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Orangetheory Members are Built to TRI, and Here are 5 Tips to Prove It

By Leslie Barker

Mention DriTri to Orangetheory Fitness members, and you get mixed reactions:

Spinal shivers.

Nervous giggles.

Gleeful anticipation.

And, in the case of member Tanya Hammitt, goosebumps.

She remembers her first DriTri vividly. Which, when you get right down to it, is the best way to tell its importance, its benefits for physical and mental health, its unifying effect on members and coaches, its ripple effect long after you leave the studio.

Tanya was a newbie at Orangetheory Third Ward in Milwaukee when she first heard members talking about the DriTri, which includes a 2,000-meter row, 300 floor rep exercises, and a 5K treadmill run. Her initial thought? “There is absolutely no way!”

When registration at her home studio filled up, she figured (with a sense of relief), it just wasn’t meant to be. Not this year, anyway. She was scared, which is what she said when her coach told Tanya that some spots had opened up.

“I want you to do it,” her coach said. “I want you to prove to yourself you can do this.” So Tanya, not wanting to let her coach down, signed up.

When she walked into her studio the day of the DriTri, any fears she felt immediately dissipated — replaced by engulfing enthusiasm.

“Every single coach was there,” she says. “Everyone’s energy was on level 10-plus, and we hadn't even started yet. I was standing in the background, about to do Class No. 25 and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh this is why I pay what I pay to be here. This is what makes everything worth it.’”

When her heat began, she figured she’d come in last, but she didn’t care. She was just so happy to be there. Sure enough, she was the last off the rower. Others in her heat were finishing their 300 reps by the time she got onto the floor. As she climbed onto the treadmill, her legs were like noodles and her lungs were on fire.

“I’d never run 3.1 miles in my life,” she says, “but the coaches drill into you to get right on and get it moving because you’re collecting that distance,” she says. “There’s so much energy and good commotion, and you pick up on it.”

At the 2.6-mile mark, a coach named Ashley, who had finished her own heat long before, “hops on the tread next to me, presses the start button and is running next to me!” Tanya says. “The whole time she’s screaming, “Tanya! You can do this!’”

And then, as if that wasn’t plenty of support, her studio’s head coach looked excitedly at everyone watching and yelled, “They’re not finishing alone. Hop up on those other treadmills!”

So they did.

“I was on tread two, coach Ashley was on tread one, the head coach was on tread three, and everybody else all the way down — whether a coach, sales associate or member who had already finished — had hopped on and finished with me.”

After she hit 3.1 miles, members and coaches she didn’t even know kept coming up to her, hugging her, congratulating her. She sat on the treadmill for a while, just to let it all soak in, then had her picture taken holding a sign: “I can do very hard things.”

“I really can,” she says. “It taught me to stop doubting myself, to have faith and to believe in myself and my abilities, whether in school or life or work,” says Tanya, who works as an intensive care unit nurse. “I finished it and I made it and I want to do it again.”

Kelly Biedinger, also a Milwaukee member, understands that sentiment. A veteran of three DriTri events, she has gained more self-confidence — to say nothing of speed and ability — with each one.

“You sign up to push yourself to do something you're not sure you can do,” she says. “You can see what you’re capable of accomplishing. For me, it’s not being afraid to try something outside your comfort zone.”

That’s a mindset she’s held onto when facing challenges.

“No matter where I am,” she says, “I’m able to look back and to be reminded there is growth in overcoming things that were out of my comfort zone.”

Debi Kupersmid loves hearing such stories of courage and of overcoming DriTri trepidation. A workout design and experience specialist with Orangetheory, she started out as a coach and has coached more than 2,000 classes, leading many members to the DriTri.

“When they’re scared and then they complete it, that gives them a sense of satisfaction,” she says. “They cry when they finish. I cry. We all cry together.”

Here are some of her tips to making your first — or second, third or 100th — DriTri the best it can be:

  • Prepare. Go to class regularly, reminding yourself that finishing the DriTri probably won’t take as long as one regular workout. If your studio offers DriTri workshops, take them.
 
  • Just sign up. “Saturday morning is going to pass whether you do it or not,” she says. “If you do it and accomplish it, you’ll feel fantastic. If you don’t, you’ll wish you had done it.”
 
  • Come with a plan. “Have a goal, even if it’s just to finish, and to finish with a smile,” she says.
 
  • Break it up. Take one station at a time, she says. When it’s over, it’s over, and move on. If you’re nervous about, say, completing 300 bodyweight floor repetitions, maybe do one round, rest, then do the next one. On the treadmill, sure you’re tired. Just remember what you’ve accomplished already, and take it a quarter-mile (or half-mile or tenth of a mile) at a time.
 
  • Be proud. “The sense of accomplishment is huge,” Debi says, “and that definitely trumps the fear.”