, I definitely suggest you grab a monthly package and hit the Fitwall!

And to make it easier to use your body as the machine Fitwall is offering free trial classes for my fitness community – so mention my blog and sweat for free! Thanks Fitwall!

Studio Review: Studio Lagree

Friday morning I had the pleasure (although my inner thighs and obliques will tell you differently) of attending an M3 Fusion class at Studio Lagree.  Located at 435 Spadina Rd Toronto, Studio Lagree offers Pilates reformer style classes which are conducted on a custom designed “Megaformer” and as their website states is “the most innovative, aggressive and time efficient approach to full body conditioning”.

  The Studio


I arrived to the studio which is more North on Spadina than I usually travel – up in Forest Hill – and found plenty of parking, both on the street and there is a “Green P” very close as well. The studio is well marked from street level and you enter by walking up some narrow stairs to the second floor. The stairwell (which has a sign at the top that states “Your legs may be more worn-out than you think…Please use handrail & watch your step” – eek!) opens into a very modern space of chrome and metallic red.  There are two change stalls available as well as washrooms and self locking lockers. I was told one washroom had a shower, but I didn’t check it out. The facility also offers a large lounge space to wait prior to class and a giant TV which shows a real of news clips featuring the “megaformer” and Lagree Fitness.  I suggest not arriving to early on your first class, because with a giant window into the gym you can see the fitness “torture” (the good kind) that you will soon be enduring. Although if you do, there is plenty of reading material from Hollywood celebs who in various magazines (displayed on the walls) confess their obsession with Lagree Fitness – check out my favourite by Courtney Cox circa 2005.

My Experience

The 50 minute class went by very quickly and as I eluded to above, I was very sore the next day (and dreading my 35km run – which I still did). Now I’m not sure if I’m getting lazy with my strength training, but I’m really loving these “reformer” “gravity” or “megaformer” style Pilates class. Being able to get a great “ouch inducing” workout while lying down is certainly lots of fun.


Now, what is a “megaformer” you ask? As I tried to explain to my husband, it’s like a single bed. Where the ends of the bed are fixed and the middle part slides back and forth and is attached with springs to change the tension. Depending on the body parts to be worked, you place your feet on different parts of the fixed end and use your various muscles to slide back and forth. E.g., for a lunge, your front planted leg is on the fixed part of the “megaformer” and with selected tension your back leg slides out as you lower into the lunge and slides back in as you return to the starting position.

The class was a lot of fun and was definitely challenging. You work your muscles to the point of fatigue (lots of variations for different levels) then roll over and give another muscle group a go. As the website states, “Lagree Fitness is the unique fusion of strength, core, cardio/circuit training and stretching into an intense, shirt-drenching, 50-minute exercise experience” and it was. They provide towels around the room and during a quick change I hopped off to grab one. The pace is fairly quick between moves which doesn’t provide much time to stall and rest by grabbing a drink – so be sure to hydrate before you arrive.

The Cost

A great thing about your first class, is that it’s free! You can register online and they have MANY class options all day long from 6am to 10pm. The cost for the classes after your first is in the range of other Pilates reformer/gravity style classes but is certainly the most expensive when compared to other TO studios such as Misfit, Union, and Movemeant (single classes at Lagree are $35).



So, while it certainly is “North” of my typical workout jurisdiction, I have found myself a few times now trying to figure out the shortest route from my work to the studio and vice versa.  I definitely suggest trying it out – especially with a couple of friends, so when your glutes are screaming and your face is so twisted from the (good) torture, you can look at someone you know and have a good laugh together. Also, by going with a friend, you’ll  have someone to whine with the next day when your inner thighs are killing – and then together you can head back for more! Because like “they”  say, “Summer bodies are built in the spring!” (and by “they” I mean one of my torture partners seen here in the back, Ky)