The clock hits 6am and a familiar ringing sound begins to rise in volume, ushering me into a groggy consciousness.
I’m tempted to hit snooze and buy myself another hour of sleep, but then I remember that the two hour refund cut-off for my 7am class has passed, and decide that 15 extra minutes of sleep isn’t worth $15 down the drain. As grogginess subsides, I’m thankful for accountability.
I pull up in front of the gym before the sun does and enjoy for a few minutes the comfort of a car filled with warmth and worship music before it’s time to brave my way inside.
30 minutes later, I’m halfway through the workout and plotting my exit strategy.
The trainer has just taken us from a light jog on the treadmill, to a push pace, to a 90 second all-out. Just as she brings us back down to a pace that allows me to catch my breath, it’s back up to a push pace, then this time, a two minute all-out. Then back to base pace for 45 seconds.
“Only a few more rounds, treadmill!” she calls.
Legs shaky and breath heavy, I wonder what the word “few” means to her.
I just want to stop, catch my breath, and maybe eat a donut or five.
Back up to push pace.
The trainer calls out,
It’s been about two months now that I’ve been going to Orangetheory Fitness and seriously, if you’re looking for a great way to get your workout on, this is IT. Let me just say, I have NEVER been a gym membership kind of girl. If anything, I’d go for the occasional run around my neighborhood on a Saturday morning or if I was really motivated, on a weeknight after work (HA let’s be real, that last part never happened).
But at the beginning of January, my friend Maggie texted me asking if I wanted to tag along as her guest for an Orangetheory Fitness class, then head back to her house for The Bachelor premiere. I’m pretty sure it was raining
Ben that day so I agreed to go, not caring about the class nearly as much as what came after. I expected to use up the one free class and have that be that, but after just one hour I found myself signing up for a membership on the spot.
Here's what sold me:
- It's directed. Put me in a regular gym with all that equipment and I have NO idea where to start. I’ll spend more time sweating over what I should be doing than sweating for the reason that brought me there. Orangetheory, however, only conducts classes. Each class is one hour long and incorporates a mixture of three different workout methods: treadmill, rowers, and weight room. The entire time, the awesome trainers are calling out exactly what you need to be doing to stay on track for the high-intensity interval training. Workouts never get boring, because even within the consistency of this structure, it’s always a new variation with a new focus, whether it be endurance, strength, etc. It’s amazing how much of a punch they pack into one hour.
- There's accountability. In order to be in a class, you have to sign up ahead of time using a smartphone app, picking from an assortment of times available throughout the day. Once you sign up for a class, it subtracts from the number of classes you’ve paid for (there are both monthly and package options). If you miss the two-hour cancellation window, you don’t get your money back for that particular class. I love that the whole system forces you to plan out your workouts and commit; you can’t just wake up and decide you don’t feel like going- that is, unless you’re willing to pay for it anyways.
- You can visualize progress. My favorite part about Orangetheory is that every time you workout, you wear a heart monitor that you buy when you first sign up. What’s cool about the heart monitor is that it links to a screen showing your heart rate and calories burned, which you watch as you’re working out. As your heart rate progresses, it’s indicated by colors ranging from gray, to blue, to green, to orange, to red. The whole “theory” of Orangetheory is that the best workout will get you into the “orange” heart rate zone for 12-20 minutes of a 60 minute workout, which is the goal. If you hit at least 12 minutes, studies show it will boost your metabolism by promoting 36 hours of “caloric after-burn.” The screen makes it very clear as you’re working out whether you need to push yourself more, or if you’re on track.
So why do I share all of this?
I share because, even after two months of consistent work outs, every single class, I still get to that point where I feel like giving up. When I’m out of breath after 10 minutes on the treadmill, or when I’m walking abnormally after one round of squats, or when I’m certain I can’t do one more row on that rower, I wonder if I’m even making any progress at all.
But I’m learning that growth often doesn’t feel like growth in the moment it’s happening.
It feels like pain, dripping sweat, and shaky muscles as you wonder how you can possibly push through one more round.
It feels like the sucker-punch of another push pace just when you’ve finally caught your breath for a split second.
It feels like a desperate desire for that sensation of displacement and discomfort to go away, so that you can feel settled and at peace once again.
Growth isn’t comfortable, because comfortable isn’t where the change happens.
I’ve heard it said that oftentimes we ask God for strength or growth thinking we’ll just magically begin to possess those qualities, but that’s generally not how it works. God doesn’t just give us growth, He gives us trying situations that cause us to grow. He doesn’t just give us strength, He gives us circumstances that require strength of us and cultivate its development within us.
I guess that’s why it's called growing pain.
I often find myself longing for the “gray” or “blue” zones because they’re comfortable. But God brings us to the “orange” zone, into the uncomfortable place, because without getting there, we won’t grow.
Growth is the moment when you don’t think you can go any further, but choose to push through anyways. It’s that moment you can barely breathe, when your muscles are trembling and your legs feel like they’re going to give out from under you, yet you choose to keep going.
That’s the moment strength is built.
So keep persevering. Growth doesn’t look like growth in the moment it’s happening, but one day the million little moments you chose to push through will be recognized as exactly that.
Even working out is fun when you're with friends.
A workout summary is sent to your inbox after each class.
Allll the Pinterest-Fitness-Board quotes seem so much nicer when you're sitting on the couch pinning them.
I'm with you, Brooke. All about that In-N-Out.