Welcome back to my blog, and welcome if you’re new! One of my favorite types of posts to write is fitness class workouts. I took a hiatus from writing during most of the quarantine, but studios near me are open again! Today’s post is all about Orangetheory Fitness.
What is Orangetheory?
Orangetheory is a group fitness class that focuses on the 5 heart rate zones. Each class is a mixture of rowing, treadmill cardio, and strength. Class participants wear a heart rate monitor and their stats are displayed on a board in the workout room.
The premise of the Orangetheory workout is to earn at least 12 “splat points” per class. You earn a splat point for every minute spent in either the orange (uncomfortable) or red (all-out) zones. Orangetheory claims that by spending at least 12 minutes in the orange or red zones (84% or more of your max heart rate), you’ll benefit from the “afterburn” effect. They claim this gives you an increased metabolic rate for up to 36 hours after the workout, causing you to burn even more calories after class is over.
About the studio.
I attended the Guilford, Connecticut location. There are thousands of Orangetheory locations around the world, so check their website to find the location closest to you.
The studio was really clean and nice-looking. I was told to arrive 30 minutes early for my first class so that I could be shown around and set up with a heart rate monitor, as well as receive an explanation about how the class runs and what to expect.
The front desk staff and my coach were super friendly and made sure all my questions were answered before starting class! Since there’s a lot going on during class, it’s highly recommended that you do actually arrive 30 minutes before. This will help minimize any confusion once the class actually gets going.
I’m writing this review during the COVID-19 pandemic, so some aspects of my experience at the studio are different from what they used to be. The class size has been drastically reduced to ensure social distancing during the workout. Masks are required walking into and out of the building as well as when transitioning from one piece of equipment to another. Wipes are provided before each transition so that equipment is sanitized before you use it. Classes were also 45 minutes long rather than the usual 60 at the time of writing (although they have since added some 60 minute classes back in).
Every location is different, but here are the pricing options I was given:
The unlimited class option is $179 per month. The option that intrigued me the most was the 8 classes per month, which comes out to $119 (or $109 with a 6-month contract). There are also class packs available which drive the per-class rate up significantly.
Orangetheory does not typically provide pricing information online; you’ll have to go to your local studio to find out what your options are.
The heart rate monitor typically costs over $100 from what I understand, but I was able to get it for less than $50 because they were running a sale. For your first class, you can borrow one from them for free. Your first class at Orangetheory is also free! Depending on the location, you may even be able to score two free classes.
Is it worth the money? Keep reading to find out.
A typical Orangetheory class is 60 minutes long. Due to COVID-19, my studio has been running only 45-minute classes. They have since added some 60 minute classes back in.
Orangetheory loaned me a heart rate monitor for my first class. Although I already use a Fitbit Versa 2, I wanted to be able to see my stats on the board during class like everyone else and track my “splat points”. I arrived 30 minutes early as requested by the studio so I could get a quick tour and an explanation of what to expect.
For my first class, I started on the rower. Then, I moved to the floor and finished the class on the treadmill. In my second class, I started on the floor and ended up rowing last.
Pre-pandemic, I believe class-goers could choose their starting station on a first-come, first-serve basis. From my understanding, they are currently automatically assigning them to maintain social distancing.
On the treadmill, you’ll typically alternate between three different paces - base pace, push the pace, and all-out pace. Your base pace is a comfortable recovery pace that you can maintain for a longer period of time. Your push pace increases the intensity until you’re a bit more uncomfortable, and your all-out pace means you’re working as hard as possible. You may also see changes in the incline depending on the workout for that day.
On the rower, you’ll typically have some rowing intervals broken up by a strength exercise using a medicine ball.
At the floor, you’ll be at a bench and may use equipment including dumbbells, BOSU balls, TRX straps, ab dollys, etc.
