What's Orangetheory Fitness and should you try it?
If you're somewhat in tune with the boutique fitness scene these days, you've probably heard about Orangetheory Fitness. And if you haven't seen one of their franchise locations in a neighborhood near you yet, then chances are you might be living somewhere in the boonies.. With boutique studios taking over the fitness industry lately, it's not surprising to see Orangetheory locations popping up in all the shopping and residential areas around town.
As much as I like to explore different workout classes around new cities, it wasn't until a few months ago that I took my first class at Orangetheory. Most of the time, the workouts I do during the week are exercises I've put together myself with circuit training on and off the treadmill, and knowing that the classes at Orangetheory were similar, I thought it would be good to get into a new environment. I find it helps to mix in group exercise on occasion so you don't have to think about how to structure the workout or what to do next.. and having the instructor and others around is definitely a good way to stay motivated.
So what's it like?
When you show up for your first class, you have to arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled class time to sign paperwork, get set up, and listen to the rundown of the class. As a first-timer, you actually go into the studio with the instructor before the class starts and chat about the equipment you'll be using, your abilities, any injuries, etc. - I know I personally hate the feeling of being in a group workout when there's little to no explanation on how to do the exercise or use the equipment, leaving you with more time spent figuring things out than breaking a sweat - so this was definitely a plus. Even as a beginner in a fast-paced class, you end up feeling more comfortable and ready to go around a bunch of regulars.
For the workout, you can expect a mix of cardio and strength intervals including running on the treadmill or circuit training off the treadmill using TRX, weights, or their water rowing machine. At the beginning of class, you'll be put into a group that will either start on or off the treadmills. Once the class gets going, there's really no downtime. The instructor alternates between cues for the treadmill group and the strength group, so you'll always know what you should be doing and what's coming up next. In case you miss the explanation of an exercise on the floor, there's a screen with the set that shows the exercise and number of sets you should be doing at the time.
Music is loud, lights are dim, and before you know it the hour is over, and you'll never have thought you just torched as many calories as you really did. Your exercise metrics are tracked the whole time through their heart rate monitors, and displayed on the screen for you to see how you stack up against the rest of the class.
If you've ever taken a Barry's Bootcamp or SoulCycle class, you might get a similar vibe from Orangetheory. Good music, good instructor, and good workout. But what sets Orangetheory apart is the use of the heart rate monitoring as a way to keep you motivated during your workout, and even after. It's scientifically-backed and based on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) - basically increasing the metabolism after exercise. The goal is to get your heart rate to hit specific colored "zones" throughout the class for the most effective workout. Ideally, you should aim to hit the "orange zone," so that you achieve the desirable "afterburn" effect and continue burning calories throughout the day after the workout has ended. During class, you can track your progress in real-time on the screen, and push yourself harder if you're not hitting your target zone. At the end of class, the screen will display your personal summary, showing how many calories you burned in total and your duration in each training zone.
After my first class, I've gone back several other times throughout the month as a way to suppliment the rest of my training and to pay closer attention to my heart rate during my workouts. I used to train solely off of my heart rate when I first started running competitively in longer distance races, but I fell off the trend in the recent years. With some serious heart conditions running in my family, I recently decided to pick it up again to be more aware of where I stand across different styles of training. My goal is to monitor what my heart rate typically is during my "push pace" while running, and how it changes when I'm running at lower intensity or strength training on the floor. So far I've found the Orangetheory classes to be a great way for me to reintroduce the concept of heart rate monitoring into my fitness goals, while getting some great workouts on equipment that I wouldn't normally use on my own.
Branding is on point, music in the classes I've taken has been on point, instructors are fit and inspiring, and the personal stats are motivating - so it's a win in my book. I may be biased because I like the treadmill and boot camp-style workouts, but if you haven't gone and you're looking for a challenging sweat session, I'd say give it a try! The worst you can do is increase your metabolism a little :)