Last December, right before Christmas, after months of thinking about it, I finally tried my first OrangeTheory Fitness class in Ankeny. 8 months later, I am a complete addict! Regardless of your fitness level, keep reading!! I’ll walk through what the workouts are like and hopefully sell you on at least trying out one free class in your town 🙂
What is OrangeTheory?
OrangeTheory is a heart-rate based interval training class. “Backed by the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC)”, Orangetheory advertises that their heart-rate monitored training is designed to maintain a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. They call it the afterburn and state that their members burn an estimated 500 to 1,000 calories in 60 minutes. And keep burning calories for up to 36 hours. I typically burn between 550-600 calories, men tend to burn closer to 1000 or higher!
OrangeTheory is also coach supported. Each class has a trained fitness coach providing encouragement, tough love, and detailed instructions on how to move through the circuits. We use TRX bands, bosu balls, free weights, benches, ab rollers, etc on top of the typical rower and treadmill training.
What to Expect at a First Class
During your first visit you will be walked through the OrangeTheory process starting with the layout of the gym. I have visited a number of OrangeTheory gyms and while they are all set-up a little differently, there are the same general pieces. The space is broken into two rooms: a front office with bathrooms and showers and the gym space with three distinct areas, all numbered. There is a row of treadmills (ours are labeled 1-12), a row of rowers (also 1-12), and a weight room section (with stations labeled 1-12). Once you have been introduced to the set-up of the space, you will be fitted with a heart-rate monitor and your name will pop up on the screen in the gym room along with everyone else’s name. The screen your name, heart rate, percentage of your max heart rate, calories burned and “splat points.” Heart rate levels are represented by colors and you earn a “splat point” for every minute you spend in the orange or red zone. The orange and red zones are the “after burn” zones that occur when your heart rate is up to or over 85 percent of your max heart rate. Basically, you get a splat point when you are working your butt off! I love this method of tracking my progress in a class! It is super motivating to see your progress!
Depending on the size of your class, you can typically decide if you want to begin on the treadmill or rower. Everyone will eventually rotate through circuits on the indoor rowing machine, treadmill and weight-room floor. Each class is different, sometimes you rotate multiple times, returning to the treadmill 2 or more times for short intervals. Othertimes you will stay on the treadmill for half the class. Regardless, you can expect to typically spend a total of 25-30 minutes walking or running on the treadmill (broken up into shorter blocks) and the rest of the class time split between the indoor rower and the weight room. Most classes also include a five-minute stretch at the end of the workout.
A coach leads the workout, demonstrating weight room exercises and calling out when to crank up the intensity on the treadmill and indoor rower. I love all of the coaches at the Ankeny OrangeTheory but definitely find them motivating in different ways and I have my favorites (but won’t tell anyone!).
Why OrangeTheory is the Best
I have always loved coached fitness classes so OrangeTheory easily met that need of mine. One of my favorite aspects of OrangeTheory is that it is a workout that can be completed at various levels to meet you where you are in your fitness journey. Whether you choose to walk on the treadmill and challenge yourself with inclines or kick things up and sprint at max speed, you can modify the workout to make it suit you and your current fitness level. (That’s why I told everyone to keep reading!) I also appreciate when coaches check on everyone on the weight room floor to correct form and offer modifications.
The workout is also high-tech and allows for easy progress checking! After each class you receive an email with your heart-rate breakdown and a smartphone app provides further information via a heart-rate graph depicting your progress throughout the class. Another way OrangeTheory incorporates technology into the workout is by displaying the weight room floor exercises on TV screens above the weight benches so you can easily reference them during your workout. (The coach demonstrates the exercises as well.)
I also love that as an “elite” member (unlimited classes), I can go to any OrangeTheory around the country and take a class. It is easy to sign up online and while “priority locations” have a bit of an up-charge (looking at you, Chicago), I have taken advantage of this perk so far in Tampa, Waco, and Chicago and had a great experience every time.
Finally, the time passes quickly! I can barely believe it when the 60 minutes are over. I never get bored and two classes are never the same (and this is after going for 8 months!).
You Will Love OrangeTheory If:
- Enjoy being moderately social but hate people really trying to start conversations when you’re working out
- Enjoy gym classes but hate how cheesy/easy/uncustomizable they can be
- Don’t want to feel like everyone’s looking at you while you workout
- Appreciate personalized help from a coach, but not being screamed on by a drill sergeant
- Want to lose weight, increase endurance, increase strength, increase mental fortitude
- Dislike traditional gym settings
- Enjoy a little positive reinforcement when you’re kicking butt
- Like to push yourself, are competitive in the least
Your first class is free so what is the harm in trying? It is worth noting that they will loan you a heart-rate monitor for your first class but you will have to purchase one of the three options from them after that if you decide to join. You can wear any normal workout clothes. I typically wear a tank top, sports bra, capri workout leggings, and cross-training/running shoes. Also bring a sweat towel (the gyms have AC but trust me, you will sweat!) and a water bottle. When you call to sign up for your first class you will be told to show up early to learn more about the workout, meet with a coach before class, fill out a liability waiver, and get fitted for a heart rate monitor.
OrangeTheory is not an inexpensive workout. I pay $149 a month with a 6 month contract for unlimited monthly classes. But I have seen results! It is the only workout I have ever been able to consistently stick with and not lose steam or interest. So while the cost is daunting, I have decided it is well worth it! Spending money to improve my health is a better investment than eating lunches out during the week or multiple coffee breaks with coworkers a month!
While the costs vary for each location, here is the Ankeny breakdown:
- $18 for a drop in class
- $59 for 4 classes a month
- $99 for 8 classes a month
- $159 for unlimited classes each month (month-to-month contract)
- Have you tried OrangeTheory?
- What’s your favorite workout?