In A Heartbeat

Heart Rate Monitor

Your member spends 30 minutes jogging on the treadmill. Afterward, she feels like she got a pretty good workout; she broke a sweat and her legs are tired. But how hard did she really work?

With new developments in technology there are very precise ways to measure exertion during a workout, beyond how your member feels. One of the best ways to do so is through heart rate monitoring systems, and many health clubs are beginning to incorporate the technology into their offerings.

A leader in this forefront is Orangetheory Fitness. The franchise has made heart rate monitoring an essential component to its high intensity interval training workouts, consisting of treadmill intervals, rowing, functional training with free weights, core strength training and stretching.

Before each new client begins class, he or she is fitted with a heart rate monitor and put into the Orangetheory system. This way, throughout the workout, their heart rate will appear on a flat-screen TV.

“The ‘orange theory’ is to spend 12 to 20 minutes in the orange and red zones, which are high intensity zones,” explained Mike Singer, an Orangetheory Fitness franchisee. “Orange is about 85 percent and red is about 92 percent. That is what causes EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) training, which is going to elevate your metabolism for 24 to 36 hours after the workout.”

Based on the theory of EPOC, spending the prescribed amount of time in these high intensity zones helps promote weight loss and increase lean muscle mass. After every class, a workout summary for every participant is displayed on the TV and emailed to each client. Members are able to decipher, based on their heart rate, how much time they spent in each zone.

“The heart rate monitor is kind of like a speedometer in your car,” added Singer. “It gives you the ability to gauge your exertion. We base the percentage of exertion off each client’s age-adjusted maximum heart rate, so that everyone is basically on the same playing field.”

According to Singer, the heart rate monitoring technology helps differentiate Orangetheory Fitness from other fitness brands. “There are other forms of fitness that try to do similar things, and what really separates Orangetheory is that we have that heart rate monitoring system,” said Singer. “It is a scientific approach. The customers find it to be a tremendous help and in many cases, it is the reason they are coming to Orangetheory.”

However, Singer stressed not relying too much on the technology. Behind the heart rate monitoring system must be a strong foundation. “We try not to make too much of it, in the sense that it is not the only thing that is amazing about this workout,” he explained. “It is just one of the many tools we use to bring people through these intervals. It is an enhancement to the interval training process.”

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