When I got engaged, I was excited to begin the traditional wedding planning process: finding a photographer, trying on dresses, selecting my bridesmaids, and, of course, the food and wine tasting (the best part!). But I was also dreading the pressure to lose weight and get in shape for my big day. My weight has fluctuated my entire life, and the idea of being unhappy with how I looked in my wedding photos, which will be around forever, gave me huge anxiety.
For me, it wasn't even about losing weight before my wedding — I didn't even step on the scale for the six months before my big day — but I did want to feel good, have more energy, and feel more confident in a sleeveless gown. While I was eating relatively well and exercising frequently, I knew I wanted to kick my fitness routine up a notch and find something I could stick to. So for the five months before my wedding, I joined Orangetheory Fitness (OTF). After previously attending a few classes here and there, I bit the bullet and signed up for an eight-classes-a-month membership at the Chelsea location in New York City. Here's why I chose OTF over other fitness plans to whip me into shape.
It's a Welcoming Environment
In New York, boutique fitness classes can be intimidating and cult-like. It's hard to try something new when the clientele are all supertoned, snobby, and literal models. To make matters worse, some of these workouts are taught by instructors who are more like drill sergeants than motivating coaches. Luckily, I didn't have that experience at Orangetheory.
The front desk staff was friendly and welcoming, and the instructors were positive and motivating. I even felt more comfortable around my fellow gym-goers; there was always a range of body types in each class, and every one was in a different place in his or her fitness journey. It made the workouts much more enjoyable once I got to know some of the regulars and could end each class with a smile and an encouraging high five. Plus, orange is my favorite color so the bright orange and white spaces just feel more inviting.
It Increased My Endurance
Before joining Orangetheory, running was my cardio of choice. I would usually start my gym sessions with 20-30 minutes on the treadmill, then hit the weight room. However, if I'm being honest with myself, I never really pushed myself with my running. I would always jog at a steady pace, never increasing the incline or speed. At Orangetheory, half of the class is a combination of running and rowing, and the other half is in the weight room. For the running portion, you constantly increase your speed and climb up on various inclines. After weeks of pushing myself past my comfort zone for my "push pace" and "all-out pace," I noticed my endurance increasing. I could run at faster speeds and handle tougher inclines, all with much more ease than I was able to previously. By the end of five months, I noticed a remarkable improvement from where I started.
I Got Comfortable Lifting Heavier Weights
I used to work out with a personal trainer, so I was familiar with lifting weights. I always incorporated strength training at least a few days into my normal gym routine. But I tended to stick to the eight- and 10-pound free weights and didn't often increase the amount I was lifting. At Orangetheory, however, instructors encouraged you to pick up something heavier. Before long, I was reaching for those 12- and 15-pound dumbbells and felt myself getting stronger each week. I even did some reps with 20-pounders, a feat I previously thought was impossible.
It Introduced New Workouts to My Routine
As I mentioned before, my gym routine was pretty basic and, frankly, getting stale. I returned to the same old treadmill workout and the same few arm, leg, and ab exercises. After taking a few classes at Orangetheory, however, I learned a few more moves I could incorporate into my solo gym sessions, since I was only doing OTF twice a week. I started incorporating more arm moves with dumbbells, exercises on the TRX, and ab workouts with disc sliders. I even upped my treadmill game and tried to mimic the format of an OTF treadmill workout, adding in sprints, increasing incline, and running at various speeds.
There Are Locations Everywhere
One of the biggest perks of being an OTF member is that there are locations everywhere. It's one of the fastest growing boutique fitness classes with hundreds of locations across the globe. Since I was getting married in my hometown of St. Louis, I knew I would be back and forth a lot through the planning process. Orangetheory has several locations in the St. Louis area, and I was familiar with the studios there; my sister had been a member for more than a year — she's actually the one who introduced me to the workout! — so it was a nice bonus being able to work out with her when I was in town. There's also a location in Charleston, SC, where I had my bachelorette party; basically anywhere I traveled, I knew I could find an OTF location nearby.
It's (Somewhat) Affordable
Since I was a home member at a New York City location, the fees were at a premium rate compared to other locations. It was $229 a month for eight classes, or about $29 a class. Other boutique classes in New York charge upwards of $35-$40 for a single session, and some similar studios offer unlimited packages for close to $500. Although $229 is a lot to pay on top of my regular gym membership, it was cheaper than hiring a personal trainer, which was another option I was considering in the months leading up to my wedding.
I Actually Saw Results
One of my biggest fears before my wedding day — besides someone tripping and spilling red wine all over my white dress — was that I would have worked hard for months before my big day and still not be happy with the results. After five months of regular Orangetheory workouts, I went down a dress size and saw more definition in my arms. Sure, I still struggle with body image issues and that didn't magically go away once I slipped on my dress and walked down the aisle, but I definitely felt more confident on my big day and wasn't afraid of the camera.
Although I'm no longer a member (for financial reasons), I still go back to Orangetheory about once a month or so, and always feel accomplished when I walk out of the studio.