This is a pretty big departure from the signature Orangetheory class, Orange 60, which has students cycle through blocks on the rower, the treadmill (or other cardio machine), and on the floor for functional resistance training. Every student wears a heart rate monitor, and the goal is to spend an optimized amount of time in different heart rate zones.
- Scott Brown, vice president of fitness for Orangetheory Fitness
Rather than focusing on heart rate zones, Strength 50 teaches strength fundamentals so that students can tackle the floor portion of Orange 60 classes with confidence.
“The main difference is that it’s highly focused on that one element versus the three elements that we have in a normal class,” says Scott Brown, Orangetheory’s vice president of fitness. “There's the ability for the member to focus on that thing because they're not worried about what's coming up next on the treadmill or having to move around the room.”
Orangetheory is just the latest boutique fitness studio to home in on strength training. Earlier this year, both Pure Barre and CorePower Yoga started branching out from barre and yoga (respectively) to offer classes that use heavier weights. Online platforms such as Alo Moves and Obé have also expanded their focus on strength training.
Brown says insights from booking platform Classpass that strength training was the most booked class type in 2022, as well as feedback from their own members, spurred Orangetheory to try the new class type. When it launched in a limited beta earlier this year, the class quickly garnered a 10,000-person wait list.
“I think the main thing is it's a maturing of the industry, a maturing of the literature, and then all of that starting to proliferate [from coaches to students]” says Brown of strength training’s growing popularity. “What strength training delivers from a results standpoint, from a physiological standpoint, from a psychological standpoint, those benefits have been known for a long time, but our ability to clearly express and communicate that to people, and again, debunk myths and get people aware of that, has grown.”
Brown says that’s especially true for women, who for so long were told to focus on “tightening and toning,” as Brown puts it. That’s not the case anymore, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque bodybuilder physique of the 80s and 90s is no longer the dominant image associated with building strength.
Although weight rooms in traditional gyms have also been seeing more action lately, approaching strength through group fitness helps to make it a less isolated, more approachable endeavor, Brown says. Strength 50 classes are designed to be balanced, whole-body workouts, which can take some time to develop on your own if you're new to strength training. Because these classes will all be focused on one modality, rather than having different groups rotate through three different workouts at the same time, Orangetheory coaches will be able to give more attention to ensuring correct form, and even keep an eye on the heart rate monitors to see how different moves are taxing their students.
Overall, Brown sees Strength 50 as a “supplement” to the “multivitamin” of Orange 60.
“When you're confident in your form, everything becomes easier.” Brown says.
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