This is What It’s Like to Workout Like an NHL Player

If you aren't bothered by wearing a lab rat-style heart monitor, this workout may be a great new addition to your routine.

November 23, 2017

By Maia Odegaard / Photo: Jordan Junck

When I received an invite to train like a member of the NHL, I felt understandably intimidated. Even though I’ve amped up my personal fitness goals since being in the bridal party of a girlfriend’s heavily photographed wedding, I’m still nowhere near professional athlete status. But I’ll admit I’ll try just about anything in the name of journalism.

Finding the newest location of Orangetheory Fitness in downtown Vancouver was a bit of a challenge—it’s at the Convention Centre, but on the waterfront side, not the street side—so it was handy they told us to show up half an hour early.

When I finally arrived, I was feeling a little out of sorts and wanted to sit down to fill out my waiver and paperwork. Someone had their phone on one chair and their jacket on another, so I moved the phone in order to take one of the seats for myself. Once I was feeling a bit more composed, I looked up to see who had left their stuff everywhere and realized I’d inadvertently reorganized Trevor Linden’s stuff.

Luckily, the retired Canuck is a gentleman and didn’t say anything about his possessions being displaced, and was charmingly affable to the few of us that had shown up a little early. While I’m not one to get starstruck, I can appreciate a celebrity who’s willing to chat with ordinary people.

It turns out Captain Canuck was traveling in the United States and visited an Orangetheory location when he was struck by the effectiveness of the workout, and decided to bring the franchise to downtown Vancouver, right next to one of his other fitness outlets, Club 16. When asked how frequently one should take this class, he concedes that once or twice a week will suffice so long as you’re also fairly active outdoors, taking advantage of everything else the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Before we can start sweating, a trainer comes out to help us get rigged up. Part of the Orangetheory method involves wearing a heartrate monitor connected to a system of screens in the studio that display your output. It did feel a little like being part of a laboratory experiment, strapping a device under my shirt so that it was as close to my heart as possible. Once the class started though, I didn’t notice its presence at all, and I vainly enjoyed comparing my stats to those of my classmates projected on the screens.

As it turned out, our celebrity-in-residence wasn’t there to teach the class, he was participating. We would all be put through the ranks by an Orangetheory trainer together. The first stage of the one-hour workout was high intensity interval training on the treadmill, but unlike many group fitness classes, the trainer was there to give multiple levels of instruction. If you preferred to power walk rather than run, she adjusted her instructions of what speed and incline to use as we worked our way through the various “zones” or heart rate speeds that burn differing degrees of calories. The more time you spend in the “orange” zone, the more calories you’ll burn post-workout, or so the “theory” goes.

During a one-hour workout, you want to spend 12 to 20 minutes in the orange zone to achieve the best results.

The rest of the Orangetheory workout involved a series of strength training exercises with free weights and other equipment. We worked at our own pace, with the movements and repetitions projected on another television screen so we didn’t need to memorize everything we’d been shown. At the end of our hour in the studio I felt just the right level of fatigue and pretty pleased with my results, which also showed up in an email so that I could refer to them afterward. All in all, the workout felt akin to an affordable version of having a personal trainer and I’d try it again—with or without Linden as my motivator.

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