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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

As I walked into my Orangetheory class last week I saw my name on the “Brag Board.” It read, “Congratulations on 75 classes Francesca!’ 75 classes? I was honestly surprised. I hadn’t really been counting how many times I had been. But 75? That really did feel like an accomplishment. 

I’ve never really been a “sporty” person. In high school, I was always too busy with music or theater commitments to reserve any time for team sports. Because of this, I always thought I wouldn’t be very good. That I would never be the “gym girl” or someone who enjoyed physical activity that much. In fact, when I heard people say things like, “I can’t wait to go to the gym,” I thought they were crazy. 

When I arrived at college, however, I made an effort not to over-commit myself straight away to similar activities that I engaged in during high school. Therefore, last October, a friend and I decided to sign up for a free Orangetheory class. It was super easy. All you needed to do was register online, show proof of residency in the local area, and show up half an hour before class. I was extremely nervous the first time, but the coaches were beyond accommodating. 

On the day of the first session, there was a welcome sign with both of our names on it, immediately making us feel special. After being asked what our athletic history and goals were by the front desk members, we were introduced to coach Natalya. Natalya walked us around the studio, explaining everything in great detail so we would not be confused. She explained that we would be given a heart rate monitor. This heart rate monitor detects when your heart rate increases through the five zones.

Gray Zone 1: “Very Light Activity, 50-60% of Max HR”

This is the least strenuous, most comfortable zone, consisting of very light activity.

Blue Zone 2: “Warm Up, 61-70% of Max HR”

This zone is specifically geared for warm-up and cool-down exercises. You are preparing your body and mind for high-intensity interval training, but you haven’t unleashed the burn just yet.

Green Zone 3: “Challenging-Doable, 71-83% of Max HR”

 In this zone, you have reached a challenging but doable pace. This is what Orangetheory categorizes as “Base Pace,” a pace you can maintain for 20-30 total minutes. Your body starts to burn fat and carbohydrates evenly.

Orange Zone 4: “Orange Effect, Uncomfortable 84-91% of Max HR”

This is where the magic happens and where you achieve “EPOC” (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption)—what they call the “Orange Effect / Afterburn.” 

Red Zone 5: “All Out Effort! 92-100% of Max HR”

This zone happens organically and may be achieved during “All Out” efforts when you’re emptying the tank and using every ounce of energy left in your body. You don’t need to set an All Out pace for more than 1 minute at a time to experience maximum results.

The goal is “to accumulate 12 minutes or more in this zone within a 60-minute period to achieve the maximum caloric burn for up to 36 hours AFTER your workout is completed,” in the orange zone, hence Orangetheory. 

From my first session, I knew that it wouldn’t be like any other fitness classes I had taken before. This is because it is entirely (and scientifically!) catered to you. It is not about how fast you are running, how heavy you are lifting, or the number of watts you’re rowing, but just doing whatever it takes to get you into that “Orange Zone.”

At my 75-day check-in, I can honestly see a difference. Yes, I have lost a little bit of weight, but that was not my goal. Instead, I have seen the amount I am able to lift has doubled! That I am able to push myself further during the cardio segments, and my heart rate has been much lower (increasing my overall fitness)! 

For me, it was a fantastic way to get into fitness. And now I really am the girl who “isn’t herself without her workout” (I know … bleugh). But it really is true. I want to get up and push myself. The coaches make an effort to form a real relationship with you and the more you go the more you feel a part of the community, saying “hi” to familiar faces and wanting to do group challenges and partner workouts (again, something I would have never dreamed of saying).

Orangetheory honestly has changed my outlook on myself and on being active as a whole. I have so much more energy, I feel more confident, and it’s great to have a separate goal outside of college. The people, the music, the atmosphere, and the attainable goals, make it the perfect starting block for YOUR fitness journey. In no time (I’m sure) you’ll be just as addicted as I am!

Hi, my name is Francesca, I am a third year at UCSB studying Film and Media Studies. Originally from England moved to California for college, I have a passion for writing, storytelling and people's passion.