I have this one friend who just loves working out. She runs half marathons and has real abs, and it's just the worst. 

We used to go to the gym together (she would drag me there), but about a year ago she started doing Orangetheory instead, which took away about 97 percent of my motivation to work out. 

After much persuasion from her, I finally tried my free class and ended up getting a membership of my own.

Let's get some background out of the way

Gabriella Paul

Orangetheory is a one-hour interval training class that monitors your heart rate. The idea is to get to (and maintain) a designated target zone, the so-called "Orange zone" (above 84 percent of your heart rate). Based on the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), getting 12 or more minutes within this zone creates a phenomenon called afterburn (ooooh).

Afterburn allows you to keep burning calories faster than usual for up to 36 hours (woah, science). For each minute you spend in the orange zone you get 1 Splat Point – 12 Splat Points means you win. Winning is good. We like winning. Yes.

Simple enough, right? I'm not the kind of person who actually enjoys working out. In fact, I hate it. But I'm cheap and competitive so I go anyway. After talking to many people who feel the same way I have come up with a list of the 7 stages of an Orangetheory workout:

Step 1: Booking a Class

OT has a convenient app that lets you book classes at any time. 

This happens at one of two times:

Number one is when one of your ~fit~ friends tells you they're booking a class and you know you'll feel guilty if you don't go with them (that's how motivation works, BTW). So you convince yourself to get out of bed and somehow not cry.

The second one happens any time you go out and get a little tipsy. This, for some odd reason, is the time when my brain is like: "You know what you should do tomorrow? At 8 a.m.? Orangetheory!" This option is very common and also the worst.

Step 2: Regret

For a morning class this happens at the exact same moment your alarm goes off. This is my written rendition of the moment: Alarm: *beep beep beep* Me: "WHY!?"

If it's an afternoon or night class, it actually lasts the whole day. It comes in waves: every time someone asks what you're doing later, and you remember you have to go to OT because you're within the 8-hour window, it's too late. You've committed now.

Sometimes, even though I know I should go to a class, I won't book it until the very last minute so that I can try to avoid the many waves of regret I feel otherwise.  

Step 3: Denial

Gabriella Paul

This is the time when you try to convince yourself it wouldn't be that bad if you didn't go today. It starts the second you enter the 8-hour window before the class, when you can no longer cancel your booking and your mind starts going "whywhywhywhy? nonononono!"

Then the excuses start:

"I'm really busy, I don't have time to work out. I shouldn't even be going." Or "I think I pulled something last time, I should probably rest." Or "My stomach kinda hurts, I don't think I should be running." Of course, 90 percent of the time this is happening as you're getting ready to go anyway because your fit friend is counting on you, and you can't let them down (again).

Step 4: Regret

Yes. Regret. Again. Your leggings are on, your shoes are tied, you're literally on your way to the class, and you are regretting every second that has lead you to this point. You are wondering how this happened. You are trying to convince yourself it won't be that bad. You're probably a little scared. You're considering turning around. 

For me this feeling comes with a little nausea, and it lasts until I'm already on the treadmill.

Step 5: Acceptance 

Gabriella Paul

You're there. The coach already talked to you and told you what day it is: power, strength, or endurance (if it's endurance, just run away while you can), or ESP day (all three, even worse).

You got on the treadmill, "stretched," re-tied your shoes and re-did your hair just to buy yourself a few extra seconds, and then you started walking, maybe jogging, and now you're suddenly really proud of yourself that you actually came.

You're here now, to quote Michael Scott: "Oh my god! It's happening! Everybody stay calm!"

Step 6: You're done! LOL, JK 

Gabriella Paul

Come on guys, don't tell me you fell for that. I told you it was going to be seven stages, remember? 

You're done with the treadmill, at some point your competitive streak kicked in and you decided you want the 12 Splat Points. You also may or may not have looked at the people running beside you and felt like a slowpoke, so you picked up the pace a couple of times even though you were unwell. No? Just me? Okay then.

Part of you feels great and another part of you just died because you're exhausted, and you are realizing you still have half the class to go. It requires weights, which you don't like; and abs, which you don't have; and rowing, which you're not good at (no matter how many times they explain it step by step). You're probably considering leaving, but you carpooled with your fit friend, so you're stuck here. Also, you're not a quitter, I guess... whatever. 

Step 7: #WINNING!

You're done. At this point you don't actually care that much whether or not you got the points (but if you did it's extra amazing). You came, you ran, you conquered. You're out of breath and a little nauseous, but you feel great. You get some stretching in (#blessthestretch), and you're ready for the rest of your day because you're floating on a cloud of endorphins. You is beauty, you is grace, you is...FITNESS!

Guys, Orangetheory is hard. It's also one of the best workouts you'll ever get. I don't love to exercise (obviously), and I also don't have a lot of time to spare. I go because I want to use my limited time wisely and get a real workout in one hour.

I go because I constantly learn new exercises and tricks, because I'm competitive and the heart rate monitor keeps me racing with myself, and because it's really nice to know exactly what the right workout is for me. Also, TBH, I never feel too guilty if I don't work out for a day or two if I went to OT that week: Hello! Up to 36 hours of afterburn! Keep up!

PS: "Hell Week" for OTF is Oct. 24 to 31. Just when you thought this workout couldn't get any harder...