I’d heard about Orangetheory Fitness for months – possibly years? – from friends in the States, and I’d always said that when I had the opportunity to do it, I’d give it a try.
Well, as I was driving up to my brother’s house in Phoenix (where I’m staying for the Christmas holidays), I noticed the telltale “splat” logo just across the street – literally a 5-minute walk away. It was go time.
I knew bits and pieces about the Orangetheory format from friends who’d attended; from what I heard, it was a lot like the Barry’s Bootcamp classes I used to attend in L.A. – interval circuits of cardio and weights, alternated for maximum heart rate and calorie burn. Seeing as this is how I train the majority of my clients, I admittedly love the idea.
When I walked into the location, I was warmly greeted and given a heart rate monitoring strap – helpful, given that the entire “theory” behind the place is that you should stay in the “orange” working zone (85-89% of max HR) for 12-20 minutes of the 50+ minute class.
The trainer walked me into the room, helpfully explained how the class would work, and set the 18 of us (!) free on the combination of treadmill running, rowing, and weights that would comprise our ESP (endurance, strength and power) workout.
I started on the treadmill/rowing interval set, which comprised of:
- .5 miles at a running pace (1% incline) / 100m row
- .35 miles at a fast running pace (3% incline) / 250m row
- .15 miles at an all-out sprint pace (5% incline) / 400m row
- .15 miles at an all-out sprint pace (10% incline) / 250m row
- .35 miles at a fast running pace (3% incline) / 100m row
Heart rate sufficiently blasting in my throat, I moved on to the three-part strength series, which progressed from two dumbbells to one dumbbell to no dumbbells, as follows:
- 10X squat-press / 20X bench jump-overs / 20X twisting mountain climbers on Bosu
- 10X overhead triceps press / 10X single-arm plank row / 10X toe tap crunches
- 12-14-16 reps of the following: TRX biceps curls / TRX bridge rows / Bosu plank jacks / single-arm overhead crunches
After completing both series, we had about a 3-minute stretch and cooldown and were sent on our merry way, with “the board” bearing our overall results (disclosure: I spent 20 minutes in the orange zone and 32 in the green zone, which was apparently ideal for the purpose of the ESP class, and I burned 669 calories overall).
This type of training is not only challenging but encourages a 36-hour afterburn, an effect that occurs only when training is completed at 70-85% of MHR – which, of course, is the entire Orangetheory concept.
All in all, I loved the workout – the intensity was adjustable to several levels (if you aren’t down with the full-on sprints on the treadmill, there were walking, elliptical, and bike options; the dumbbell stack went from 5 to 20 pounds), the music was spot-on (a mixture of high-tempo Christmas carols and Top 40 dance hits, which I loved) and the vibe was positive, energetic, and encouraging – in fact, I’ve already signed up for my second ($28, hoo boy) class tomorrow morning.
If you’re looking for something to give you HIIT-style intensity, PT-style attentiveness, and SoulCycle-style energy, Orangetheory is exactly that – and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to build fitness, lose weight, or just have fun working out over the holidays.
Have you ever tried a maximum-intensity group circuit class like this? What did you think?