Orangetheory Fitness is a new club that is expanding around the United States and Canada. Recently, a friend of mine told me about their type of workout sessions because she knew I was into circuit and interval training, so she suggested that I go with her and try it out. The first workout was free if you go to their website and print off a pass, so I went with her one Saturday morning and gave it a try.
The basic sell of this fitness program is that it uses high intensity, group interval training divided into cardio and strength training. They advertise that an hour long session causes your metabolism to spike as much as 36 hours after the workout. They claim scientific studies referencing "post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) to back them up, but I always dismiss those types of studies just like I do the MPG figures on the windows of new cars. Those figures are only accurate under the absolute perfect circumstances, and from my life experience, life is never perfect.
However, I am familiar with the after-burn effect of certain types of training and I know it can work to a certain extent if done correctly, so I was eager to try this to see if it was worth the hype. The following thoughts represent my opinion of my one and only workout session at a local club in Atlanta, GA.
What to Bring
Wear decent exercise clothing and bring a water bottle. I cannot stress that enough, because when you get thirsty (and you will), it is not the type of class where you want to be slogging off to the water fountain and breaking the flow of the class, and your heart monitor. Speaking of which, if you do not have a heart monitor, you will eventually need to buy one if you plan on continuing the classes. During your first one, you can probably borrow one from the instructor, but I would not make a habit of it.
My advice is to get to the class early, at least 15 minutes, especially if it is your first time. That way you can talk to the instructor and let them know it is your first time and get any tips you might need. Keep in mind that this is for all levels of fitness so do not feel intimidated if you are a newbie and it looks like there are fitness nuts in your class. My class was a 50/50 mix of high level athletic types and well… less than that. Also, if you feel that you cannot run on a treadmill, they will let you substitute that training with a stationary bike.
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The basic routine includes a round of cardio followed by strength training. The strength exercises use multiple muscles for a full body workout. You are divided into classes and the size of each group depends on the attendance for the class at that time.
Our class consisted of 18 people and we were split into two groups. One group started on treadmills while the other group started with strength training on free weights. The treadmill session alternated between power walking, then jogging, then sprinting for 30 seconds, then jogging, then walking. You get the picture. We progressed through those intervals for 30 minutes.
During the workout, you can look up at the monitors and see how you are doing. In fact, you can see how everyone is doing, so there is a natural competition factor which is good because it pushes you harder. It is up to each person whether or not they want to push themselves from the baseline green zone, to the red, and finally into the orange zone on the monitors. This represents the holy grail and will rev the metabolism for hours after the workout ends.
- Green Zone - 71-83% of your max heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes
- Orange Zone - 71-83% of your max heart rate for 12 to 20 minutes
Throughout the session, the instructor was running around motivating everyone and asking fitness type trivia questions.
After 30 minutes we quickly switched over to free weights (and the free weight group switched to the treadmills) which included high intensity interval training. We were doing burpees, squats with dumbbells, mountain climbers using a BOSU ball, and then sprints on the rowing machine. The entire hour is designed to keep your heart rate elevated with little to no rest.
At the end of the workout we reviewed our results (they are also emailed to you) and the entire group did a slowdown stretch routine led by our instructor.
First week is free, but after that:
- Four sessions (one per week) for a month = $59
- Unlimited classes per month = $159
- No long-term contract (month-to-month)
Orange Theory Training
There is no question that this will get you into better shape. I liked the workout, and I was pushed to a higher level, but I do not think I will be paying $59 a month for four workout sessions. There is nothing in these classes that you cannot do by yourself, you just have to take the time and do it.
In fact, for the cost of a month, you could buy some of the basic equipment needed to do a lot of the body weight interval training at home, like a BOSU ball and some dumbbells, on your own. At $159 for unlimited classes every month, by the end of the year, you could have a nice home gym complete with a treadmill or a rowing machine.
However if you need someone to push you, it is probably cheaper than paying for separate personal trainer sessions throughout the month.
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