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Seriously, Why Is Everyone SO Obsessed With Orangetheory?

Kristine Thomason
Photo credit: Orangetheory Fitness

From Women's Health

Maybe you've passed by a local Orangetheory studio, heard a friend RAVE about the workout, or even seen the fitness company featured on season 3 of Queer Eye-and wondered: What's the deal?

You know there's a lot of orange decor, possibly a heart rate monitor, and tons of sweat-but is this popular workout worth trying?



What is Orangetheory, exactly?

"Each Orangetheory class is a one-hour group fitness experience, with a different workout each day," says Shantira Higgins, NASM-certified personal trainer and Orangetheory coach. And each session includes both cardio and strength training.

What makes Orangetheory unique is that before your first class, you're given a heart rate monitor to wear throughout your workout. "During class, your data will be displayed on screens around the room, which will show you how many calories you’ve already burned, and which heart rate zone you’re currently in," says Higgins. "This feedback will help you pace and track your workout, plus allow your coach to provide guidance."

Photo credit: Orangetheory Fitness

But what are those "zones" exactly? Orangetheory focuses on five different heart rate zones. During workouts, you'll aim to stay in three of them: "Zone 3," or the green zone, which is meant to be challenging but doable; "Zone 4," or the orange zone, which should feel uncomfortable; and "Zone 5," or the red zone, which should be an all out effort. These zones are different for every person, and calculated for you before class.

What kind of workout should you expect?

Approximately half of each class is focused on cardio, which includes intervals on the custom Orangetheory treadmills and WaterRowers. "When you’re on the treadmill, your coach will cue you through intervals, calling out speed recommendations for runners and joggers, and incline options if you opt to power walk, instead" says Higgins. If treadmills just aren't for you, there's also options to use stationary bikes or striders (similar to ellipticals).

The second half of class focuses on strength training. Depending on the workout that day, you may use TRX straps, benches, free weights, resistance bands, BOSU trainers, or AB Dollys, says Higgins. "Before you start your floor work, your coach will demonstrate each exercise, and then while you’re working, there are TV screens with coaches demonstrating the movements, as well as cues for how many sets and reps to do of each," she adds.

Your Orangetheory coach will also help you choose the right weights for you, and consistently check your form and technique, to make sure you're safely and effectively performing each exercise.

Do you need to have fitness experience before taking Orangetheory?

Absolutely not! "One of the greatest parts of the Orangetheory workout is that it truly is designed for every fitness level," says Higgins. "I’ve coached everyone from my grandmother, to first-time gym-goers, to Super Bowl athletes. Your Coach is trained to make sure you’re performing the movements safely, so don’t feel like you need any sort of gym background."

Photo credit: Orangetheory Fitness

And while those treadmills may be a deterrent for any non-runners, as mentioned, there are other ways to get your cardio fix: Opt to power walk, ride a bike, or choose the strider. "I’ve done all three during workouts, and the cardio can be just as tough as running on the treads," says Higgins.

What kind of Orangetheory results can you expect?

Higgins says there are so many great benefits of Orangetheory classes. For starters, "one of our focuses during the workout is to help you earn your 'afterburn,' which is scientifically known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC," she says. To achieve this "afterburn," your coach will use your heart rate data to help you reach the orange and red zones for at least 12 minutes of class. "The idea is, if you can work hard and get uncomfortable for just 12 or more minutes during your workout, you’ll reap the benefits of increased calorie burn for the next 36 hours," explains Higgins.

And beyond major cal-burn, Higgins notes that you'll also build muscle and promote overall functional strength, thanks to that 30-minutes of strength-training per class. She adds that, "increasing muscle will also help you burn more calories throughout the day! So, in addition to the afterburn, you’ll also benefit from extra calories burned on the daily."

What should you wear to an Orangetheory class?

"Like any high-intensity workout, it's important that you wear clothing you can move and sweat in," says Higgins. "Comfortable, moisture-wicking fabric is perfect. Whatever you might wear running or to the gym should do the trick."

And, perhaps most importantly, grab a pair of solid sneakers. Here are a few great options to choose from:


Okay, but how much does Orangetheory cost?

There are Orangetheory locations all over the country, and the rates and fees vary by studio. But good news, your first session is free!

That said, all studios offer three different membership options. Here's what you can generally expect of Orangetheory prices:

  • Orange Basic – 4 classes per month ($59)
  • Orange Elite – 8 classes per month ($99)
  • Orange Premier – Unlimited class per month ($159)
  • One-off class - $28

Contact your local studio to learn about their rates and offerings. (You can find an Orangetheory class near you, here.)

Pro tip: Plan to show up early for your first Orangetheory class

Higgins recommends coming 30 minutes before your first class begins so you can meet your coach, learn more about the equipment, and get set up with your heart rate monitor. Oh, another pro tip from Higgins: Not every location has sweat towels, so bring your own, along with a water bottle.

After class, "you might want to hightail it out of there to take a sweaty post-gym selfie and a shower," she jokes. "But it's just as important to stay for the flexibility portion of the class. Your coach will guide you through stretches, and make sure you have an effective cool-down."

Lastly, once you've conquered your first class (congrats!), plan to stay afterward to chat with your coach. "They'll explain your workout summary and what all the numbers, colors, and zones mean," says Higgins. "Based on your goals and current fitness routine, your coach will give you recommendations for your next class and how to continue to achieve your fitness goals."

No go forth, and get in the zone!

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