Power Up

above: A coach welcomes a group to class. The full-body workouts are flexible enough to appeal to fitness newbies and experienced athletes. – Photogarph contributed by Orangetheory Fitness

If you’re constantly running around trying to knock things off your to-do list in November and December, I have some advice: Put yourself first by hitting the gym. One place to consider is OrangeTheory Fitness, a national studio that fits right in at its latest location at High Ridge Shopping Center. Circle the parking lot once or twice and drop in for a class, where you’ll bring your power, strength and endurance to the next level—into the orange. Let me explain…

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What’s it really like at an OTF class

I put off holiday planning, including gift and food shopping, until the last moment. The only thing I actually plan on is to find myself running all over town as the celebrations near. I’d love to have to-do list slaying count as workouts, but I know better. Dropping into stores may boost my heart rate, but not like a class at OrangeTheory Fitness (orangetheoryfitness.com) does.

Locations are nationwide; Stamford got its first this past June. One recent quiet Sunday morning, I am first in line. Truth be told, I am so amped to take the class, I show up a whole session early and have to cool my heels by shopping at the nearby stores for an hour. Poor me.

Once I return, I am warmly greeted by reception as if nothing awkward just happened. I stow my gear in a cubby, check in on the iPad and strap on my heartrate monitor. That last one’s important because the fitness program is based on tracking each participant’s heart rate throughout class. The immediate feedback is displayed on big screens so you can see easily if you’re pushing or slacking.

Each class cycles through three stations: Group 1 starts on rowing machines; Group 2 on treadmills; Group 3 in the weight station (hand weights, benches, bands, TR-X, not those massive weight machines or barbells).

Coach Jonathan welcomes us and gives a quick overview of what we’ll be doing: a partner class. I get paired with Rachel— as I run, she rows and does floor work; when she’s done, we switch; when I finish, we switch again. The music goes up, the lights go down, and we work for ourselves and to free our partner from her grueling station. I also get a kick out of Jennifer, who is killing it on a nearby rowing machine while cheering on her partner. Inspired indirectly, I dig deeper.

I leave the session so sweaty, I have to shower. With only two stalls, I am impressed with someone’s clever idea to tuck away a station for hair and makeup outside the shower rooms. Keep things moving, people.

OTF classes have a mix of men and women, ages and fitness levels. Workouts change daily—a creative mashup of the three stations with new moves and combos. During a workout, I don’t want to think; I want a coach to tell me what to do, and I’m happy to dump the motivation work onto him or her. Without a coach, I’d skip weights. That, plus the variety and the heart rate feedback add up to a workout that’s keeps me up to the challenge of running holiday errands.

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