Orange Theory Fitness Review

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a registered dietitian, nutritionist or personal trainer. I am sharing my own workout and training experience which is unique, and may not reflect the experiences of others. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for them. Before considering any workout routine or lifestyle change, please consult your physician.

If you’ve been an Orangespoken reader for a while now, and follow me on the social media, you’ve probably heard me talk about Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) once or twice, or 1,000 times. It’s because I truly love the place. And that’s no lie. In fact, no one is compensating me for this post. I’m not “working” for Orangetheory (even though my blog title may say otherwise) 😉 I just really dig the workout. I’ve been there for over two years and each time I leave a 60 minute session, I walk out refreshed, energized; feeling strong, empowered and confident. Yes kids, it’s really that good.

I get a LOT of traffic to my blog from people searching for information regarding the workout at OTF, and it’s been awhile since I’ve written a post about it, so I thought it was time to bring them back into the spotlight and share with you everything I’ve learned while being an Orangetheory Member over the past 2 yrs!

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from orangetheoryfitness.com

Orangetheory Fitness studio locations can be found all over the United States, with quite a few studios here in Florida! To find out if there’s a location near you, check out the website. The good news? You’ll know in advanced if OTF is headed to your town because of their (genius) marketing tool: orange bikes scattered across town! 

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orangetheoryfitness.com

You’ll know OTF will be opening soon once you see these orange babies popping up around your neighborhood! I workout at three of the locations here in the Tampa Bay Area: South Tampa (just south of Kennedy on Dale Mabry), Carrollwood and Westchase (West Hillsborough Avenue). Certain membership packages allow you to hop around the different locations (following your favorite Orangetheory coaches, of course!) 😉

So what IS Orange Theory anyway?

From the website: Orangetheory Fitness uses the science of Heart Rate Based Treadmill Interval Training, the efficiency of Indoor Rowing for increased power and the proven concept of Weight Training Blocks to create the fitness level and body you have always desired. Workout and Weight Loss plateaus are a thing of the past….really! The physiological theory behind the Orangetheory workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. By using our heart rate straps and PODS, we can monitor your 5 zone interval training sessions that we call the Orange 60. During the 60 minute workout, you will perform multiple intervals designed to produce 12-20 “splat points” (or 12-20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate), which translates to Zones 4/5. This program design produces EPOC, which is the workout “after-burn” effect, meaning that our interval training design produces a 200-400 calorie increase to your metabolism 24-36 hours after your workout. The Orangetheory workout will produce for you increased muscle endurance, power, stamina and tremendous weight loss, if desired. With good music, a talented group trainer and a high energy studio, you have the recipe for a workout that produces BIG and LASTING results.

How do I get started?

Deciding to start a fitness program is always the hardest part. Once you know you want to make that change, the next step is trying out what will work best for you. If you think you can’t keep up with a 60 minute Orangetheory class, give it a try first! OTF is truly is designed for people of all ages, abilities, sizes, and shapes. Although you’re working out in a group setting (maximum class size ranges depending on studio size, but can be anywhere from 22-28 in a traditional class), there is a trainer there guiding your workout, providing accommodations, and checking on you every step of the way. If they see you struggling to complete a movement, they’ll show you how to modify it for your ability and level.  Your first class is ALWAYS free! All you have to do is pick up the phone, tell them you’re new and want to try a class. They’ll take some information from you, and schedule a time. You’ll need to dedicate about 90 minutes of your day for your first class. You’ll spend the 30 minutes before the session starts getting to know the ins and outs of an Orangetheory workout, meeting the coach, getting a tour of the facility and fitted with a heart rate monitor. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and would like to join me for a class for moral support, I will gladly workout with you if you’re feeling a little nervous about going alone! Just email me!

What should I expect?

