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Mar 31, 2017 09:40AM

Orange is the new fit: New fitness center uses color to help monitor workouts

By Chris Cashion
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Orangetheory Fitness is slated to open at 4520 E. 53rd St., Davenport, in April. Orangetheory routines utilize treadmills, rowing machines, weights and body-weight exercises for heart-rate based interval training sessions.
If orange really is the new black, as the Netflix show suggests, then the workouts offered by Orangetheory Fitness in Davenport might be a new classic for fitness enthusiasts.

Orangetheory Fitness, or OTF as its participants refer to it, has been popular in Florida and on the coasts for a while now, but it quickly has been sliding its way into the middle of the country. A Davenport location — owned by Nikki Bean, of LeClaire, and Pam Carter, of Blue Grass — is slated to open this month.

Bean says the decision to bring OTF to the Quad-Cities began after experiencing it in Florida.

"Living in Florida and owning a traditional 20,000-square-foot gym, my husband and I found ourselves 'sneaking out' to the OTF up the street for our workouts three to four times per week," Bean says.

"I was born and raised in the Davenport area, and when my husband and I decided to move back to the Quad-Cities, we knew OTF was something the Quad-City area needed. We knew that we wanted to do something in the Quad-Cities to promote a healthy community, but we wanted to make sure it was something this area had never experienced."

Studio manager Erin Vargas, of LeClaire, describes the Orangetheory workout as "the best one-hour workout, which combines strength and endurance, plus group and personal training."

Vargas says OTF is the brainchild of Ellen Latham, of Florida. With a background in fitness, Latham developed her idea of the ultimate workout, which became the basis for Orangetheory Fitness.

The first OTF studio opened in 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Now, more than 1,000 OTF franchise licenses have been purchased, and more than 500 studios are operating worldwide.

The key to the workout is the science behind excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or your body's ability to burn calories after you've finished your workout.

"You may be done training for the day, but you're burning those calories for the next 24 (to) 36 hours," Vargas says.

That calorie burn is in addition to the estimated 500 to 1,000 calories burned during a one-hour OTF workout, she says.

Vargas says the workout itself changes every day, but its uniform across all of the OTF studios.

"If you're doing a workout on a Tuesday in Davenport, your sister in Arizona is doing the same workout on that Tuesday, and the two of you can talk about it later," she says.

Orangetheory routines utilize treadmills, rowing machines, weights and body-weight exercises for the heart-rate based interval training sessions.

"It's a lot of variety. You'll be on the treadmill for eight minutes, then down to the floor, then on the rower— you'll never get bored," she says.

The workouts have required a lot of planning, Vargas says.

"A team of people come up with the exercises, who then pass them on to doctors to make sure they are safe. It's all based on science," she says.

Participants wear heart rate monitors so they may gauge their work, and so their coach may keep tabs on it, too. The goal is to work out in the target heart rate range. Heart rate levels appear by color, and when it is in the orange zone, the participant and their coach know they are working out at the correct intensity.

"Being in that target zone means you are stimulating metabolism and increasing energy," Vargas says.

Another aspect Vargas says sets OTF apart from other fitness classes is that the coaches do not work out during the class. Instead, they are focused on their students.

"All of our coaches are certified personal trainers who are also certified by Orangetheory. They take what they do very seriously," she says. Throughout the workouts, "they are checking your form and making sure you are working out at the correct heart rate."

Vargas says coaches will show students how moves should be performed, and that proper form also is demonstrated on television screens for students to see.

Vargas says class sizes are small — up to 24 students — and workouts are adapted for individual fitness levels.

She says that modifications, variety and knowledgeable coaches make the classes a perfect fit for people of all fitness levels.

"If you're a couch potato, you get the base workout for you because of the heart rate monitor. The trainers make modifications for you, and because it combines strength and endurance, it's the perfect supplement for whatever form of fitness you already do," she says. "Everyone can benefit because we tailor it to fit you."

Vargas says everyone at OTF "is very supportive, And the pace and the music keep you going."

Bean says she enjoys OTF because she gets bored doing the same workout every day. It's "why I fell in love with these workouts," she says. "I have never done the same workout twice, and the hour goes by so fast. I love that every time I work out, I am wearing a heart rate monitor, so I know exactly where my sweet spot for burning calories is."

The key to a good fitness program is to keep it sustainable, and for Bean, that's no problem.

"I am always ready to come back for more," she says.

OTF offers a variety of membership packages, and all participants must purchase a heart rate monitor from Orangetheory. Find Orangetheory at 4520 E. 53rd St., Davenport. For more information, visit
orangetheoryfitness.com, or search for Orangetheory Fitness Davenport on Facebook.
Chris Cashion is a writer on staff with Radish.

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