Jacket: c/o Lole (it’s packable, so it squishes down into a little ball, which is perfect for shoving in your workout bag and for travel, too!) They have a bunch of packable jacket varieties but mine is called the “Emmeline.” I absolutely love Lole–they make really amazing, super versatile athletic and athleisure staples! Shirt: BP from Nordstrom. It’s only $39. It’s kind of a cross between a sweater and a tee. So it’s a staple in the fall, winter, and spring! I usually always shove it in my bag to throw on over workout tops (or over my sports bra/crop if I’m going to yoga!) It also comes in black! FYI, Runs big! Pants: Lululemon Align pants–I am OBSESSED with them. I’ve heard Zella makes a very similar pair that people rave about equally, but Zella’s are less expensive at only $54 so that’s a big win! (Shop more Zella leggings here!) Shoes: Allbirds (note I do NOT wear these to Orangetheory, I wear this pair of Brooks, but I will often change into Allbirds post-workout if I’m out and about because they’re comfier and way cuter than my running shoes! I really want the white ones, too!) Sunnies: Ray Ban (also come in the slightly smaller 50mm size) Tote: Madewell Transport Tote–it’s my go-to everything bag and it’s so roomy so it works especially great for the gym! (I have the OG brown leather version, but they have so many different varieties! I’m especially crushing on the new blush color. I really want the drawstring convertible tote-bucket version, too!) Hat: Abercrombie (old, but they have similar ones that are so cute!) I stand by the fact that they make the best-fitting baseball caps! Nordstrom also carries several cute caps like this one and this one, if that’s more your jam and you can’t get past rocking the A&F logo hat ?
Did you guys have a good weekend? (Holiday weekend, for those who celebrate!)
We had a great Easter with Neal’s mom’s side of the family. It’s always so much fun to get everyone together and catch up! Our cousins, Mandy and Bob are so generous to host the whole gang every year. It never fails to be a great time!
In case you’re like me and need to get your you-know-what back into gear after all the holiday indulging, this post is for you ?
I get SO many questions on Orangetheory and my experience with it. So I figured it was about time to do an in-depth post on my experience, results, and advice for those who are thinking about giving it a try!
(By the way, this is in no way sponsored–I pay for my own membership and they didn’t ask me to write this post, I just truly love this workout and so many of you are curious about it! Granted, even if it was sponsored, it would still be the same review ? I mean, you guys know how I roll.)
I’m also sharing one of my favorite athleisure outfits for those post-workout walks around the neighborhood ?
Ready? Let’s jump in!
My Orangetheory Fitness Review:
What Is Orangetheory?
First thing’s first, what is Orangetheory exactly? You’ve probably seen it everywhere, but how is it different than any other trendy workout that seemingly gained popularity overnight?
Orangetheory is different for a couple of reasons, but in short, it’s a 1 hour, full-body workout. Each day is a new workout, you’ll never have the same workout twice, and each day will vary focusing on either endurance, strength, power, or a combination of the two. You’ll never know what kind of day it is until you show up! Every class integrates running, rowing, and floor/weights, but how long you are on each and the order differs from class to class.
Heart rate monitoring:
Orangetheory’s workouts are based on the science of what they call “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.” Essentially, the goal is to maintain a target heart rate that stimulates metabolism and increases energy, referred to as “the afterburn.” In layman’s terms, it essentially means that you continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours post workout. We’ll get more into that in a second when we get into the “zones.”
Base, Push, and All-Out pace:
One of the coolest part of Orangetheory is that it’s truly as hard as you make it. You can power walk, jog, or run on the treadmill portion and there are three different levels of intensity:
This is kind of an active recovery/warmup pace–you can maintain it for a long time and if a friend was jogging next to you for example, you’d be able to hold a conversation.
This is pushing to yourself to the point that you are uncomfortable, you are too out of breath to carry on a conversation at length with the person next to you.
This is emptying all the gas in your tank–the hardest you’ll work all class. (Don’t worry, you never do this for more than a minute, and you always get to walk right after!)
Your trainer guides you through these different paces, and you always get breaks of walking every few minutes. Sometimes you’ll be running longer distances at push pace and base pace (on “endurance” days, for example) and other times it will be focused more on power and pushing yourself through short bursts of sprints. It really varies from day to day.
To go from pace to pace, runners and joggers will increase their speed, and power walkers will increase their incline. Yes, you can do the entire class at a power walk. (Keep in mind, you probably won’t burn as many calories this way, but you will definitely not be out of place if you want to power walk instead of run on the treadmills.)
Nobody is yelling at you (THANKFULLY):
Aside from the results I’ve seen and how much of a change I’ve experienced in my body, this is what I love most about Orangetheory.
It’s so different from the other high intensity “bootcamp” style workout classes I’ve ever taken (which I absolutely LOATHE) because nobody is getting in your face telling you that “you only have this one hour to make it count” or screaming things like, “LET’S GO, 4PM!!! LEAVE IT ALL ON THE TREADMILL!” Like, seriously? Get out of here! I want to respond with “Please get OUT of my face and I’m never coming back here!”
It’s nothing like that.
The trainers are very chill but know how to motivate you at the same time, without yelling at you.
If you’ve ever had a personal training session, it’s honestly very similar, but with more people in the class. Plus your heart rates on the board, which brings out your competitive side and makes it more fun. Nobody is competing with one another–it just makes you competitive with yourself.
