treadmill

My Thoughts on Orangetheory Fitness [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

I mentioned in last week’s Fitness Friday post that I recently attended an Orangetheory Fitness class. It’s actually the second time I’ve taken an Orangetheory class. I took one last year at a different location but both times I’ve enjoyed it. Both times they were complimentary classes but neither time was I paid or required to write about it.

So, what is Orangetheory? Well, I could tell you what it says on their website or I could tell you what I told my running club:

If you like HIIT training and get bored of just doing weight lifting for 45 minutes straight then Orangetheory is great. Typically it switches between weights, treadmill and either the rowing machine or a stationary bike. It’s a great way to get in cardio and weights at the same time without getting bored or not knowing what to do. They also let you set your own pace on the treadmill so it doesn’t matter if you’re super speedy or not. You can also “speedwalk” during the treadmill portions if running isn’t in your repertoire right now.

Both times I’ve gone I was a bad blogger who didn’t take any photos. So, I’ll give you this one that I took after my own Wednesday night HIIT session on the treadmill in my apartment gym.

treadmill

Anyway, back to Orangetheory. Both times I went the instructor helpfully had all the first timers gather around while they went over the workout. As mentioned above, Orangetheory is a mixture of rowing, strength training with dumbbells, bodyweight, and TRX straps, and treadmill intervals.

You typically get to pick where you start. So, if you want to get your running in first then you start on the treadmills. If you want to do strength first while you’re feeling fresh, go for it.

Both times I’ve gone I’ve started on the rowing (or “erg”) machine. It’s the exercise I’m least familiar with so I wanted to do it first while I was fresh. And both times the instructor did a good job explaining correct form and how to read the machine’s computer. The whole workout is basically 15 minutes at each station and the 15 minutes of rowing was broken up into a several different sets. When I went last week, after a warm-up, the first set was to row 200 meters as fast as possible…because then you had to hold a body weight air squat for the same amount of time it took you to do that 200. Repeat with 400 meters and 600 meters.  Next it was to row at least a certain distance in a certain amount of time. And then it was some steady state rowing to finish out the time.

Meanwhile, a group was on the treadmills doing their thing and a group was doing strength. You’d think it would get confusing but you get so focused on where you’re at that you don’t even notice the other groups!

And here’s the cool thing: If you love data you will LOVE Orangetheory. Everyone gets to wear a heart rate monitor (included in the class fee) and you can see what “zone” you’re in on a screen during class. You’d think this would make some people self conscious but most people are just concerned with where they are personally.

orangetheory_board

The instructor will tell you what color zone you should be in so you know if you’re working too hard or not hard enough. Of course, it’s all up to you if you want to follow their advice.

For example, during the steady state rowing the instructor told us to be in the green zone. She also gave us guidance on where our wattage and strokes-per-minute should be. Very helpful.

Next it was on to the strength portion of the evening. I’d already lifted that day so I was planning to take it easy. But the instructor could tell I was strong and encouraged me to work a little harder. No slacking off here! We did a variety of exercises that hit biceps, hamstrings, glutes, and back. The entire time the exercises we were supposed to be doing and how many reps of each were on a video monitor in case we forgot.  To be honest, the strength portion is always my least favorite because I already do so much of this on my own. I’m really just there for the high intensity interval cardio.

Which you definitely get when you hit the treadmill. You pick your “base pace” which is basically what I would call your 3-5 mile training pace. And if that means walking that’s fine too! They even have a whole regime just for walkers. Can’t run or walk? Use the stationary bike instead! Once you’ve set your base pace the instructor will yell out how many MPH you need to increase from there for certain intervals.

The treadmill part always kicks my butt because they combine speed with incline. My heart rate is always in the orange or red. Which, by the way, for every number of minutes you spend in the orange and red zones you earn “splat points”. If I recall correctly the goal is to earn at least 12 splat points which will give you another 24-36 hours of metabolic efficiency. Or, colloquially, an “after burn effect”.

And then, after your workout, you get an email with all your results!

orangetheoryresults1 orangetheoryresults2

I could totally see how Orangetheory would be a great addition for someone who needs the structure of  a class to get in their strength and interval training. It would be a good addition to just running all the time, too.

But, personally, I’m doing okay on my own right now and like the flexibility of being able to workout when I want instead of needing to sign up for a class.

However, if you like classes where you can push yourself as hard as you want, love data but also aren’t in it for the camaraderie (seriously, there is no time to talk until afterward if you brought a friend) then I would suggest checking out an Orangetheory class. I think the first one might even be free!

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This week’s workouts:

Monday – Legs

Tuesday – workout with my personal trainer

Wednesday – Back & Biceps + 20 minute HIIT on the treadmill

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Legs + 20 minute HIIT on the stationary bike (planned)

Saturday – 9 mile run (planned)

Sunday – Rest

4 replies on “My Thoughts on Orangetheory Fitness [Fitness Friday]

  1. Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

    Hooray! I was hoping for a post like this! (Even though you did answer my curiosity question last week.) I always feel like a cheater at heart rate-based studios, especially if they involve running, because my HR just skyrockets when I run – I usually average 175-180 bpm on a normal, everyday run, never mind a run that involves intervals, hills, etc. But they always use the standard 220-age method to determine your max HR, which puts my “max” at 195 and makes it look like some crazy overachiever if you use standard zones percentages (and also makes it very difficult for me to be in that “orange” zone, just because my heart beats too fast usually to put me there, unless I’m doing strength training!).

    1. Erin @ Loop Looks Post author

      I had a hard time getting my heart rate in the “green” zone even when the instructor told us we should be there. Once it’s up, it’s up. And, yes, we were actually chatting about how the 220-age isn’t that accurate, especially for runners. The instructor said that OTF is actually trying to come up with something else but that it’s difficult when not everyone knows their numbers already.

  2. Lauren @ Lauren Runs

    I enjoyed Orange Theory Fitness for the speedwork & the fast-paced strengthwork. On my own, I enjoy heavier weights and taking my time in going through strength, so this was a fun switch up!

    1. Erin @ Loop Looks Post author

      Agree about the weights! In fact, for the “suitcase deadlifts” we did I definitely grabbed a heavier weight than what was on the rack at each station. I also prefer to take my time, too, so I appreciated that while they give goals of the number of times you should get through the sets they didn’t actually ask how many we did.

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