By Whitney Findorff, Head Trainer Orangetheory Santa Monica
Heart rate: the speed our heart is pumping, in beats per minute
We hear the term “heart rate” all the time when working out. Our heart rate is defined as the speed our heart is pumping at per minute. It is a numerical marker to know if we are working out at the right level for our body. Target heart rate is the scientific indicator of whether we are working hard enough to get the results we are looking to achieve. It is also a marker of if we are overworking ourselves, and will burn out early in the workout.
At Orangetheory Fitness, we use our clients’ heart rates to monitor the entire workout during class, as well as in the post-class report where clients can track their progress. They are able to pinpoint when in the class they hit their stride and when they were struggling — as well as how many calories they burned, based on their heart rate, height and weight, and age.
The combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and heart rate-based training has been backed by science to deliver guaranteed results when applied regularly. We are already familiar with HIIT training. Complimenting it by wearing a heart rate monitor takes the training experience to the next level by delivering real-time results. The visual display of clients’ heart rates allows the coach to ensure his/her clients are working at the right levels of aerobic and anaerobic zones at the right times, to deliver the best “afterburn” — or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) — one can achieve.
The heart rate monitor acts as a second coach, in the sense that it keeps the client accountable for their effort output. At the same time, it also educates the client how to workout effectively by being able to visually see what their level of output does to their heart rate.
Being able to see your heart rate raise and lower, clients are ever progressing and learning how certain intervals and levels of intensity can directly effect their heart rate. Our coaches educate the clients throughout the workout about what certain levels of intensity are designed to target. For instance, a cardio circuit may include a "2 minute Push followed by 1 minute back at Base." The client is educated that for two minutes, we are applying stress to the body, we are pushing the heart towards the anaerobic zone, their "Orange Zone," to trigger their EPOC. Then we train them to recover at a lower level of active recovery, known as "Base," ultimately to train the heart to recover safely.
Add the element of muscular confusion and we have the full package. Orangetheory Fitness does not repeat workouts. The idea is to forever keep the body guessing and progressing, by not allowing the body to get comfortable with the workout — which can result in a plateau in fitness.
I've committed my career to this type of Heart Rate-Based Interval Training simply because it's in my blood. It mimics the same type of training I used while performing at the highest levels of my sport. This is athlete training. Plain and simple, we are training the inner athlete in everyone. Science aside, having a coach there to run a specifically designed workout to target the fat burn, the caloric burn, lean muscle mass growth, and the afterburn allows the client to never question the program and fully immerse themselves into their 1 hour workout. The group fitness atmosphere intensifies the energy in the room, which makes the clients' experience the ultimate team training type of atmosphere. Your fellow classmates become your teammates, your teammates become your accountability partners — it’s all right there on the heart rate output on the tv screens in the classroom — and that results in a blend of fun, competition, and a whole lot of camaraderie.
I've personally witnessed the best results I have seen in my career with this type of training. On a regular basis we see our clients lose weight, lose inches, add tone to their frame, add lean muscle mass, and increase their cardio, their strength, and their overall health. Many clients who once saw fitness as a burden are now finding that fitness can be fun. Clients are noticing that there is more to fitness then weights and sweat. Using heart rate as a motivator has been the direct link to a more abundant lifestyle.
Whitney Findorff is no stranger to Orangetheory, she has been in the Orangetheory family for over two years. She started her career in Orange County, CA at the Newport Beach and Irvine studios, and is now based full time in Santa Monica, CA.
Due to a high level of competitive drive and achievement, Whitney grew up playing as many sports as possible, but when it was time to pick a sport to seriously focus on, her energy went towards competitive swimming. Getting a late start compared to many swimmers, Whitney spent a year studying and training which paid off as she made it to the National Team within one year of jumping into the pool. Swimming through college, Whitney has earned several All American honors, set national records, and swam on several National level teams against the top international level swimmers.
In the natural pursuit to accomplish the next best thing, Whitney retired from swimming to return to her lifelong equestrian passion for Olympic Show Jumping. Managing and working with the equestrian sports' top level athletes re-sparked her interest in Fitness, Health, and Wellness from her years of swimming, and she decided to reenter the world of fitness as a personal trainer. Orangetheory Fitness was an immediate fit for the former swimmer since the combination of HIIT, water rowing, and circuit training was an exact recipe of training that helped her reach the highest levels of the competitive swimming world, She still manages to get a few horseback riding sessions in as often as she can, because she believes that achieving a fulfilling, healthy and happy life is a balancing act of doing something every day that challenges you, scares you, and makes you smile. The result, the ultimate life.