What Is Orange Theory Fitness All About

Last week the new Orange Theory Fitness studio near me held its “preview” week with unlimited free classes for those who signed up in advance and had been stalking their Facebook page eagerly awaiting their opening since March. I managed to squeeze in three classes at three different times of day with two different instructors. So, what is Orange Theory Fitness all about?

what is orange theory fitness
I first heard of Orange Theory Fitness from Abby at BackAtSquareZero. I was excited when a new studio opened sort of close to my office last spring, but then I broke my foot and never got around to figuring out the logistics of that location. Several member of my Moms Run This Town groups are regulars at their local studios, and I was pretty sure I would love it as soon as I tried it out.

Orange Theory Fitness Classes

One great thing about Orange Theory Fitness classes is that no two are the same, although each class usually involves (i) intervals on a treadmill, (ii) rowing on a rowing machine and (iii) strength work with free weights, TRX straps, and other fun toys.

what is orange theory fitness

I’d never used TRX straps before, but now I know why so many people love them. They are so versatile–we’ve used them for pull-ups, pistol squats, chest presses, and more–and talk about working a muscle group to failure! 

what is orange theory fitness

Depending on the class size, there may be 1-3 groups rotating through different “blocks” of the workout. I’ve always started on the treadmill, but might start on the rowing machine for my 5:00 am classes. In the classes that had three groups we spent about 20 min on each area. In the class that had two groups we spend about 30 min on the treadmill and 30 min alternating between the rowing machines and strength workouts.

The Theory Behind Orange Theory Fitness

The “theory” behind Orange Theory Fitness is that if you can spend 12-20 minutes (total) in your “orange” heart rate zone (>84% of your maximum heart rate) you will burn calories long after your workout is over–with an increased metabolic rate for up to 24 to 36 hours. You use a heart rate monitor during class to monitor your effort, which you can check on the big overhead screens, and earn Splat Points for every minute you spend in your orange or red heart rate zones.

I am finding that it is really hard to get my heart rate into the orange zone for more than a few minutes during the 20-30 minute treadmill block. While my heart rate is pretty high when I run, it builds over time and stays in the “green” zone unless I really push my pace and/or the incline. 

I finally met my goal during my third class, but I had to use 7.3 or 7.5 mph as my “push pace” and 8.0 or 8.3 mph as my “all out” pace. That is just crazy fast for me (I usually opt for 6.5 or 6.7 mph on the treadmill), and I’m not sure I could do it during a 5:00 am class, when my body is just not ready for that level of exertion! 

While I’d like to go to Orange Theory Fitness twice a week, I plan to go once a week so I can keep running and spinning and still have some easier days in my schedule. Speaking of which, here’s my report for the Weekly Wrap hosted by Holly and Tricia.

Sunday: 60 min Orange Theory Fitness
Monday: 45 min indoor cycling
Tuesday: strength workout at home (mostly core)
Wednesday: 60 min Orange Theory Fitness
Thursday: 8 mile run in Central Park 
Friday: strength workout at hotel gym (mostly upper body and core)
Saturday: 60 min Orange Theory Fitness

Do you have a favorite studio class?

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46 Responses to What Is Orange Theory Fitness All About

  1. I’ve heard so many things about OTF–there is one close to my house. I need to try it!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…The Marathon as a Metaphor for LifeMy Profile

  2. Dying to try OT! Need to get to the one in Mt Vernon. My favorite studio class of course is indoor cycling but Body pump is a close second when I’m not personal training. Love running I’m Central Park!
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…Weekend Roundup – Fitness & EatsMy Profile

  3. Christine says:

    I’m dying to try Orange Theory. Rumor has it one is opening right across the street from where I live, but permits are taking a while to go through. I hope the rumor is true because I’d love to add it in one day a week for some strength/speed combo work!
    Christine recently posted…Weekly recap (5/9-5/15): Creativity, workouts and goalsMy Profile

  4. Karen says:

    I need to work on HR zone training, I stay in all out red all the time, when I am running no matter what pace I pick – it is strange lol
    I was so glad to see some sun this weekend, our rain/humidity here the past few weeks has been ridiculous!
    Karen recently posted…Marvelous MayMy Profile

  5. I tried it last summer a few times as well. I also found it hard to get into my orange zone as well but fun to try. I would love to add it into my routine but can’t find the time. Too many things to do!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Taking the ElliptiGo Out For A Test RideMy Profile

  6. Carla says:

    I love me as I NEVER HAD ANY IDEA WHAT IT WAS—and yet for some reason I never asked or hit up the goggles 🙂
    Apparently I was waiting for you to tell me.
    NOW Ill google to see where there is one in the ATX.
    Carla recently posted…5 Ways to Raise a Brazen Girl (or become a BRAZEN woman).My Profile

  7. Pam says:

    I’m taking my third OTF class this morning and find them to be a nice change from traditional classes. However, because I am only running 3 times a week, I am trying the bike today to see if I can continue going regularly. It is very invigorating and I certainly can see it being difficult for runners to get into the orange zone.
    Pam recently posted…Weekly Workout Roundup May 16thMy Profile

  8. I really need to try out OrangeTheory! I really like the concept and that it’s a different workout each time! I’m so jealous you got to run in Central Park – I did see your pics! It’s definitely one of my favorite places!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Weekly Wrap: Lots of Workouts and Cooking With QuinoaMy Profile

