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Five Minutes With: Orangetheory Fitness Trainers, Sarina and Ken

No Contract. Just Results!

Voted “the #1 one-hour workout in the US” by the New York Times, Orangetheory Fitness has now opened a new store in Causeway Bay.

Their workouts focus on interval training, which alternates between aerobic exercise and strength training. Closely guided by a specialised coach certified by the Orangetheory Fitness headquarters, the one-hour workout class will bring your goal achievement to its maximum. The exercises are easy for everyone. Since you can participate at your own pace, it is possible to train at all levels – from fitness beginners to advanced experts. Your heart rates and calories burned are displayed on a large monitor. Your results will be automatically sent to your account at the end of the class, allowing you to keep track of your fitness performance whenever you want.

We sit down with head coach Ken Roos to find out more about the business.


Tell us about your background?

I’ve always been active, I was in some form of martial arts most of my childhood and into my teens. I practiced American Kenpo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Judo, and dabbled in MMA when I was in college. My formal education in college was Criminal Justice, with electives consisting mostly of coursework related to the science of exercising. I had hoped to get into law enforcement after graduation, but in 2008 the market was very tough and I ended up going back to college to pursue nursing. During that time I was taking A&P classes and was passionate about working out so I took my ACSM personal training test and passed. While on the waiting list for nursing school, I walked into an OTF and the rest is history. That was five years ago.

What’s the concept behind Orangetheory and what sets it apart?

The concept behind Orangetheory is the science. EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) or as we like to call it ‘the Orange effect’ which is the after-burn you feel post training. Essentially, you work to a certain intensity, 84% MHR (max heart rate) or higher for a specific duration of time (12 minutes or more) in a one hour workout and that’s how you achieve the after-burn. We track heart rates with monitors throughout the entire workout. What really sets Orangetheory Fitness apart isn’t just the science, the equipment,  or the technology as all new studio-type gyms are using these things – it is the overall experience. The smiling faces that greet you when you walk into the studio, the care you get from our coaches, the compassion, the energy, the passion for fitness for all levels.

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What does it take to become an Orangetheory trainer?

The short answer: they have to make it through our strict training program. It’s a 30-hour program where candidates learn the skills and information necessary to coach workouts. However, there is a lot that goes into becoming an OTF coach: each candidate must hold a personal training certificate from a reputable organisation, have personal training experience, preferably group training experience as well, but the most important thing that I personally look at is their character. Are they a good person? Not to list all the traits I look for, but do they seem responsible, trustworthy, and dedicated? Are they passionate about fitness and helping others? 

Talk us through a workout and how that would usually play out

The entire workout is guided by the coach. We start by organising the class into two groups, with one group starting on treadmills and another on a Water Rower. We begin by instructing any new members on how to use our equipment, what the focus of the day is (endurance, strength, power, or a little of all three), and explain what the goals are for the workout. We always start with about a five-minute warm-up, then depending on where you started you would do about 25 minutes of interval training on the treadmill, 25 minutes of strength training and conditioning in the weight room, and about five minutes of stretching and flexibility training to cool down at the end. At some point in the middle of it all, we usually get cursed at – jokes about being nauseous, jokes about dying, and laughs – because that’s their way of coping with the pain.

Your classes max out at 20 people (an active choice by you guys) why is that?

Typical studios in the States and other countries have setups to handle 24 members at a time. Some studios are larger and can handle up to 30 or even 34 members in one class. We decided, and are the first to do so, to have two separate OTF studios under one roof. We have enough space to accommodate 20 treadmills and 20 rowers. So we had a choice – do we slam one room full of equipment and members and call it a day, or do we separate the room somehow and provide more one-on-one time with our members and the possibility for a more accommodating class schedule? We chose the latter. OTF prides itself on its member services. We send out surveys and read all reviews from all sources, and at the end of the day, it’s all about giving our members the best possible experience we can. We can ensure a better, more positive experience when classes have fewer people.

How do you think incorporating technology into the workouts benefits both you and your clients?

Before OTF, I never used a HRM, but now I rely upon it. It’s an amazing benefit for the members from a safety aspect. For example, when I was coaching in California, I had a member who all of a sudden started getting a lot of red zone time – this is 92% MHR and higher, and it’s a very uncomfortable place to be. He didn’t seem bothered by it and was for the most part fine. We began having conversations about it, and I suggested he see his doctor and take a stress test. It turned out he had major blockages in several arteries needing to be operated on. He would never have known about it and we would never have known what could have happened if he didn’t train with the HRM. I wouldn’t say I saved his life, but I am definitely glad that he is still around to take OTF workouts.

As coaches we can see how members’ hearts and bodies are responding to the workout using the heart rate system, and we can give them real-time feedback to either increase effort or decrease effort if needed in order to guide them to the best results possible. We can essentially see on the screen with the heart rate system how they are feeling throughout the workout. It’s definitely beneficial for us and for the members to be able to see that.

Why should people go to Orangetheory? And do you have any advice for them?

People should go to Orangetheory because their first class is FREE! (haha). Really though, to be honest, people should give it a try because truly anyone can do it. It may not be for everyone, just meaning that some people will not like it, and that’s okay, but we can scale down the level of exercises for beginners and scale up the difficulty for advanced athletes. Training together as a team is fun and motivational, and you can be rest assured that you are not suffering alone, that you have trained professionals who are monitoring and caring for you the entire time. OTF changes lives. I could tell you countless stories, not just about weight loss, but about emotional and mental changes – people who were so far down in the dumps they didn’t think they could ever be happy and fit. People have made friends and new families at OTF. I know I have picked some very good friends and family from it. That’s how I met Sarina (who is also a Master Trainer here at Orangetheory Hong Kong) and how we have come to find ourselves in Hong Kong. I guess the key is just to set realistic goals, then make plans to achieve those goals and follow through with those plans.


If you want to get involved...
Sign up to get a FREE TRIAL + free gift upon arrival or contact OTF on: Telephone: 5804 9081 Whatsapp: 5597 7296

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