A while ago I mentioned that I had signed up for OrangeTheory Fitness, since a new studio was opening in my neighbourhood and I was looking to try something new. It opened for a two week trial period just after we got back from Florida, so that worked out very conveniently. Since the summer I have been less active and giving less of a crap about what I’m eating so the pounds were accumulating and I feel like once we arrived in Florida everything caught up to me and I just BALLOONED.
At least, that’s how I felt. So I was excited to have something to motivate me upon our return.
OrangeTheory is relatively new to Canada but has been around in the US for a few years now. I have seen several bloggers mention how much they love it so it’s been on my radar for a while and back in the summer I started looking around for a studio that would be convenient for me to get to.
One day on Facebook an ad popped up for an OrangeTheory that was opening in my area offering two free trial weeks and a discounted monthly rate (called the founders rate), so I immediately jumped on that and signed up. It’s still pricy even with the founders rate, so I initially signed up for 8 classes a month – I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it enough to go for the unlimited package. But I FREAKING LOVE IT. I can’t say I’ve loved many workouts in the past (or any workouts really) so I’m surprised at how much. I love it so much that I’m planning on switching my membership to unlimited because I don’t feel like going twice a week is enough – I actually want more!
OrangeTheory is basically group personal training. The studio space is dimly lit with orange tinted lighting and has treadmills (and they are fancy ones with fans which makes me so happy!), water rowers, and then a free weights section with benches, TRX straps and bosu balls.
Each day is a different workout and focuses on endurance, strength, power, or all three (called an ESP day). An instructor leads the class through a workout rotation on the treadmill, indoor rower and weights and offers form correction, demonstrations, encouragement and cues.
So for example, my first day was an endurance day and we first spent about 25 minutes on the treadmills running (or power walking if you’re not a runner) at different paces – your personal base pase, which is an active recovery, push pace, and an all-out pace, with a walking recovery after each all-out.
For the next 3o minutes we did sets of rowing followed by a series of weights and TRX exercises. I HATED HATED HATED the rower at first and I found it so extremely hard and thought I would just suck at it forever, but I’m actually getting better and find it motivating to see my improvement! Though I still don’t love it. My class tomorrow is rumoured to have a 2000m row so I’m definitely not looking forward to that. I might die.
Each workout ends with a five minute stretch.
The weights part of the workout is crossfit-esque in my experience but the difference is everyone is focused on their own workout and no one is paying attention to you. What I didn’t like about crossfit is that once people finish what they’re doing they tend to watch and cheer you on, and although it’s supposed to be motivating and encouraging, I would prefer to not have people looking at me while I’m doing my flailing version of burpees. I like that this is more anonymous.
What I also really enjoy, and what I think is the most motivating for me, is that everyone wears either a chest or wristband heart rate monitor, which you buy from the studio (or you can bring your own as long as it works with their equipment). I bought the wristband monitor from them as I don’t trust my chest to not mess around with the chest strap, dem nungas be pesky. During your workout you are trying to push yourself hard enough to maintain certain heart rate percentages (like your push pace on the treadmill). Heart rate levels are represented by colours and the “orange theory” is the idea that you are trying to spend parts of your workout in the “orange zone,” which is 84%-91% of your maximum heart rate. You earn a “splat point” for every minute you spend in the orange or red zones, so basically you get a splat point when you are really busting your ass.
Our instructor said that ideally you’ll spend most of your workout in the green zone and about 12-20 minutes in the orange or red zones. Everyone’s heart rate levels and splat points are displayed on a monitor and I find this seriously motivating because I can see exactly how hard I’m working. It has encouraged me many times to push myself because I’ll notice my heart rate isn’t in the orange zone yet so I’ll bump up my treadmill speed and give ‘er a bit more.
I’ve even worn the heart rate monitor for my own treadmill workouts at the gym (using the OTBeat app) and I’ve noticed that my usual pace has my heart rate at like 75% my entire workout so I haven’t been pushing myself like I thought I was. Now that I can monitor this I’m making myself go a lot faster and I notice my running endurance increasing more quickly than it has in the past. And obviously I’m getting a better workout.
Each OrangeTheory class I’ve participated in has kept me engaged and interested, I think because we are switching it up all the time. If I push myself really hard and I start feeling like I’m going to die (happened a few times) I know that we’ll be moving on in a minute and I’ll be doing something else. Also, if you go definitely bring a towel – I have never been so sweaty during a workout!
Another favourite thing for me is when you’re finished your workout, your stats are emailed to you. Mine arrive in my inbox before I even get in my car to leave.
That was a big treadmill day. When it’s a day with more weights and rowing and less treadmill my stats are a bit different.
But the best is the way I feel after I’m done, like I’m a SUPER badass. During the workout I may have moments where I feel like I’m going to die, but they’re brief, and afterwards it is so worth it for that feeling.
Sometimes I feel like strutting for the rest of the day.
So, I’m loving OrangeTheory. I am the type of person who gets intimidated by new workouts and gyms but I am so glad I checked this out. I hope in a year from now I’m still as interested!