New fitness center focuses on heart rate, science for optimal fitness results


Jacksonville is seeing orange.

Orangetheory Fitness, a group personal training workout, has fitness studio locations popping up throughout Jacksonville.

Currently, there are four OTF locations in Jacksonville: Mandarin, Hodges Pointe, Ortega and Fleming Island. The first studio opened in May 2014 and there are plans to bring at least two more studios to the area this year.

Trainers guide participants through a 60-minute workout broken down into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. Each participant is given a heartrate monitor to wear that they and the trainers can visually monitor via one of the several TV screens located in the fitness studio.

“It’s a real metabolism booster,” said Leslie Baccash. She and her husband, George Baccash, are co-owners of the Hodges Pointe and Fleming Island locations. The couple was living in South Florida, where OTF’s corporate offices are located, and wanted to bring the growing phenomenon to Jacksonville. OTF has locations throughout the country and in several other countries as well.

Based on the science of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), the program – which utilizes a variety of equipment including treadmills, rowing machines, TRX Suspension Training and free weights –is designed to keep individual heart rates in targeted zones. The “grey zone” is the resting zone, the “blue zone” is the warm-up zone, the “green zone” is the fat-burning zone, and the “orange and red zones” are above the fat-burning zone. The program is designed to boost metabolism long after the workout has been completed.

“It’s not just about weight loss for everyone – it’s about fitness and healthier living,” Baccash said, adding that it just depends what you want to do and what your goal is. “We have people that are runners and we have people that are triathletes. Their goal is not to lose weight, because a lot of them are already fit, but it’s more of a cross-training tool for them, and then we have people who have come in strictly for weight loss,” she said.

Currently, the closest OTF studio to the Beaches area is the Hodges Pointe location at 13500 Beach Blvd., Suite 30, Jacksonville. Weekday classes at that location begin at 5 a.m. with the last class starting at 8:30 p.m. Classes are generally offered throughout the morning, mid-day and evening. The studios are also open every weekend.

The company also prides itself on being community-minded. Each month, OTF does “charity burns” and gives to local charities. This month, OTF is doing a charity burn for Habitat for Humanity at the studio after which volunteers will go out and help at the actual home. Baccash said they had members who participated in the Fidelity Investments Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival race and estimates that about 100 members participated in this year’s Gate River Run.

“We’ve got a very engaged group of members,” Baccash said. “We call it the OTF family.”