Sign In


[Self Help]: A Sneak Peek at Orangetheory Fitness: The First of Many

SmSh got the chance to check out the fitness franchise that’s about to take China by storm and chat with Mike Wilder, head coach of the Shanghai flagship.
2017-11-30 17:44:29

The Orangetheory wave has reached Shanghai's shores, with their flagship set to open just in time for New Year's resolutions. This is the American HIIT (high intensity interval training) franchise that's spread like crazy over the last couple years, named the best one-hour work out of 2016 by The New York Times, and is the official sweat-spot of the Yankees. Founded in 2010, Orangetheory was one of the pioneers in the whole monitor-your-heart-rate-as-you-work-out thing; their unique feature being that in each class, you strap on a device to monitor your pulse and try to keep your heart rate in the "orange" zone for optimal calorie burning (yes, some other places do this too, but it was like their thing).

Here's a first ever-so exclusive look at their new digs as well as an idea of what to expect from the gym's head coach, Mike Wilder. Wilder's a California native who's been kicking it in Shanghai since 2011 as a Nutrition and Fitness Coach. We got him to give us the spiel and walk us through their program.


orangetheorylobby orangetheoryweightroom

Our First Impressions: A boutique fitness studio with a fervent dedication to the color orange. Orange walls, orange lights, orange showers. Orange! On the 3rd floor of the small American colony on Maoming Bei Lu (close to neighbors White Castle and Goose Island), it's a great big space, made to look even larger with lots of windows. Everything is clean and new, and there're lots of shiny gizmos and gadgets. (Nice feature: a screen showing air quality inside and out and a reverse-osmosis water filter that emails someone when the filter needs to be changed). The studio itself is a little dark with the orange lights, but overall it's nice.


The Theory

"The focus is on High Intensity Intervals, so it could be cardiovascular intervals or strength training intervals. Every workout, we combine some form of cardiovascular or strength intervals to maintain 84% of your maximum heart rate."


Here's Mike explaining something about heart rates--typical Mike!

"We’re a 5 zone heart rate based interval training program, Zones 1 and 2 are low; Zones 3, 4, 5 are where we focus. Zone 3 is around 70% of your max heart rate, it's color coded in green and called 'the base pace.' Zone 4 is the orange zone called 'the push pace,' it’s 84-92%, and zone 5 is all-out sprinting. You can’t stay there very long, that's the red zone. We go up and down throughout the hour, but really focus on the orange to red zone, if you can stay there at least 12 minutes within the session, you’ll experience an afterburn, EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)—this basically means if you push your body into those high zones, then after that workout, up to a day and a half later, your body’s still burning calories and this increases your metabolism. This is where the benefits come and our members see noticeable changes faster than they’ve seen before."


"On the screens above the treadmills, it’ll show each member's name in alphabetical order, with their maximum heart rate percentages, so it’s personalized, even if you have your grandma with you and a professional athlete right next to her they are not competing with each other, they are competing with their own heart rate."


You can keep track of your heart rate during the class, with one of three monitors (you choose): there's one for your wrist, your arm, or your chest. You purchase the devices through Orange Theory and wear them at each session (first class they'll lend you one). The information from the heart monitor will be shown on screens in the gym and color coded from green to orange to red. The results from each workout (heart rate, calories burned, etc.) are automatically emailed after each session.

The Workout

"In our classes, we have a maximum of 24 members at a time. We split the class in two between 12 water rowers and 12 treadmills, so we do cardiovascular and strength training intervals, with a variety of equipment. These treadmills are designed to be low-impact [Ed's Note: they're bouncy], but we also have a bike and a Strider machine for people with knee or orthopedic injuries."


"After a quick warm up, the rowing group will typically move over to the weight floor (also has 12 stations) and on this screen over here is the video visual aid, displaying the exercises you’re working on (the coach will also do a 90 second demo). All of the numbers and reps are up there for reference. We've got adjustable benches, TRX straps, free weights, medicine balls, every day is different. In the meantime, the other group of 12 is still on the treadmills—not sprinting, they’re coming down into the base pace (green) or push pace (orange) or, on a power day, they’ll be going from base pace to all-out (the red zone). This for about 27 minutes then switch, in all, an hour workout with a 5 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down. We focus on three main areas: endurance, strength, and power—then on some days we’ll combine all three for an ESP day."

"People are going to the studio to see results, I think most people want to change the way they feel and look, and have more energy. If you put in that work for 50 minutes, Orangetheory delivers."

Also...check out these locker rooms, daaaaang!

orangetheorylockerroom1 orangetheorylockerroom2

Orangetheory Fitness

3/F, 245 Maoming Bei Lu, near... View ListingTaxi Printout

The opening date for founding members is set for December 8, they'll get the gym to themselves for two weeks (included in the price of first month of membership), then it'll open to everyone on December 22. You too can be a founding member, rates before official opening are as follows: 1,600rmb for unlimited classes, 1,300rmb a month for 8 classes, or 600rmb for 4 classes if bought through the Dianping app.

After the grand opening, you can try the gym with a free trial class and membership prices will go up to 1,788rmb, 1,488rmb, and 788rmb respectively. Alternatively, there are class bundles: 10 classes 1,988rmb (expires in 6 months), 20 classes 3,788rmb (expires in 1 year), and 30 classes 5,388rmb (1 year).

There'll be four to five trainers to start with, the class schedule is TBA but it'll have around 30-35 classes per week; with options before and after work, and some at lunch.

Stay tuned!