Once you have committed to trying out your first Orangetheory class, make sure you’re prepared for the session. Dress in comfortable, breathable clothing, wear running shoes, bring a towel for sweat and a bottle of water. As you walk into a studio, you’ll see that the space is divided into four sections: the waiting and office area, the cardio area, the rowers area and the strength training area. OTF is also equipped with bathrooms, showers/changing rooms and lockers for convenience. The waiting space is brightly lit and has benches and chairs to hang out in if you arrive a little early. Most locations sell merchandise and bottled water. Before the workout begins, you are given a heart rate monitor to wear under your workout clothes (against the skin), to track heart rate changes throughout the workout. Once you become a member, you purchase your own heart rate monitor to keep! The monitors are connected by bluetooth and are constantly updated throughout the workout. If it’s your first time, someone will show you how to put it on correctly. While you’re working out, your progress (calories burned, heart rate, workout intensity zones) will be displayed on large flat screen televisions all around the studio. As long as you keep your heart rate monitor on, you’ll be able to keep track of your progress during your 60 minute session. Your coach will also keep an eye on everyone’s progress to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time spent there.  Each person will be assigned a section of the screen which will display the current stats of your progress during the session. Your square will show different colors depending on the level of intensity you’re currently performing at (based on your target heart rate). Gray is about 50%, blue is about 60%, green is about 70%. To get into those target EPOC zones (orange and red), you must be working at 84% of your maximum heart rate or higher. As you work out, you will ear Splat points for every minute you spend in the orange or red. Remember, as mentioned above, you want to try to spend at least 12 minutes (that’s 12 splat points) in the orange or red combined to achieve EPOC, which will help to continue to burn calories hours after your actual workout! 

(From the Westchase Facebook page)

(From the Westchase Facebook page)

The workout areas (treads, rowers and weights) are equipped with “mood lighting”. The entire area has this awesome orange glow to it. It almost feels like you’re underwater during a sunset. To me it is so calming and, to be completely honest, during my first workout at OTF, that effect made me feel more comfortable as a newbie. I felt like all eyes weren’t on me. In addition to the cool lighting, when you first enter the workout space, you are literally blown away by music. The tunes are loud and really get you pumping. Sometimes while working out I feel like I’m being transported back to my 10 year old self getting my roll on at the skating rink. This is NOT just a regular, boring gym you guys. It really is FUN.

from orangetheoryfitness.com

Before your workout begins, your coach will come out to the waiting area to greet everyone, make some announcements, talk a bit about that day’s workout, and provide a little pep talk. No two workouts are ever the same. Workouts are designed to be creative and challenging: focusing on different muscle groups each day. If you think you’d get bored at OTF, you’re wrong. Every workout packs a punch and is always a total surprise.

As you enter the workout space to start the 60 minute session, you’ll typically be divided into 2 groups. One group will start on the treadmills (there are also a couple of lower impact cardio options like bikes and an elliptical), while the other half heads to the rower and weights area. There are special classes a few times a week called “tornado” classes where the group is divided into 3 smaller groups, rotating more frequently between the 3 workout areas. These tornado workouts also accommodate a larger group of exercisers. I would not suggest taking a tornado for your first Orangetheory experience, as it’s a little different than a normal session. Some OTF locations also hold 90 minute “pro” level classes on select Saturdays for members wanting a little more of a challenge.  

If you start on the treadmill side of the workout, you’ll be there for about 26 minutes, doing a variety of speed interval training (incline interval training if you’re a walker) during that section of the workout. As you walk, jog or run on the treadmill, the coach will be guiding you through the intensity changes via a microphone. So as you workout, you’ll be listening to their cues. During your orientation you’ll learn all about the 4 levels of treadmill interval training: base pace, push pace, all out pace, and active recovery pace. Your base pace is like your starting speed/incline; your push is a little faster/higher incline, your “all out” is just that: ALL OUT. Meaning how fast or how much incline can you do at your maximum ability; basically giving it “all you’ve got“. And finally, your active recovery is where you’ll go slower than your base until you lower your heart rate a bit and you’re ready to jump back in (typically after an “all out”). Each interval chunk lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes at a time. As you build up your stamina, and become stronger, you’ll find that you can go faster and harder. You’ll also notice that your recovery time will also get shorter!  It’s a really cool transformation that you may start to notice within your first few weeks at OTF. 

