Hey y’all! I hope each of you have had a fun and relaxing weekend that has left you feeling recharged for the week ahead. Today, I want to write and tell you all about Orange Theory Fitness. You probably have at least heard of Orange Theory by now as it’s a nationwide chain studio and has been spreading like wildfire throughout our home state of Arkansas in the last few years. Two Little Rock locations, North Little Rock, Bryant, Fayetteville, Rogers, and Jonesboro. To be fair, the class I took at Orange Theory for the purpose of this blog recap wasn’t my first OTF experience, but it was my first time being back there in a while. I had a membership at Orange Theory for most of 2017 and early 2018. I joined because the workout was unique and unlike anything else I had tried in the past!
Every Orange Theory class in composed of a workout that involves treadmill, rowing, and weight floor intervals. There is a new and different workout each day so the class is never exactly the same, although it will always include parts of all three stations. The templates emphasize different aspects of fitness being endurance, strength, and power. The class I took was an “ESP” template meaning we addressed all three throughout our workout and that’s honestly my favorite template as it makes for the most well-rounded workout in my opinion.
Before the class, you put on your heart rate monitor, worn on your arm. This monitor then displays your stats on a screen at the front of the room. Your heart rate, calories burned, and splat points are all visible within a square with your name on it and the color of zone you’re in is displayed on the screen. Splat point is the term Orange theory uses for when you’re in the orange or red zone, meaning you are working at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate. This is how the workout is individualized and how you can measure your progress from class to class. They say you should have a minimum of 12 splat points in each class. The color zones are 1) grey – very light activity 2) blue- warm up 3) challenging but do able 4) orange- uncomfortable 5) red- all out effort. Throughout the workout the coach will use the terms base, push, and all-out to gauge how much effort you should be putting into what you’re doing. For the treadmill intervals you choose your classification to be a walker, jogger, or runner. Each treadmill has a card on it explaining the speeds of each classification. For me, I try to keep my base pace close to 6.0 and that technically classifies me as a “runner” in OTF world, albeit I certainly wouldn’t call myself a runner outside of there. From your base pace, the coach will tell you to “push” or go “all-out” for x amount of time throughout the workout. The card that tells you the classifications for each base pace speed, also tells you that a push should be 1-2 mph above your base pace and all out should be 1-2 mph above your push pace. I gauge my pace based on the length of each interval, trying to go faster for the shorter timeframes. For this class on ESP day, I would push at 8.0 and go all out at 9.0. The fact that you set each pace for yourself is how you control your own workout. The coaches use those terms as a point of reference to how hard you should be working, but you are the one to actually set the numbers.
My strongest advice about taking an Orange Theory class is to listen to your body and actually make it your own workout. There’s a lot going on in one class and it can be overstimulating. There’s a lot of people in class, the screen is there tempting you to be competitive not only with the other people in class but with yourself too, and there’s a coach pushing you to keep going. To be completely transparent, I’ve thrown up twice in Orange Theory classes. Ugh that is so ridiculous I can hardly stand to type it out. I take responsibility for the whole thing. I knew I was doing too much but I kept going anyway. I should’ve stopped the treadmill and walked, but I didn’t. I have a hard time earning any splat points while I’m on the weight floor or even on the rower so I try to stack as many as I can while I’m on the treadmill. I’ve found that the best way to do that is to try not to walk. Even if that means I don’t go as hard or as fast during the pushes and all outs, I try to be able to jog through the recovery. If I do walk after a sprint, I try to get back to a jog quickly.
There can be up to 20-25 people in one class. To start a class, each person begins at a treadmill or a rower. If you start on a rower that means your workout will begin on the weight floor with intervals of rowing. People have their preferences of where they like to start, of course, but a large majority like to start on a treadmill, myself included. My reasoning is that I don’t want to start on the weight floor and wear my legs down, then have to go run afterward. Especially since I really only earn splats on the treadmill, I want to be fresh and ready to run. Well, all this to say that before class it is usually a chaotic cluster because people try to lurk right by the doorway so they can beat everyone else to a treadmill. It’s my opinion that the biggest flaw in their system is that they don’t have a structured way of entering class. In my mind it would be simple to imitate the set up at Disney World where you stand on foot prints leading into the entrance and as you arrive for class that’s your spot for entering. Instead, it’s more like a bull rush through the door, hello anxiety. If it’s your first class, the coach does take you inside and show you the equipment giving you a quick tutorial for class and you are able to choose your spot then before everyone else, but only that one time so enjoy it.
Every station on the weight floor has a set of weights and TRX straps. Sometimes ab rollers and BOSUs are a part of the fun too. The coach will demonstrate the workouts and they are also projected on a screen to remind you what you are supposed to be doing and how to keep good form while doing it. The coach has to multi task to keep the people on the treadmill and the people on the weight floor on pace for the class. Coaches do offer modifications if needed but they’re attention is divided due to the make up of the class. For this reason, I don’t lift very “heavy” in OTF classes because as I’ve shared before I am always scared of injury from bad form and prefer to be closely monitored while lifting heavy weight. That’s just my personal preference though, you do you!
Overall, I think Orange Theory is a great option for a full body workout, especially for those like me who prefer high intensity workouts. It’s definitely challenging but provides you with options to make the workout your own. I like that it makes me run, I like that it incorporates competition, I like the convenience that OTF is in most cities so you can keep going to class while traveling, and I like that you can see your performance stats after class on the app or in the email they send. The negatives are the pre-class door rush and the pricing. Orange Theory is pretty expensive. You can buy a monthly package with unlimited classes, 8 classes, or four classes. 4 classes per month is $59, 8 is $99, and unlimited is $159. I know several people who have really transformed their body by working out at Orange Theory so the pricing is relative for results that are possible. Also, you can try your first class free, which is awesome! I really like the staff at Orange Theory. The coaches bring their own individuality to each class with their playlist and energy. Stephanie taught the class I took and I’m a big fan of hers. She played hype beats and was very direct about what we were doing in class but didn’t nag us at all. When I’m really running sometimes I just want to dial in so I like having teachers that tell me what to do but then let me run without talking through it the whole time. Stephanie was great about that!
If you want to try Orange Theory for yourself you can sign up on their website or on the Orange Theory app. They offer multiple classes each day at all different times so there is a convenient time for everyone! I have missed going to classes there, so of course if you need a workout partner- ask me! If you decide to try it out be sure and let them know you heard about them from The Bold Condition. Thank you for reading!