About a month ago I decided to find a new fitness routine. Over the past few years I have been just running and running and running. Lots of miles and lots of races, but I was still gaining weight and feeling sluggish. I realize that part of my issue is nutrition and not eating the right things at the right times. Around Thanksgiving time last year I started seeing a lot of advertising for this thing called Orange Theory Fitness. Seems like another fitness studio in the neighborhood to compete with the ones we already have. When I finally stopped by, at the urging of a friend at work, I realized it was not your run of the mill gym. It’s not Crossfit, it’s not “no lunks allowed”, it’s not your standard group yoga or spin, it is a little of all. So, here are my thoughts, both good and bad, from the past month at Orange Theory Fitness.

WHAT is Orange Theory?

Orange Theory is a 1-hour workout, sometimes they have 90 minutes classes and 45 minute classes, but the norm is 60. During this workout you will rotate from the rowing machines to weight room to the treadmill just like circuit training. The trainer is in there letting you know what to do, when to do it, and at what level of exertion. This is not your standard gym where you show up and spend 2 hours staring at yourself in the mirror, another hour talking to your friends, 5 minutes considering picking up a weight and then going home and posting on Facebook that you spent over 3 hours in the gym. That is not Orange Theory.

Heart Rate Monitors

Everyone in the studio has a heart rate monitor on. This shows you where you are by zone. Gray, Blue, Green, Orange, and Red. They say that you should have 12+ minutes in the orange/red. This is where you get your SPLAT points. Splat points are just the sum of the minutes you spend in the orange and red zones. Green is your recovery zone. There are large TVs on the wall that show your HR, Zone, Calories, and Splat Points. Yes, you can see how everyone is doing that is in the studio at that time. No, no one actually cares about anyone but themselves. You are working hard to get your burn. It’s so fast paced that you don’t even have time to worry about what anyone else is doing.

The STUDIO

The first thing I noticed when walking into the studio was that it encompassed only a small area at the end of a strip mall. When I walked in there was a desk, a small hallway to the bathrooms, some small lockers, and to the left a huge glass window into the “studio”. The studio was lined with 12 treadmills, 12 water rowers, some TVs on the wall, and at the end a setup of 12 weight stations. The weight stations had free weights, TRX bands, medicine balls, ab dollies, mats, and all the stuff you would need for a visit to the gym.

The BAD…. or not so great

We start with the bad because we always want to end on a good note. I really don’t have much to say about the bad other than the cost. You’re looking at about $60 for 4 sessions a month, $100 for 8, and about $160 for unlimited classes. Each class over your allowed number you will pay an extra $12-$15.

The class size is limited so that could be an issue at some studios, but I have never run into a problem getting a spot. I just go onto the app and make my reservation. You can’t just walk in any time and grab a spot. Well, that’s not entirely true. If you walk in and there is an opening they will throw you on the schedule. The Orange Theory I go to is equipped for 24 people per session. I have been there with 22, but never the full 24 and when I go to the 5 a.m. class there are WAY fewer.

Fast Pace

For beginners this may seem like chaos in a gym. There are a lot of things to do and the trainer is moving form the group in the gym to the group on the treadmills. You really have to pay attention to what the trainer is saying because he/she could be telling treadmills to stop and you stop or telling them to pick up the pace and you start slinging weights around. I have not seen that at my OTF, but with 120+ studios around the world I am sure there are some less attentive trainers. Every trainer at the OTF I go to will stop and make sure you understand the exercises and you are doing them right. They are very good at multi tasking. They also will spend time with you after a session to see if there is anything you have questions about. Don’t let the pace scare you away, but also make sure you take advantage of the knowledge the trainers will bestow on you. You can get hurt or aggravate an injury if you try too much too fast.

The points I have made as “bad” don’t really bother me. If you figure how much a personal trainer costs you are getting a pretty good deal. I pay $89 for 8 sessions. If my math is correct, usually it’s not so you may want to double check, I pay a little over $11 a session for 1 hour with a personal trainer.

The GOOD

The Staff and Trainers, at least at the studio I go to, are always pleasant. Even at the 5 a.m. class. The trainers are always upbeat and get you excited about getting in the gym. Before heading into the studio the trainer gathers everyone together in the lobby and explains what the plan is for the day. Then, he or she will go turn on the music and give everyone a high five or fist bump as we walk in and get started.

The Workout

The one thing I need when working out is some motivation. Orange Theory is no nonsense. You get in and get out and if you’re not half dead after 60 minutes you didn’t push yourself. I always start on the rowers and transition to the weights because that is where I am weakest and need the most energy. From there I goto the treadmill. Every workout is different. As of this post I have been to 12 sessions and none of them have been the same. I have worked muscles that I didn’t know existed and muscles that I would have never worked on my own.

Heart Rate Monitors

The heart rate monitors fit in both the good and bad for me since I am not a fan of the chest strap, but I do like looking up at the screen and knowing where I’m at on heart rate and calories burned. There is an option, which costs a little more to purchase, of a wrist band monitor. I’m a little skeptical on how accurate that is, but I see a lot of people with them.

60 Minutes

I love the fact that I’m in and out in an hour. Is there any reason you need to be in the gym for 3 hours? If that is your social outlet then I get it, but if you’re there to truly get a workout in, Orange Theory is the place for you. You get to know the others that come in. It’s no different than any other aspect of life. People have schedules so you will probably see the same people when you go because you are on that same schedule. There’s no chit chat or gossiping or headphones or cell phones or any of that while in the studio working out, but before and after you get to know people and socialize.

Social

I can’t speak for all Orange Theory locations on this, but ours is quite social outside the studio. I guess the “theory” is work hard play hard. The location I go to has a group who runs together to train for local races. There are social gatherings at local eateries so everyone can get to know each other outside of the gym. They do a lot of charity work and raise money for different organizations. It’s really like a family.

The Burn

They say that you will burn 500+ calories each session and I have found that to be true with me. Everyone is different. I have never really looked at the screen to see how many calories other people have burned, but I hit about 900 every session. I have been going for 1 month and I am already stronger, faster, and a little lighter.

Final Workout Summary

At the end of each class you go to the weight room to stretch and everyone’s numbers pop up on the screen. It shows how many minutes in each zone, your splat points, and your calories. This is all nice to see right then, but what about when you leave? You receive an email, within a few minutes of the workout being over in my case, with all your numbers. It’s fun to line them up and see how you did form workout to workout. It really shows how much effort you’re putting into it.

Below are some of my final stats over the past month…..

My wife and I are members of the Orange Theory Fitness in Fleming Island FL. If you’re in the neighborhood and would like to try a session let us know and we would be happy to accompany you. Anne and I have no stake in OTF. We do not own a franchise. All my opinions are — just that — my opinions.

Feel free to comment. I would love to hear your thoughts if you have been to OTF or if you are interested and have questions please ask.