Your second 26 minute chunk of the workout will be spent divided between the rower area and the weight room. Your trainer will go over how to use the equipment during your orientation which will include proper and safe use of the rower, suspension training straps, free weights, medicine balls, scooters, benches, kettle bells and bosu balls. During the strength training session you will be using a variety of the equipment, mixed with sessions on the rower designed to keep your heart rate up. Like I mentioned earlier, every move and workout can be modified if you feel like you cannot do something, or if you have an injury. Always communicate with your coach and let them know how you’re feeling; especially at the beginning of a workout if you have an injury or some other limitation they will need to know about that day. The coaches are there to make you get the most out of your workout, while keeping you safe, and making you feel confident the entire time. Although you’re training in a group setting, it’s important that you always focus on yourself: your goals, your pace, your abilities, your workout

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from orangetheoryfitness.com

Once the two 26 minute sessions are completed, you’ll clean up your workout area (they provide disinfectant wipes for you!), and put any equipment away. Then, the coach will lead the group into a 5 minute cool down session where they incorporate a variety of stretching and yoga poses to help you in your post-workout recovery. Then, the coach will walk the group over to the nearest screen to review final stats. Everyone will have their own section of the screen that will go over calorie burn for that workout, maximum heart rate achieved, and how much time spent in each colored section of intensity. You’ll also receive an email explaining your results for that workout, and each and every workout after that!

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)

 What do I love most about Orangetheory?

I love the science behind their system.  The data is right there. I can monitor my progress throughout a workout, adjust my intensity if needed, and know exactly what it takes to push my body to meet my caloric or heart rate goals for that session. It really is an easy system, and gives you a lot of control. You don’t have to be a fitness expert. You just need to listen to your body, watch your stats and follow your coach. 

I love the camaraderie an OTF session brings. Although you’re not really ever talking to the other members while in the training area (the music is pumping!), you know that you have that support from one another during the time you’re there. You always have that feeling that your coach is there for you, and they make you feel empowered; like you can do anything when you’re with them in that space during that time. I have never left an OTF session feeling discouraged, frustrated or regretful. OTF is such a positive place and you feel that from the moment you walk through the door. In addition, they offer challenges all year long! Members can win prizes, set goals, and challenge themselves in fun and different ways. Like I said before, OTF is anything but boring!

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)

(From the Westchase OTF Facebook page)

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I love the technology. I love that you can book sessions online, and receive email breakdowns of your performance after each workout. I love that the coaches are available on social media, and interact with members. It’s an added confidence boost when coaches specifically shout out your accomplishments, no matter how small.

I love the investment. If you’re currently buying fast food meals or Starbucks coffees multiple times a week, then you can afford Orangetheory. It all comes down to priorities, and what kind of investment you’re willing to spend on your own health. There are no contracts, so you’re not locked into anything. They offer everything from class packages to unlimited monthly deals (that’s what I have), which will fit into anyone’s budget if you decide to make it work. They also offer awesome incentives and sometimes even discounts for referring potential clients!

I love my own results. I’ve lost about 60lbs since joining OTF 2 years ago. I’ve built muscle, toned up areas, smashed calorie and strength goals, gained confidence, made friends, and inspired others to join me. I even completed my first 1/2 marathon in March of 2015 because of the strength and confidence I’ve achieved through Orangetheoryfitness. 

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Coach Jeff and I when I first started OTF.

If you have any questions about Orangetheory Fitness, or would like to join me for a free first class, let me know! I bet you’ll love it just as much as I do. 🙂

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May 2015

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Coach Matt from OTF and I at Miles for Moffitt 2015

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