Last Sunday morning I met my best friend and workout partner at Orange Theory for our first class. We are both into working out and love various forms of exercise from running to HIIT to yoga – we have tried it all and keep a ‘mixed approach’ to our weekly routines. To be honest, I was a bit intimidated hearing the “high intensity” words thrown around and was glad KT and I could find a time to try out the class together.
But from the second we walked in the studio we were put at ease. Maybe it was the location’s employees, but wow, OTF is one happy place!
We were asked to come early for a welcome, walkthrough and overview before class kicked off. I think we would have been fine all the same, but it was nice to get a little heads-up on what to expect.
So, what is Orange Theory?
Orange Theory is heart rate-based interval training utilizing rowing machines, treadmills and a variety of strength equipment. The workout is segmented into blocks of work that you move through during the 50-minute workout. The other component is the heart rate monitor. You wear a strap that monitors your heart rate, BPM and caloric burn. This is one of the key differentiators to OTF as they use the data to gauge your workout.
What are workout blocks?
OTF has a few different types of workout, but they all center around the three areas listed above. You’ll start on one machine and perform a block workout (usually a set of three challenges or workouts if you are on weights) and then move to the other. You can choose where you want to start your workout, but a class is usually broken into two or three groups that rotate through the machines. Expect to spend 20-30 minutes working through sets on the treadmill and the other time split between the row machine and weights. There is also a cooldown that lasts three to five minutes.
What about this heart rate strap?
You attach it to your chest strap and during the class, your name and heart rate zone, categorized by color, are projected onto a screen. Blue is the cooldown/warmup zone, green is moderate, orange is fitness and red is the high limit. Ideally, you’ll want to stay within a green or orange zone for the majority of the workout, hence the name “Orange Theory.”
At the end of your workout, you receive an email that shows your results from the class. (There are large screens in the workout room displaying real-time updates. But it is nice to have the option to look back at your final results.
What about different fitness levels?
OTF is structured for members to go at their own pace. For example, the treadmill portion of the workout has a walking, jogging and running options. You select where you want to start your workout and the instructor will take it from there. Walkers add incline while joggers and runners add speed and sometimes incline as well! And if you need to downshift from jogging to walking, go for it. No one is there tocriticizee or critique. The environment is incredibly supportive.
OTF has instructors that are high on life, or coffee and are amazing at kicking off the class with a quick explanation of what to expect the structure of the class to entail. They lead you through the entire class leaving you to focus on putting all of your effort into your workout. They provide cues when it is time to take action on the treadmill, rotate stations and provide a demonstration of the weight moves. (<–The instructor is by far the highlight of the OTF workout for me. Having someone lead you through a workout that you can be sure is challenging, dynamic and full-body lets me focus on executing.)
Everything is orange from the lights to shirts to the machines. It is a bit overkill, but hey, when you have a color in your name I guess you run with it.
The music was loud, but not so much that you couldn’t hear the instructor or cues. The first class I took the music was a lot of beats and little singing. For me, that is ok. But the second class was a 2000’s throwback mix that had me signing while I was running (or at least I tried). The music really pumped me up!
I met my girlfriend at the location near her, which is about 15 minutes from my house. However, there is a location one mile from my house. So awesome. A membership at OTF allows you to visit any location at any time. There are over 400 locations nationwide with more opening this year.
Overall I love that OTF has a ‘group’ feel to the workouts (you talk about how well the class did during the cooldown), but it is certainly not a gym or place to stand around and chat. OTF is all about getting in, working hard and getting on with your day – something I really appreciate.
The other thing I love is the way you can customize your workout. The first time I attended I gave my all: full sprints, heavy weights. The second visit I was coming off a bout with the flu, so I was a little off my game. I still worked hard (the heart rate monitor helps), but took it down a few levels knowing my body was not at its peak.
The workouts are awesome. AWESOME. I do a variety of workouts from spinning to cross training to yoga, but this style and pace was something new to me. I can tell it would be a very effective workout if added into my workout schedule. However, because it is so intense, I would aim to attend a class twice a week as some of my other workouts are intense as well.
Overall, I loved OTF. It was fun, high-energy, effective and different.
Have you tried OTF? Do you workout with a heart rate monitor? What’s your favorite workout?