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The Importance of Heart-Rate Zone Training

With Omaur Bliss, GTX Coach

Season 6, Episode 9 | February 15, 2023

Understanding your heart-rate zones allows you to approach your fitness efforts in a more personalized way — working at the right intensity level and tapping into the right fuel source for your body at the right time. Omaur Bliss, GTX Coach, explains more about the benefits of this type of training and the ways it’s integrated into GTX programming.

Omaur Bliss is NASM-certified and a 5-star ELI performer with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness, programming, teaching, and training industries. He’s also a software developer and DJ. He coaches GTX at Life Time.

While a heart-rate monitor is the best tool for objectively measuring what zone you’re in at any given time (assuming you know what your heart-rate zones are), Bliss doesn’t recommend ignoring how your body is feeling. Rather, he recommends using the metrics as an affirmation of your feelings. Here’s how you may expect to feel in each of the heart-rate zones:

  • Zone 1: This is the easiest intensity level. You should feel like you could move in this zone for hours.
  • Zone 2: You could carry on a conversation in this zone but may just have to pause and catch your breath periodically. You’ll likely start to sweat some.
  • Zone 3: You may begin to feel a little less comfortable in this zone. You’ll notice you’ll need to breathe through your mouth. You couldn’t have a full conversation, but you could say a few words.
  • Zone 4: This zone is used for shorter periods of time, like minutes, during which you’ll push hard. You may almost feel like you’re running for your life.
  • Zone 5: This is the most challenging zone requiring an all-out effort. It can only be sustained for very short periods of time, often less than a minute.

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Transcript: The Importance of Heart-Rate Zone Training

Season 6, Episode 9  | February 15, 2023

[AUDIO] Alright. Welcome back to Life Time Talks everyone. I’m Jamie Martin.

And I’m David Freeman.

And we’re really excited to have Omaur Bliss with us, again. We’re going to be talking a little bit more in depth about GTX, one of the signature group training programs at Life Time We’re going to dig into why Zone Training with cardio and strength is good for improving metabolism, strength, and more– many benefits. We’ll get into some more things with that. Before we do that Omaur, I’m going to just introduce you before we let you chime in here.

Omaur is a five-star ELI performer with over 15 years of experience in fitness programming, teaching, and training. He is motivated by creating genuine human connection through fitness and lifestyle to enrich and enhance lives. Omaur is a result-oriented trainer and producer who uses a unique and multifaceted approach to get results for his clients. He excels in creating healthy, sustainable relationships with his clients and vendors. And that sense of community is something I know we talked in our previous episode about, and we’ll dig into here too.

In addition to being a trainer, Omaur is a software developer, DJ, and fitness contributor to several media outlets. And he holds certifications with NASM. That is a lot going on, how do you balance everything?

Discipline and sleep.



Simple, keeping it simple. Discipline and sleep, yeah.

We are not turning up on a Tuesday night. We are going to bed at 9:30.

I love that, I love that.

I need to take a lesson from you.

Yeah, sleep is essential. So I mean Omaur, let’s just– first let’s start. How are you and what’s new in your world?

I’m good. I actually am in a warm place right now for just a few more days, just visiting family and friends. And so very happy to be here and actually very happy to connect in with you guys and have this chat.

Yes, we’re so glad you’re here too. So one thing that I really want to start with is– and we’ve talked a little bit about your approach to coaching. And one thing that you’re all about is helping those you work with connect with their Why. That’s something that we’ve talked about a ton on this podcast. And we know that it matters for helping people stay consistent with the program, keeping them connected. So tell us, what have you seen happen for people when they connect with their Why and how do you help them do that?

What’s interesting about this conversation, I have to frame it a certain way. There are folks who talk about motivation and there are folks who talk about discipline. And of course, you need a little bit of both, but what keeps you in those two places? Understanding your reasoning for doing this activity or doing this thing. Be it you have a goal for a special event or you just want to feel better in your body.

And so really once you understand that main thing there, it’s a lot easier to understand why Zone Training is important or why strength training is important. And really that place of understanding Why, when things get tough or you get a little bit frustrated, because this is a journey. No matter what you’re doing, it’s still going to be a journey. And there are going to be some frustrating parts. You can look back to that Why, tap back into that Why, and find your discipline or your motivation to continue forward.

I love it. I mean, Why we do what we do. And Why do we come back over and over and want this result, right. You spoke to it. Motivation is great, but it runs dry sometimes. And understanding the discipline that you mentioned as well, couple that with that consistency. And now, within understanding you said zone training. This is something I’m super, super passionate about because it makes it so objective to each individual. So it’s now a personalized approach as well.

