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One of the hottest fitness trends is HIIT — high intensity interval training. One of the fastest growing fitness boutiques embracing that option is OrangeTheory. I decided to attend a class to find out what the buzz was about and what you need to know before going to a class yourself.

The workout itself involves three different areas of the gym — the treadmills, the water rowers and a strength training area. It is a heart-rate based workout. There are five heart rate zones measured ranging from Zone 1 — very light activity — to Zone 5 — an all out effort. While the majority of your workout should be spent is zone 3 — at 71- 83 percent of your maximum heart rate.

The goal is to spend at least 12 minutes of the workout in Zone 4 or the orange zone — 84-91 percent of your maximum heart rate. The orange zone is uncomfortable but not an all-out effort. The theory behind this is that your body will continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours after the workout by utilizing the body’s excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Since the workout is based on heart rate, you will need one of the companies heart rate monitors. You can borrow one for your first workout, but eventually will be required to purchase one. The system only works with OrangeTheory monitors, so you can’t just bring your own.

As you workout, you see your name and heart rate zone and actual heart rate on a monitor above. Heart rate zones are somewhat individual and are determined by pugging your age, height and weight into their computer.

My workout began on the treadmill. I was instructed to choose a base level. That would be the level that I would come back to after hard efforts. The choices for a base level were: Power Walker 3.5-4.5 mph, Jogger 4.5-5.5 mph, or Runner 5.5 mph-plus. All efforts were done at a 1 percent incline. During the treadmill workout, we were instructed to increase the pace to a “push pace” for 90 seconds. For the joggers and runners in the group, that would be 1-2 mph over your base speed. Power walkers adjusted incline and kept speed within the 3.5-4.5 mph pace.

The last interval is an all out interval. For joggers and runners, that is 2-3 miles per hour over base speed. Fortunately, that interval only lasts 30 seconds. When you choose your base interval speed, remember that you will increase your speed during the push and all out efforts. Choose something that will be challenging, but that you can manage.

After working on the treadmill, we moved over to the water rower. The first interval required 4 minutes of rowing for distance. After rowing, we moved on to strength training. The strength training portion included core work using the Bosu ball, upper body exercises with dumbbells and TRX work. And the cycle began again. at the end of the workout, we stretched and the instructor showed me my heart rate graph. When I arrived home, a record of my workout had been emailed to me.

All in all, I found the workout to be challenging, but doable. Since it was my first time, I was asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to class to fill out paperwork, look at goals, and receive instruction on how to use the equipment. The additional time and instruction was helpful. I left tired, but feeling good. As with any good, new workout, I was a bit sore the next day.

OrangeTheory has two locations in Greenville, one in Spartanburg and one in Greer. For more information or to schedule a workout go to www.orangetheoryfitness.com. The first class is always free.

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