Gym members get heart rate-based workouts at the county's first Orangetheory

For Howard Magazine

At Howard County’s first Orangetheory gym, workouts are competitive – but members’ only opponents are themselves.

Designed to increase energy and stimulate the metabolism, Orangetheory’s one-hour sessions combine cardio and strength training while monitoring exercisers’ heart rates in real time. And individuals’ “results” are displayed on large screens, changing color as they hit target heart rates.

It’s an approach that helps people make the most of their gym time without a lot of thought, says Crystal Herbert, studio manager at Orangetheory in Columbia.

“They come in and they don’t have to think about it,” she says. “The workout is already programmed for them, and they can turn their brains off for a good hour and not think about anything else.”

Led by an instructor, workouts can include exercises on treadmills, rowing machines and a “strength floor” with free weights. The combination rotates daily, and new routines are implemented monthly to keep it challenging.

“The workouts change, so you don’t know what you’re going to get until you show up, which makes it more of an exciting workout than Pilates or yoga for me,” says Heather McLeod, a 32-year-old Baltimore resident who works near Orangetheory’s Columbia location. “You get hooked on seeing how far you can push yourself.”

McLeod has lost 40 pounds since she began Orangetheory workouts at other locations two years ago.

“When I started I was not athletic in any way, but that has changed,” McLeod says.

At Orangetheory, exercisers work to get their heart rates in color-coded “zones” described as percentages of their maximum heart rates. The orange zone – 84 to 91 percent of an individual’s maximum heart rate – is optimal, according to the fitness franchise, which has locations across the U.S. and in several countries.

The first class at Columbia’s Orangetheory is free, and drop-in classes are $28. Membership packages are tailored to the individual’s schedule and fitness goals.

“It’s a really positive environment and there’s not a lot of competition between people,” McLeod says. “It’s very encouraging and uplifting to only be competing against yourself to make your body the best it can be.”

If you go

Orangetheory Fitness

6181 Old Dobbin Lane, Suite 700, Columbia


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