So within the specifics of guided transformational experience GTX, each person who’s on the treadmill or on the floor has something that’s unique to them. And when we look at Zone Training specifically, if you’re in a zone 1, 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 understanding what does it mean first. And then you can kind of take us through that journey here in a few minutes. But that to me is a game changer. And then what most people associate to– oh, the way I’m going to lose weight is I’m going to burn a lot of calories, and it’s like fat.


I’m going to burn a lot of calories, but where are those calories coming from? Is it from fat, is it coming from carbs, is it a little bit of protein– like understand that matters. So now I’m going to pass the mic over to you, the DJ over here, right. Get that. Alright, so Omaur can you kind of walk us through the why the importance of Zone Training.

One thing I always talk about when you’re looking to measure– well I gave it away. If you’re looking to measure change, right. How do you do that? Yeah, there are some sort of stuff that’s objective and subjective like hey, I feel better, that’s one way. But if you’re really going for a goal, how do you measure that change? How can you gauge where you’re at in that change? And part of what Zone Training does and understanding Zone Training gives you something to measure.

So yes, you want to burn a lot of calories. But as you alluded to, are you burning the right calories? Are you running at full speed for 10 minutes and sweating a lot, but really not noticing change? It might be because you’re at a place in your heart rate where you’re not actually burning the fat, you’re burning the carbs from the morning. You might have had some orange juice or something like toast, or a little oatmeal, or this or that, or whatever you had in your carbs that morning. That’s what you’re burning off.

You haven’t quite tapped into the burning fat. And for most people, especially if they’re looking for a compositional change such as, I quote unquote, “want to look more toned,” you’re now looking at that fat burn. If you’re an endurance athlete, you’re still looking at that fat burn. That’s going to be your primary energy source. And so having that little bit of knowledge as to what my personalized goal is, be it hey, I want to look better or I want to have more endurance. That’s where you have this tool now to measure your performance in that area as you’re moving through your workout. And that’s powerful for those on any place of that spectrum.


It kind of requires you to know, and be present, and aware, right, within any given moment of your training experience. Like if you’re paying attention to where you’re at you can gauge your effort, you can gauge your intensity, all those pieces. So it really requires you to be in tune with yourself, your effort, and all of those pieces.

Yeah, I’m sorry– you were about to say something, but I was going to go back to the discipline piece–


–in the setting. Because a beautiful part in the community aspect, it becomes almost competitive sometimes. If I see Omaur going at a speed of 8, and Jamie’s at a 12. Naturally I want to be at where they’re at, versus staying in my lane and running my own race. So in the setting it still allows us as a coach to objectively speak to that. If it’s supposed to be zone 2 or zone 3. And now you’re at your zone 2 or zone 3, and Omaur is that his zone 2 or zone 3. But I’m trying to match your speed. And now I’m at a zone 4, I’m missing the boat on that,right.


So that’s another piece. But I know you’re about to say something Omaur, what’d you have?

No, what’s interesting about that is you tap into something that every person will experience, that innate sense of I got to keep up, I got to keep up. And what we really focus on talking about is one person’s zone 1, will not be the next person’s zone 1.


And that doesn’t make you lesser or greater than. What it does mean is you are working to your individual machine. And again, we can measure two zone 1s and two completely different people and get the same general effect. As long as we are understanding what the makeup of those individuals are. Again, that’s where we talk about, really in the Zone Training it’s not about– and I give a lot of– of course, people are wearing the heart rate monitors in that’s great. But I also like to connect back to the feeling portion.

We get into this like it has to be either metrics or feeling. And it’s really both, the metrics should be an affirmation of what you’re feeling in the run. For instance, if you are in a zone 4, you’re going to feel like you’re running for your life for a short amount of time. This is one of the hardest pushes you have. It should be like that feeling of running for your life. If you’re in that and you’re supposed to be in a zone 3, meaning we’re supposed to be in a steady state of movement.

You’re not going to have a full conversation talking about what you had to lunch with your neighbor, but you can say a few words. You don’t feel panicked, right. We know what panic feels like, that might be that zone 4 running for your life, right. So we’re at this place where we can maintain. It might be a little challenging, but we can maintain. That’s really talking to not only that metric of, hey, I want to stay in my fat burn zone, but I also don’t want to spike into this place of, oh, I’m running for my life. Oh, I know what that feels like. So maybe I need to back down. Or no, I’m not quite in the place where I can focus on my run.

