I hadn’t heard of Orangetheory until a few weeks ago when our apartment manager sent out an email promoting a free week for residents. Orangetheory is all about achieving optimal heart rate levels while performing a mix of cardio and weight exercises in a small group class. The goal is to spend 10-20 minutes in the “Orange Zone” of heart rate so that you continue to burn calories after exercising. The “afterburn” effect leads to an increased metabolic rate for 24-36 hours after the class. So between the class itself and the Orange Zone afterburn, Orangetheory goers can burn 500-1000 calories each session!
I called to set up a time to come in for a class and had to answer a few questions: height, weight, age, current exercise regimen, fitness goals. Hour-long classes are offered many times during the day so you can easily find a session to fit into your schedule. I went to a 4:15 class and two 12:00 pm classes at the Morrisville, NC location. Even though the coaches differ for each session, the workouts every day are the same nation-wide.
I was almost blinded by the amount of orange when I entered OrangeTheory. Energy isn’t just conveyed through the colorful walls and equipment (also in orange), but the staff and coaches were full of energy, welcoming me as soon as I entered. I arrived early the first day to fill out some paperwork, take a tour and get my heart rate monitor. Since I was just coming for a trial week, I borrowed a heart rate band. But if you’re a regular, Orangetheory encourages you to purchase a band. The Polar heart rate monitor just clicks onto it. The facility has a small cubby area, two bathrooms and a room with a shower.
Since I was early, my coach, Jess, showed me how to use the water rower (believe it or not, I’ve never used a rower before!). Jess also gave me an overview of the studio, the treadmills, and how the class is laid out. The studio itself feels small but works well for groups up to 24 people. There are 12 treadmills, 12 rowers and 12 TRX bands. Each TRX band has a station with weights, folded bench and a small thick mat (great for elbows during planks). It all seemed very clean and modern with top notch equipment.
There are several huge TV screens in the studio, as well. Two of them show everyone’s heart rates. I loved watching my heart rate during class, and trying to get it into the orange zone (zone 4/5). I had trouble getting my heart rate into the orange, especially during my first class which didn’t have much running incorporated into the workout. I think because I’m a big runner, my heart rate is just slower. Staying in the green zone isn’t a bad thing though since it’s the fat-burning zone. At the end of each class, your overall stats are shown on the screen and you get an email summary from Polar.
Here are my summaries from classes 1-3:
Classes 2 and 3 were with Tyson and were bigger (about 22 people) and had more treadmill time. The energy in the room seemed significantly higher with the larger group – a good thing. If you’re not a runner, you can power walk and just increase the incline to up the intensity. There are three levels: base (comfortable, 5.5+ for runners), push, all out. Tyson had us alternate between these levels and then switch to the rowers. We spent about half of the classes on rowers/treadmills and the other half on the other side of the studio with weights and TRX bands. The other TV in the studio shows the floor exercises, typically three at a time. Even though the coach does an initial demo, it’s nice to have the screen to reference and check form or number of reps. I found the floor exercises to be pretty challenging and offer a lot of variety. We did everything from side planks to mountain climbers to bench presses.
I loved Orangetheory. It was great to get in a total body workout in just an hour. I did find the stretching to be rushed at the end (they maximize the hour with working out), so you’d probably need to do some additional stretching on your own or supplement it with some yoga classes. It’s great to go to a gym and not have to figure out what to do. Just show up to Orangetheory and know you’ll get a great workout in a fun, energetic environment with great music (did I mention that yet? The music is fantastic!). I was also surprised, in a good way, at the variety of people in the classes! Granted, I was going at kind of random times but ages ranged from 16 to 60, I’d say, and included all different fitness levels and a mix of men and women.
I also like the variety of packages offered. You don’t need to sign a year contract like at many gyms. At Orangetheory, you can choose from a few packages based on the number of times per month you’d want to attend (4X up to unlimited). Or you can choose a package of classes that you just need to use within a year. The flexibility is great! For a drop-in class, the most expensive option, the rate is $24. I believe you can try out Orangetheory once for free to see if it’s something you’d like. I highly recommend Orangetheory. It’s fun, challenging and the hour flies by! Plus many of the exercises don’t require fancy equipment, so you can take what you learn and do the exercises at home on your own, as well.