At the time of writing this, the two classes I’ve taken so far were completely different from each other. Although the classes will all involve these 3 stations, no two days of workouts are the same. You also don’t know ahead of time what the workout is (unless you get early intel from the Orangetheory Subreddit).
What were my results?
In my first 45-minute class, I earned only 7 splat points. I burned 313 calories, though, which is great for me in such a short class. In my second 45-minute class, I earned 13 splat points and burned 304 calories.
My resting heart rate is already pretty low, so I don’t ever expect my splat point number to be huge. But I’ll still be aiming to get 12 or more points per class - I’ve proven to myself that it can be done! I was really happy with my calorie burn in these classes.
My triceps were sore for days after my second class! Although I think Orangetheory is more of a cardio/endurance class, it’s very possible to end up feeling sore from some of the strength exercises.
Would I recommend Orangetheory?
I signed up for an 8 class per month membership. I absolutely recommend Orangetheory as long as you’re looking for what they’re offering.
If you’re just looking to lose weight and not significant muscle gain, I’d absolutely recommend Orangetheory. You’ll get your heart rate up and burn a lot of calories, which is exactly what you want. However, for a more well-rounded routine, I’d mix in a little more weight/resistance training than what you’ll get in an Orangetheory class.
I see classes like Orangetheory as “cardio with weights”. They’re HIIT classes and they’re super effective for burning calories, but you’re probably not going to be able to do much other than burn fat in those classes. I’ll continue doing CrossFit for the powerlifting and strength benefits. I’ll also continue with [solidcore] for the core strength and toning benefits. I’m currently trying to shred some fat to get ready for a vacation, so Orangetheory is a great addition to my routine.
Is Orangetheory worth it?
Given that I signed up for a membership, it’s pretty clear that I think Orangetheory is worth the money. It’s not cheap, but I’m willing to pay for classes that are worth what they’re charging. One of the huge benefits I saw at Orangetheory was the fact that I can see my statistics on-screen during class. This tells me when I need to be pushing harder and when I can scale it back. I love the science and numbers behind exercise, and I can see Orangetheory helping me make my workouts more effective. It’s also really fun to let your competitive spirit take over and push you a little harder when you see your numbers lagging behind!
Another huge benefit is that the workouts are different every day. As a fitness professional myself, I spend enough time programming workouts for other people. When it comes to my own workouts, I just want to show up and have someone tell me what to do! The variety seems great, but Orangetheory also sticks to the basics and does workouts that are effective.
Lastly, the coaches and staff are highly knowledgeable. From the research I’ve done, I’ve found that the training process to become a coach is very rigorous. This is evident in the classes I’ve taken! Coaches are also required to be certified personal trainers.
Did I like Orangetheory more than Barry’s Bootcamp?
Yes, yes, yes. If you haven’t already read my review of Barry’s Bootcamp, check it out here.
Orangetheory and Barry’s Bootcamp have very similar class styles, but I only ended up returning to one of them - here’s why.
Tips for Orangetheory newbies.
Can all fitness levels do Orangetheory?
YES! Even if you’ve never run in your life, you can do Orangetheory. You’ll be given an estimated base pace range for power walkers, joggers, and runners. You can power walk the entire class if you want!
You can absolutely take things at your own pace and don’t have to worry about your coaches making you feel bad for doing so. They’re there to push you, but not be intimidating.
If you’re someone who’s already fit, though, you can absolutely benefit from OTF classes. I don’t see how anyone would plateau in this class, since there are always ways to increase intensity.
I’ve really enjoyed my Orangetheory experience and am looking forward to using these classes to help me shed a little fat before my vacation. I’m not locked into a contract, so for now I’m taking it month-to-month. Will I stick with it long term?
I’ll keep you guys updated. For now, I don’t see myself getting bored with these classes or canceling. I’m already seeing promising results after just a few classes and I really look forward to every time I get to take a class.
Have you tried Orangetheory? What were your thoughts? Do you have any other questions about it? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you for reading!
Dominique Cheylise, 27 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.