Again, in that zone 3, while you’re saying a few words here and there is really have to be present to what you doing to make sure you’re regulating your heart rate. In zone 1 zone 2, of course, it’s going to be easy. You can talk about the weather, you can talk about what you’re going to do this weekend. You don’t have to be as present.

Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about those zones within GTX. I know in my experience of class, we spend– get into zone 3 a bit, you push into zone 4 briefly, and come back down. But from my experience personally, I spent a lot of time in that zone 2 and 3 because you’re also working the cardio aspect or the strength aspect, excuse me. So kind of moving between those two, is that accurate to the format?

You know what’s interesting about the format? So we talk about anaerobic and aerobic. You’re going to spend a good amount of time in both of those. And what people think of is when I’m in aerobic I’m just doing this forever, right. And then when I’m in anaerobic, I’m doing this. And really what we’re training ourselves to do is to move back and forth through those systems.

It’s not like a light switch., it’s more of a fluid flow. For instance, in your zone 2, you’re not going to have as high of heart rate. You’ll probably feel more comfortable going for longer. That’s your aerobics state, that’s going to feel more comfortable. On a lift, you’re going to feel that same somewhat intensity. Especially if you’re in a set of– you’re going– you’re doing an AMRAP. You have 8 to 10 squats and then you move on to another exercise, a push or pull or something like that. It’s going to keep you in around the same heart rate.

Where you might notice that next spike up OK, we hop back on the treadmill. We now have go to zone 3. And for some people that zone 3, they might notice that little switch towards the end. We’re in this aerobic state. but as it gets more challenging, and I’m trying to finish, I might pop just for about 30 seconds into that anaerobic state. That kneading of that carb rather than the fat.


And so again, you might feel that on the floor. If we say, hey, you’re going to do this in 30 seconds. We want you to go as hard as you can doing renegade rows, squats, or some kind of ISO row. Again, that’s all helping you to train and condition yourself. The goal of GTX is to improve your strength and endurance. And of course, you’re going to experience that in your zone 2 to 3 by those little bump ups. Maybe you’re in zone 2, but there’s a bump up to 3 for a little bit. Maybe you’re in zone 3, and there’s a bump up to 4, and back.


As I talked to my class, we’re conditioning ourselves. We’re expanding our zones.

That makes total sense. And I know exactly what that feeling is having done this class a few times. It’s great.

I would say the one thing that I’ve seen consistently across the nation and over the years is we’ve had these gadgets, if you will. So it might be a heart rate monitor, it might be a scosche, it might be an Apple Watch at this point in time too, Garmin watches. So you have all these toys, if you will. The thing is they reflect numbers and you kind of said it earlier objectively as a metric. But is the metric accurate, right? So if we step on a scale that’s objective, this is how much I weigh, right? Now, when we flip that and understand that OK, this is estimate– I can’t even talk, estimations as far as what our zones–


–potentially might be based off of an age or a formula. So the part that I like that we can continue to drive home is around making the objective. Having an active metabolic assessment done to understand your true zones. So I want to go back. Some people zone 2 or 3 could be super challenging because they have this wide base of what they’ve built over years.

I can use myself for example. For me to get into a zone 3, it might look like I’m trying to get into a zone 4 because of the tolerance that’s been built up over the years. A deconditioned athlete could probably be walking uphill and be in a zone 4. So I think sometimes we also associate, to the point of what Omaur was saying, it sometimes is a feeling.


And then it can also be like, wait a minute, I did not know that this is where I’m currently at. And I don’t feel like I’m about to pass out. So understanding those metrics objectively I think is– I know is the game changer. And we do get a lot of pushback because people want that result right then and there. And when you’re looking at zones, it’s like OK, I know this now, but I didn’t nothing’s changed. But it’s a consistency, it’s a discipline of applying it is when the change comes.



Yeah, and it’s not something that– again, part of what I talk about is when you do something more than once a week, you’re creating that pattern. And it takes a while for the body to create a pattern. For example, you can do the one GTX, have a great time in the class, get a good workout, and never really see the results from that GTX. Because you’re not building upon that, you’re not expanding upon it.

And one thing that David brought up that’s excellent, I would encourage anyone to get an AMA, if you can. What that does is it basically sets a flag down in the ground. And it lets you know where you’re at. And again, we want to be able to measure. Everyone’s zone is going to be different and David brought that point up. His zone 2, might be much larger than my zone 2.


But we can have someone who’s a world class athlete and they’re not even in their zone 2 until what looks like we’re near death.

Right. I don’t want their zone 2.

Right. And so again, I always want to tell people, yes, get the AMA because that’s going to set your numbers correctly. If you’re looking at a watch and trying to go, oh, well I’m at 130. And you don’t really know what that 130 means as far as the connection of hey, my zone 2 for example is 120 to 150, right.

