Confessions Of A Former Fitness Flake

Accountability has always been my biggest hurdle when it comes to exercise. I wish I was the type of person who’s self-motivated and can work out alone, but that’s just not who I am.

I was a competitive lacrosse player from childhood through college, but I was never able to stay consistent in my training when I had to do it alone. Every season, I would show up out of shape and then get injured when the intense practices started.

“I kept trying different ways to work out, but I couldn’t stick to anything.”

Once I left college, staying committed to exercise became even more difficult. I had always thrived off of the group dynamic I felt when working out with my teammates. Now that I was no longer on a team, I was always thinking: What do I do now? I want to be fit, but I can’t hold myself accountable for the life of me.

I kept trying different ways to work out, but I couldn’t stick to anything. I did long-distance hiking for a month and thought that would be my thing, but realized it was impractical due to the time investment and the fact that I live in a big city. I got into rock climbing—even bought all the fancy equipment—then quit after a couple of months when my friends stopped going. I tried getting into running, but I found it really difficult to pace myself when running outdoors. I decided I wanted to do fitness classes, so I tried dance cardio and yoga, but I didn’t really like those either.

It was a frustrating cycle: I would start something new, do it for a little while, then get lazy and sit around feeling guilty for not exercising.

I needed something I could do with a group of people instead of trying to exercise on my own. I missed the workouts I used to do with my lacrosse team—a lot of interval training and core exercises—and I missed how competitive they were. Luckily, right when I was about to give up, I found Orangetheory Fitness.

Discovering The Right Fitness Class

My girlfriend and I had just moved to a new neighborhood and wanted to start working out again, so we were shopping for a gym. There was an Orangetheory down the street where she tried a class and loved it immediately. She’s also a former competitive athlete—a figure skater and rower—and has struggled the same way I have with not having the structure of a team.


After she went to Orangetheory a couple of times and raved, I decided to try it out. The first class was definitely tough, but I was able to personalize my weights, speed, and intensity to make it just as hard as I could handle without overdoing it. It was clear to me right away that this was different from all the other classes I had tried. For example, in my first dance cardio class, I didn’t know any of the moves and felt like everyone was staring at me and judging every mistake I made. Here, I didn’t feel like anyone knew or cared that it was my first time. At Orangetheory, exercises like running, squats, and other basic resistance-training exercises were things I had done before, so I felt confident in what I was doing.

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Mitchell has found the motivating team atmosphere in Orangetheory that she thrived on as a college athlete.

Tate Mitchell

That was eight months ago, and I’ve been going to Orangetheory three to five days a week ever since—I’m closing in on 100 classes. The fact that I’m exercising five days a week for an hour each time is a big deal for me. I didn’t know it was possible for me to be that committed. The heart rate-based interval training, technology that tells me in real-time where my intensity needs to be, and, of course, the results have made Orangetheory a routine I plan to stick to long term. The workouts are still hard, but in the best way possible. I’m still pushing myself, so it’s never easy. I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been, and I absolutely love it.

Running, Rowing, And Lifting My Way To Better Fitness

Orangetheory workouts can be done in three components—rowing, interval cardio, and strength training—in whichever order you chose. Rowing was the toughest for me, since it takes specific skills. But with the help of an Orangetheory coach I was able to learn the proper way to do it and now it’s a really fun workout.

Every Orangetheory class is designed with treadmill, rower, and resistance training to drive results in cardiovascular health, VO2 max, strength, and flexibility.

The treadmill portion is my favorite. I was so out of shape when I started at Orangetheory that my goal was simply to be able to jog at the slowest possible pace for the entire time. Now I’m full-on running for the entire 14-24-minute block. Running speed varies from “base” to “push” to “all-out” as instructed by a coach. For someone who struggles with keeping my own pace when running, the ability to just do what the coach says and shut off my brain has been life-changing; I’m planning on running my first 5K in a few months.

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Orangetheory treadmill intervals have helped Mitchell boost her endurance and prepare for her first 5K race.

Tate Mitchell

The strength portion of the workout is great because it changes from day to day. One workout you’re targeting your arms or legs, another day you’re jumping across the floor with all your might while the coach yells, “Remember the floor is lava!,” and the next you’re doing core circuits and your abs are burning.

Since joining Orangetheory I’ve noticed such a difference in my body. I purposely don’t own a scale because I don’t want to focus on that number, but I know for a fact that I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’ve discovered muscles I didn’t even know existed—hello, deltoids!—and my biceps are looking stronger every day. I can run up steps without getting winded and I just generally feel better.

Getting Into My Zone

What really separates Orangetheory from other workouts I’ve tried is the heart rate zone setup. Seeing my heart rate zones in front of me has pushed me to not only be able to run further for longer, but to do it consistently and confidently.

Orangetheory is a science-backed, heart rate-based interval workout that tracks each member’s performance in every class utilizing the following five heart zones. The goal is to accumulate 12 minutes or more in the orange zone within each 60-minute workout to achieve maximum caloric burn.

When I’m on the rower or treadmill, I rely heavily on knowing which of the five colored zones I’m in—gray, blue, green, orange, or red—to tell me how hard to go. If it were up to me, I would take a break the second it gets hard and wait until I feel fully rested to push again, but that’s not a good way to gain strength and endurance. With this system, I watch my heart rate decrease, and once it gets into the lower range of the Orange Zone, I get going again. I can rely on the numbers to tell me that my body is ready to keep pushing, even if my brain isn’t ready yet.

I never expected to be in such great cardiovascular shape. My heart and lungs are so much more resilient than they’ve ever been. I’m not just strong—I’m truly fit! Every time I notice this newfound heart health I just think of my 80-year-old self. I’m really doing this for her and investing in my lifelong health.

Feeling Right At Home

A fitness class is only as good as the people in it, and that’s another thing that makes Orangetheory so great. The coaches are amazing. You can tell they’re excited to be there and work hard with us. I’ve found the same kind of team atmosphere through Orangetheory that I once got from playing lacrosse. It’s motivating to work out as part of a group again. When you’re getting tired and you’re about to give up, you look around and realize that the people around you are pushing forward, and you think: “if they’re not giving up, I’m not going to give up.” It’s really empowering.

“I feel at home in my gym, at home in my new neighborhood, and at home in my body again.”

I didn’t think I could ever be an athlete again because I was missing the structure and accountability that I used to have, but now I’ve found the gym I need. Orangetheory has turned into more than just a place where I go to exercise. It’s a community. I pass coaches and fellow members all the time when I’m walking down the street. I feel at home in my gym, at home in my new neighborhood, and at home in my body again.

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