We’ve all dreamt of it—the effortless workout, the machine that does it all, the painless calorie burn as we sleep. And as long as we’re dreaming, how about launching the New Year with a plan to get in shape? Kristi Gess, Minnesota regional head trainer for Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) and a fitness coach at the Plymouth branch, has some thoughts on fitness dreams of all kinds.
For those who aspire to get in shape this winter, consider OTF’s new six-week, statewide weight-loss challenge, she says. With $2,500 in prizes available to the “biggest losers” in both genders, Plymouthites are racing to sign up.
What about that aforementioned calorie burn without effort? Not happening, she says, although Orangetheory clients can benefit from the next best thing: EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. “EPOC is the key to what we do at Orangetheory Fitness,” she says.
Director of the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities School of Kinesiology, Dr. Li Li Ji, says EPOC is caused by oxygen debt. When the demands of an exercise session exceed a person’s oxygen consumption, their body switches to a different way of producing energy—one that does not require oxygen. Then, for a period of time after they have completed their workout, their body will burn oxygen at a greater-than-usual rate to pay back the debt incurred during the workout.
In other words, EPOC produces an increased metabolic rate and increased calorie burn, even after a workout is completed. How many calories and for how long after are good questions, says Ji, and probably vary with a number of factors. This much-desired after-burn effect following an OTF workout can last for 24 to 36 hours. When combined with the energy spent in a typical 60-minute session, total calorie expenditure can range from 500 to 1,000.
What it all means in real life, says Plymouth OTF client Trish Smith, is hard work. Smith, 46, started at the Plymouth OTF branch in March 2015 after spying the words “morbid obesity” on her medical form at a doctor’s office visit for a flu shot. “That was a wake-up call,” she says. “Morbidly obese? Me?” She tried one workout venue and was dissatisfied, but then received an OTF brochure in the mail promising three free workouts. She decided to give it a try. “I wanted to lose weight, get in shape, be happier,” she says.
That first OTF session, she recalls, was brutal. “But I’m not a quitter … I was determined to finish out those three days,” Smith says. She did and signed up for more, averaging three OTF sessions a week and losing 80 pounds by October. Additionally, she reports reduced knee pain and much improved overall fitness. She can shop anywhere now for clothes.
There is a price to pay, of course, for “after-burn.” OTF workouts are strenuous: No more than three one-hour sessions per week are recommended for most people. Smith describes the OTF exercise routine to which she has become accustomed: Everyone puts on a cardiac monitor; participants rotate between the treadmill, rowing machines and weightlifting; trainers shout out instructions as to intensity of exercise demanded at any point (base, push and all-out); “and they give you encouragement, too,” she says. “The first time I got my heart rate up into the orange zone [84 percent of maximum heart rate or higher], I was crying,” Smith says. “I pushed myself. I did it.”
Prices range from $25 for a single class to $159 per month for an unlimited-class membership; check online or call for more details.