I’ve done my AMA and in that zone 2, I actually feel like I’m in zone 2. I can have a conversation, I’m not petering out.


That’s something that we want to make sure that people understand that, especially as they’re new. Some people won’t necessarily get those heart rate monitors right away, which again– or they won’t do their AMA right away, which are our tools that we know can help you to become more successful at measuring. But if we can give them something to hook into. Something and go, OK, I know I’m in my good zone of maybe my fat burn zone because I’m able to maintain this run for the 4-minute block. And I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out. That’s something that they can build off of.

Right. And that goes back to– we did cover a lot on heart rate training in a previous episode with Danny King. And he talked a little bit about things like the talk test and those different things. And so we can link to that in our show notes to make sure people can go in depth and figure out, if you can’t do an actual AMA there are other ways for you to of loosely gauge. Again, it’s not quite as objective, but at least can give you a starting point, a baseline to go with.

So with this obviously, with GTX it’s a split between endurance and strength, you’ve mentioned that. And with the goal of boosting metabolism, building strength. But we also know that it improves your base fitness. We know that it can improve your respiratory health, drive fat loss, and improve functional fitness and day-to-day life. Are there other benefits that you’ve had people share with you as a result of being consistent about their presence in GTX?

I think the two things that people notice right away, because what’s unique about GTX is usually for those season gym vets, they would do a split. They’re going to do their lift. And then they’re going to run. And of course, if you have three hours in a day where you want to do those two things, great. What GTX has decided to do is boil this down to the essentials to where you can get that in a 53 minute session.

Where you have something that’s going to rev your metabolism up, puts you in that zone of either fat burn, if you are working a zone 4, conditioning day that you’re building upon your zones. The functional training aspect is great because I think people get lost in all of the crazy workouts in the world. Where they think you have to do these excessive lifts or these crazy stunts with putting a bench on your back, and then lifting off– guys have seen it all.


And these are foundation. I like to call these– back when I started training for Life Time we had primal movements. And I still hold on to that. What are primal movements? These are movement patterns that you will do in some way, shape, or form every single day. A push pull, a squat , a hinge, a twist, a step. Those are things that you do every single day. And whether you’re a big athlete, or whether you are picking up your kids from school, whether you work construction you are all going to do those same moves.

And what GTX helps to do is to reinforce those movement patterns and then really be there to support you through understanding the mechanics. Though going back to that Why, right. The Why we do it this way? What’s functionally happening? What’s physiologically happening? And that I think in turn allows people to– hey, my back feels better. I’m starting to notice I have more endurance. My knees feel better. I notice I clocked a better time in my runs. All of those things can happen. And again, these are even though we’re in a community setting, right. These are all individuals. And we’re all coaching to that individual in the community.

Yeah, well key word there, community.

It’s where we’re going next, right.

We’re going right into it. So I mean you talked about a lot of that– you set that up nice. That’s a true DJ setting up the next song, nice, right. So with that, outside of the physical and mental benefits, you just hit on it. Community, the camaraderie aspect of it, what it brings. Once again, going back to your 15 years of being in this space, you’ve probably seen a lot of different communities. You mentioned Bruce, you mentioned Jerry, so the power of community. Can you speak a little bit to that?

One thing I think again, the power of community, especially when we go back to that talk of discipline versus motivation. What is one of those essential links in there? Sometimes when you first start off on something, it’s hard to be disciplined because there’s so many conflicting emotions. So having that community of support to say, hey, we’re glad you showed up today, thanks for coming back or some people bring their friends to GTX, right. Which is awesome. Because their friend has probably heard them say, hey, I need something different in my life. And they’re like you know what come on to this class. This is going to be good for you.

They recognize that community aspect is needed for those people who are on the other end. Because I like to think of, in that community there’s all walks of life, right. The season athletes, I find will like GTX because there’s going to be something that they are not doing in their programming and the encouragement of being around other people to get after that goal. That could be the runner who just runs and doesn’t lift, but once improve their time. That could be the power lifter who needs some balance. Because all they are doing is lifting and they want to be challenged. And they want to feel like they are being pushed, but using their body in a different way.

And so again, all walks of life, all interacting, and all for their Why in that community. That’s what makes it powerful and that’s why people come back.

Right. Well in building on that because you’re getting to an element of mindset here too, right. Mindset, and purpose, and Why, and all those things are connected. You need that in any fitness endeavor, you have to have this mindset. But you’re also in many cases, especially when you’re just getting started, and GTX is probably more for– like you said, it’s for everyone, right. So you’re not going to have people jumping in necessarily to Ultra Fit, which we’ve covered.

