As a fitness junkie and frequent visitor of the Public Market, I’m stunned that my first time at Emeryville’s Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) is to write the article you are reading. OTF Emeryville opened in March 2017 and celebrated its 1,000th workout last month.
As soon as I walked through the doors located in the Public Market alleyway, I’m greeted by the friendly front desk staff. Although OTF is a franchise, it already feels like a local gym. Founded in South Florida in 2013. they’ve quickly grown to over 1,000 locations across 45 states and 21 countries in just five years. Boutique fitness spaces like Orangetheory that specialize in one or two disciplines are said to be slowly replacing traditional health clubs.
Eric Vorsatz, OTF’s Regional Sales & Operations Manager, was eager to talk about his gym, their staff and the benefits and science of their workouts. “Emeryville is still a relatively unknown gem,” says Vorsatz, “Our studio is becoming the most popular in this region … our utilization rate is 12% above the company standard and we’re almost at full capacity for every class.” OTF Emeryville has also partnered up with local companies to host group classes as a team building activity, “We’d love to fill the 1 p.m. slot everyday with company partners,” said Vorsatz, who wants the gym to integrate with Emeryville’s community.
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All you have to do is show up to OTF with your gym clothes. Forget the days of preparing your own workout plan or waiting for equipment. These 45 – 60 minute classes make for the perfect lunch break and have a knowledgeable coach pushing you to your maximum potential.
There’s an entire team whose job is constructing daily workouts that are so unique that they are only used once. Everyone on OTF’s Design Team has a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. They work together to craft 60-minute routines that are made up of a combination of cardio and strength training to work out the entire body. Different workouts will vary emphasis on endurance, strength, and power and are rotated throughout the week.
Where did the name “Orangetheory Fitness” come from? OTF is scientific — the workouts are backed by the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or “EPOC” sometimes referred to as “afterburn”) sports science. The interval training classes are based on the five heart rate training zones. OTF codes the zones by colors – grey means you are at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate, blue is 61-70%, green is 71-83%, orange is 84-91%, and red is 92-100%. Every class-goer wears a heart monitor and sees real-time data on screens displayed in the studio throughout the session.
Orange “Premier” member David Jagger says that using the heart rate monitor helps push him, especially when he sees other people’s green, blue, orange, and red colors pop up around my name on the display. “I always want to push into the next color whenever possible, so I’ll do that extra rep or bump my speed up a few notches.” Other boutique studios encourage you to compete against others in the class, but OTF is all about competing against yourself.
The target is to maintain a target zone that stimulated metabolism and increases energy. If participants spend at least 12 minutes in the orange and red zones per class, their body will continue burning calories for up to 36 hours after the class has ended. This number easily tracked during class by SPLAT points and is usually achieved during the treadmill portion of the workout.
The studio is kept in pristine condition. They have cubbies to store your belongings, two restrooms and two shower rooms (but keep in mind they do not supply towels). The gym has 12 treadmills, 12 rowing machines, 12 suspension unit systems and free weights.
The First Class
I arrived 30 minutes early for my first complimentary OTF class to complete a fitness questionnaire so the staff can assist in assessing what package is the best option for my schedule and fitness goals. Coach Joey then gave me a private introduction to the studio and equipment. Before the class started, everyone gathered in the entryway and Coach Joey have us a brief overview of the workout ahead of us. We then headed to our respective treadmills and weight stations.
I started on the treadmill and we did a warm up jog followed by a 10 minute run in which we were trying to clock any distance over one mile. We then took our pace down to a jog. Next we halved the time to a five-minute run and tried to reach half of the distance with incline added. After another jog, we halved the time and distance one final time before we finished up the cardio portion of our workout.
“Other boutique studios encourage you to compete against others in the class, but OTF is all about competing against yourself.”
With the cardio behind me, I took my place at the rowing machine where Coach Joey instructed us to row as far as we could in one minute. We then made our way to the floor for strength training. We did two rounds of three different weight exercises for the remainder of the class, hitting every muscle group (including ones that I didn’t know existed!).
Throughout the class I was constantly checking my real-time data on the screens to check my zone amount of SPLAT points. I struggled with my form on a few of the weight exercises and my classmates and Coach Joey chimed in with unprompted advice. As an athlete, I enjoyed this class because although I was being competitive with myself in terms of zones and SPLAT points, the class had a great community feel.
When the 60 minutes was over, Coach Joey led a quick stretching session for everyone, then took the time to walk me through my results. I then sat down with the front desk employee to discuss packages that might work best for me.
After the class, I spoke with some frequent flyers at OTF. “Before OTF, I was barely able to keep up a decent jog for more than a few minutes,” stated Rachel Kuiper, “since joining OTF, I’ve advanced from a power walker, to a jogger, to a runner. I was able to complete my first 10k in an hour and actually enjoy it!”
Flexible Cost & Membership Options
Great workouts come at a cost. If you look at other boutique fitness studios, classes can be north of $35 with no real membership option.
At OTF Emeryville you can pay for individual classes, or get a package which resembles a membership. Their aim is not to stick you with a longterm commitment that you aren’t going to use, “We want to tailor an experience to your lifestyle,” explains Vorsatz, “and we have a lot of confidence in the product we deliver.” But if you want to see a real difference in body composition, you should do the OTF workout three times per week.
On a monthly basis the Orange “Basic” membership includes 4 sessions, the Orange “Elite” includes 8 sessions, and the Orange “Premier” is unlimited. Depending on your package, classes come out to about $16 to $19 each, which Vorsatz compared to $90 for a personal training session. Just remember that OTF has an eight-hour cancellation policy.
They also offer corporate memberships for your office. You can bring your team out for a workout, or your company can pay for a certain amount of classes per month.
OTF Emeryville is a great solution for someone who is looking for a fitness routine they can easily add into their daily lives. With 3 – 8 classes scheduled per day it can work with almost any schedule. And yet they focus on variety within the workout so you don’t get bored doing the same workout again and again. My conclusion — take advantage of their free week of classes in August to check out this workout for yourselves! Just don’t forget to bring a water bottle, fitness towel, and shower towel.