Heather Klemm and her husband Stephan were devoted members of their local Orangetheory Fitness in Newport Beach, California for about a year and half when they decided to bring their own outpost of the national brand to the Portland area. "We had tried many forms of fitness," shares Klemm, "but nothing was quite as motivating and we loved the fact that the hour flew by and you got an amazing workout." Orangetheory Fitness, founded in Florida in 2009, combines treadmill intervals, WaterRowers, free weights and TRX straps to craft hour-long workouts that keep fitness fans' hearts beating while their brain keeps guessing what's next. The brand has over 300 locations around the world, but the just-opened Tigard location is the first to bring the orange glow to Oregon. 

Sure, it sounds like plenty of cross-training fitness studios around the country, but what sets Orangetheory Fitness apart is the use of personal heart rate monitors strapped around each client's chest, delivering live feedback on screens around the gym. "Our one-hour, total-body workouts utilize heart rate monitors so members can track their progress real time, which is very motivating and means that all fitness levels can participate in the same class." The goal: monitoring your personal max heart rate—as calibrated by your age, height, and weight—to maximize “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” aka the afterburn effect that boosts your metabolism up to 36 hours after a workout. To get there, the studio's trainers lead the large classes through intervals that aim to produce 12 to 20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate, leading to an average calorie burn of 500 to 1000 calories an hour—and that sweet, sweet EPOC that keeps your body working more efficiently for days.

I tried out the sweaty, sweaty workout myself, and can certainly say the heart rate monitor upped the competition factor—which I imagine could be super fun or intimidating, depending on your fitness level. The water-filled rowing machines are a cool feature, the music is pulsing, each class draws a wide variety of body types, ages, and activity levels, and the gym offers a stationary bike and elliptical machine for clients looking for a lower-impact workout for the treadmill portion. The class was huge, but the trainer did an admirable job keeping everyone motivated and clued in to the moves—though total newbies to strength training might not get enough personalized attention to perfect their form. The takeaway? I had a blast and would definitely head to OTF again, but would advise anyone brand-new to working out to check with the owners to find a class that isn't booked solid to get some more focused instruction.

One thing's for sure—the passion of the owners and regulars for the efficacy of the workout is clear.

"We want to help our members achieve all their fitness goals by creating a fun, accepting environment where they feel like part of our family," shares Klemm. "Fitness should be fun and something you look forward to and that’s what keeps people motivated and inspired." Want to check out Orangetheory Fitness for yourself? You can sign up for two free sessions on the studio's website. Happy sweating!

Orangetheory Fitness Tigard
12268 SW Scholls Ferry Road

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