But in this case, like you’re helping people overcome intimidation, or lack of motivation, you’re helping them build confidence. How do you support those people who are facing a mindset obstacle? Like is it just getting in there and trying, just try Or what–

I find the best way of overcoming a mindset obstacle is to lower the barrier. That could be creating an environment that doesn’t feel like you’re pressured to perform giving people the space to take time when they need to rest and to slow things down. And to really listen to what’s going on to them and to encourage them to do what is best for them. But also to encourage them, hey, how are you feeling? This is a little challenging, you’re doing awesome You’re really doing awesome. One thing I say a lot in my class is the hardest part is really showing up.


I mean, yeah we got the car and the little swipe at the front door. But it is getting your mind together to go, you know what I’m going to get up today and go to this place and I’m going to do this. For someone who’s new, that might mean a lot of vulnerability. That might mean stepping into a place where they feel unsettled. And so my job is to recognize that we all have walked in carrying something. And the best thing I can do is to support you wherever you’re at. I’m going to meet you 110% right there. And I’m never going to push you past that point until you’re ready.

I love that.

Well, I know one thing you’re not alone in this.


Alright. We got a lot of folks out there who are coaching, delivering great experiences. So I feel like we need to go ahead and show them some love, what you think?

Yeah. We’re going to give some coach shout outs here for a second, these GTX coaches out there. So I’ll kick it off.


You’re going to take over because there’s a lot of them. There a lot of them. So we got– Alright. So we’ve got Jennifer Walter, Corey [INAUDIBLE], Stephanie [INAUDIBLE], Sara Losi. Alan Finley. Mariana Acevedo, Ian Cox, Allen Finley, Ashley [INAUDIBLE].


That’s on to you.

It’s on me. I got Nick Salley, Christine Chapman, Tessa [INAUDIBLE], Did I get that one right?

I don’t know, but we apologize if we said your name wrong.

Shannon Flood, Alec [INAUDIBLE]. And we got Rosa [INAUDIBLE], Amanda York, Drew Hough, we got Vickie Locke. So we got a few people out there that are definitely moving the needle in this space.

I love it.


Well Omaur, before we sign off with you, anything else you want to add?

I said at the last segment. And I feel like again, I can’t say this enough, I’m a big proponent of everybody having the experience of coming and checking out a class. And just know that you’re Why doesn’t have to match anyone else’s, it’s all your own. And use this as a tool that’s in your toolkit. The great thing about where we work at Life Time is, there’s a lot of tools, right. And there a lot of ways to move your body and to get a lot of what we’re bringing as a mission.

And so this is a place where, again, I want to say it’s the judgment free, fun zone where you can come as you are. And that’s probably my end statement on that.

I’ve got a mic drop moment for you as promised. You know that it was coming. The mic drop moment. Alright. So mic drop moment, one question. With the background of being a DJ, what is the go-to song to get the party started?

Oh OK. So I’ll do it by eras or decades. ’80s, “I Want To Dance With Somebody” Whitney Houston.

Yes, that’ll do it.

’90s, split in two. I’m going to go, “This Is How We Do It.”

OK, Montell Jordan.

And, “Wannabe,” by Spice Girls.


That might have been mine.


Don’t at me y’all, don’t at me. I’m going to get blown up. So 2000s you got Nelly,

In Here?

I would probably say, “Ride With Me.” Don’t at me, I know people were like, what? Yeah, no. Yeah

Late naughts, Yung Joc “It’s Going Down.” I’d probably say 2015 or the mid-teens, Fetty Wap’s– well two, “Mr. Brightside Killers,” Fetty Wap “Trap Queen.”


And of the latest, newest release. Things that I’ve noticed that have really just crushed a dance floor, Beyonce’s “Break My Soul.” Or– man that’s a hard one. I’d probably– it’s not quite new, but it still goes over pretty well, “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk the moon.

Yeah. it just occurred to me that your class probably has the best music of many classes because of your DJ experience.

Well I’m not going to brag, but you know–


I know it’s there.

Great workout, great music. All these things I love it, I love it. Well Omaur we wanted to say a huge thank you for coming on and sharing all of this with us. We know that people can find you at Omaur Bliss on Instagram. And we’ll be linking to some different content about GTX and the show notes so people can dig deeper into that too, but we’ll make sure people are connected with you. And anyway thank you. We’re just so glad you were able to join us.

Thank you. This has been so much fun. I hope to come back whenever you call or ask.

We appreciate you brother.


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