  9. I think that OTF is really great if you need a kick in the pants or to be taken out of your comfort zone. But the expense of it is pretty significant!
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Wanderlust 108 Chicago + Weekend RecapMy Profile

  10. Great review! I’m not too sure about OTF and whether that’s for me, so haven’t tried it yet. I prefer a more moderately paced workout.
    Michelle Rogers recently posted…How to make Maryland crab cakesMy Profile

  11. I tried an OTF class with Sue awhile back and enjoyed it. I just took a BLAST DC class yesterday – it’s pretty similar to OTF but I found it to be harder. It’s over in the West End so not too far from you. You should try it!
    Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC recently posted…Racing Weight: Some Real TalkMy Profile

  12. Thanks for explaining this. I always wonder what makes one fitness class different than the others.

  13. I don’t have OTF in my area (possibly an hour away in “the city”). SPOunds like a great challenge. I have never done any heart rate monitor training…..I’m curious what it would be like (I know a lot of people love it, and actually prefer it).
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…This past week? Victorious!My Profile

  14. Carmy says:

    I had my first OT class recently too. It was SUCH a blast!
    Carmy recently posted…Jump into Spring with MizunoMy Profile

  15. I tried OTF last month and loved it. I had to push crazy hard too and could barely reach the orange. I would love to take the classes regularly but the studios in my city aren’t conveniently located for me.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Weekend Recap – Tattoos, Beer & ShoppingMy Profile

  16. I don’t belong to a gym. I’ve heard about Orange Theory. And I’ve always wanted to try TRX, but we really have nowhere in our house where we could hang them!

    You were so lucky to have nice weather when you were in NYC. The weather has truly been crazy up here lately.
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Race week!: 5/9-15 Weekly WrapMy Profile

  17. There’s an Orange Theory close to my office that I’ve been dying to try. Thanks for the reminder!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…The Best Paleo Recipes for Every MealMy Profile

  18. No Orange Theory here in France. This country just isn’t into fitness the way the US is and it takes forever for things to come here. Crossfit hasn’t even taken off here.

    I can’t wait to run in Central Park in June.

    I have 2 more days of travel in May and a week in June and I hope that is it for a while. I am all travelled out.
    Karen – Fit in France recently posted…Weekly wrap : Life, fitness & fruitMy Profile

  19. Marcia says:

    OTF looks very cool! There’s one here just far away enough to be inconvenient. Plus I NEED my pool!
    Marcia recently posted…The Week That Changed EverythingMy Profile

  20. Jenn says:

    I love the idea of OTF. Unfortunately, the nearest one is about 30 minutes away from me, so it’s just not convenient, especially for how many times a week they like you to be there. I really want to try it but I’m scared I will go, fall in love and then spend hours of each week in the car, struggling to get it in. Boo.

    I currently love my vinyasa class.
    Jenn recently posted…weekly wrap: 5.8 – 5.14My Profile

  21. Annmarie says:

    I JUST tried my first OTF class the other day! I woke up super sick (probably shouldn’t have gone) and wasn’t able to finish the entire class but I can’t wait to go back and try again!!!
    Annmarie recently posted…Three Bean Mediterranean Salad {Gluten Free}My Profile

  22. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Orange Theory Fitness. I was invited to the preview week at their new Gainesville location, and wish that my schedule recently weren’t as crazy as its been. I would have loved to try it out!
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon Training Log – Week 15My Profile

  23. I first tried OTF last month and I absolutely LOVED it. I would like to include it into my regular workouts.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women Race RecapMy Profile

  24. Natalie says:

    My goal before the end of the year is to try OTF!! Sounds like a great workout and so much fun! Great job on the running and workouts last week! I can’t believe how much rain you guys got in DC!!

  25. I’ve been wanting to try one of these classes! I can’t get my ankle/knee healthy enough to get to it… hopefully in 3 months after this last treatment. Abby has had me curious for a long time.
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Things I’m Loving (and other randomness)My Profile

  26. So glad you have enjoyed OTF.
    I am back to going 2x a week.
    Before I got injured I was at a 6.3 base/7.5 push/9.0 all out in order to get my heart rate in the right zones. I counted it as a speed work day and it was really fast for someone who usually runs about a 10:30-11:30 easy run pace, but it was good to really push myself.
    I hope you continue to enjoy it.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…RACE THE LANDING 5K SERIES – RACE 2My Profile

  27. Great review- looks like you had fun with the new class! WE have one about 40 minutes away and I just can’t make it work. Like you said, there are so many favorites to work into one week!
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Book Review: Running- a love storyMy Profile

  28. HoHo Runs says:

    We have finally gotten an OTF here and it’s only a few miles from home. I thought it would be easy to get your HR in the orange zone by running on the TM. But, you’ve demonstrated that it will be very difficult! The Central Park pictures are lovely. I’ve run there once and would love to do it again. Thanks for linking with us Coco.
    HoHo Runs recently posted…Gateway to the Smokies (WW # 41)My Profile

  29. I so wish we had one in our town! Maybe one day! Thanks Coco for sharing this it does sound interesting!
    Tricia Vaughn recently posted…Weekly Wrap 41 Tennessee Adult AdventureMy Profile

  30. They just opened an OTF near me. I’ve wondered what it was all about. Looks like a challenging workout.
    Debra @HappyRunningSole recently posted…Weekly WrapMy Profile

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