The classes aren’t so big that you can’t flag down your trainer for help.
They do a really excellent job of monitoring everyone’s form to ensure they’re doing each move safely, and effectively.
While you’ll never have the same workout from one day to another, that day’s workout will be the exact same no matter the location or the class time. So you don’t have to worry about “oh, I don’t want to go today because I don’t like X trainer’s workouts” like you’ll deal with at other studios.
For example, if you and I both attend classes on Monday–you could go to the South Loop location at 6am and I could go to the Bucktown location at 6pm, and we will both go through the exact same workout. Make sense? Pretty cool, huh?
Also worth noting–if you are looking for a really trendy, boutique, bougie workout studio experience, this is NOT it. (At least not in Chicago). The class is not sporting the entire new arrivals section of Lululemon, and nobody running around in a sports bra and booty shorts in a full face of makeup.
There are men and women of all ages and all fitness levels. The only collective word I would use to describe them is “normal”. Just a bunch of regular people, working out. There are no state of the art locker rooms or Cowshed products at every sink. There are really no frills here, but I mean that in the best way possible.
The Orange Zone and Why It’s Important:
Like I mentioned, one of the coolest parts of Orangetheory is that everyone wears a heart rate monitor. It automatically displays what “zone” you’re in up on a big screen. So you can see everyone’s heart rate zones throughout class. Think of similar to a spin class, but you aren’t ranked. The point isn’t to make you feel bad about yourself. It’s to help you keep track of your heart rate to ensure you’re burning a lot of calories post-workout, as well as motivate you to give that little bit of extra effort.
You should be spending at least 12 minutes in zones 4 (orange) and 5 (red) combined to achieve the optimum “after burn” post-workout. (Don’t worry, this is definitely an easy goal to hit.) You’ll want to get into the Orange Zone with each Push Pace, and All-Out pace is where you’ll hit your red zone.
The total amount of minutes spent in the orange and red zone are referred to as “splat points”–I.E. you get a point per each minute, so you want to have at least 12. I typically get between 25-30 splat points per workout based on the workout and also how I’m feeling/how hard I’m pushing myself. It’s also not uncommon to get a higher amount when you first start out because your endurance is building up–additionally, remember that everyone’s heart rates are different. The zones are a guide, but are not an end-all, be-all–always judge based on how you’re feeling!
Orangetheory For Beginners:
One of the biggest fears I hear people have around Orangetheory is “will it be too hard for a beginner?” the answer is absolutely not. It’s great for beginners!
When I started I would definitely consider myself to be a beginner. I was doing power yoga a few times per week and BBG at home, but I’ve never run on a treadmill consistently or done any type of real strength training. (I had also never been on a rower.)
In my younger years I had run outside a lot, but hadn’t done so in years, and did not have good endurance.
Remember, Orangetheory is totally a set-your-own-pace workout. Being able to see your heart rate on the board really allows you to push yourself more than you would at a gym, but not so much that you’ll be overwhelmed. Like I said, you can power walk the whole time if you want! This is not one of those classes where you’ll stick out like a sore thumb as a first time student.
What to expect your first class:
You’ll need to arrive 30 minutes early, which they’ll tell you when you make the appointment. (Your first class is free!) The trainer will go over everything I covered above with you and also go over proper form for the rower. You’ll also stay after class where you’ll review your heart rate performance with your trainer.
Don’t go hungry:
I know everyone is different with this, but I find that I truly cannot do this workout well on an empty stomach. If it’s been awhile since your last meal, eat a snack beforehand. For example, I once went to a 12pm class and I hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch because it had been that kind of day, and I felt like I was going to throw up and faint on the treadmill–I had to walk the remainder of the class. You’re going to be burning over 600 calories, you absolutely need something in your stomach.
They definitely try to up-sell you at the end of class, so know that going in. With that being said, there is a high likelihood you are going to want to buy a membership or a punch card of some sort, because after one class it’s easy to see how effective it is. They are definitely totally fine if you say you want to think it over as well, and are super nice about it.
Two small things to keep in mind:
Wipe down your station: There are a couple wipes stations throughout the room, so make sure that when you’re done with each machine (treadmill, rower, and your floor station) that you wipe in down. You’ll notice that everyone else is doing this so it will be easy to remember.
Stick with your same number: Pay attention to the number on the station that you start at, and stay with your number for each block of class. That means, that if you start on treadmill number 9, you’ll go to rower number 9, and floor station number 9. Apparently some studios don’t do this, but most do–I actually took a class at the Portland, OR Orangetheory before my wedding and nobody adhered to this rule and it drove me CRAZY.
Other Orange Theory FAQ’s:
Is it safe for people with injuries?
Overall, yes, I often see trainers making modifications for those with injuries of all kinds. I also get asked frequently if the amount of running will hurt people with knee problems. I can’t speak for everyone and you should definitely seek out your doctor’s advice. However as someone with less than ideal knees, I can say that their treadmills are super nice and way easier on your knees/feet than running outside. Paired with the right footwear, I do not experience knee pain from OTF. (More on footwear below!)
How much running do you actually do?
The treadmill portion of the workout is typically around 20 minutes. Depending on how fast you run, it’s typically about 2-3 miles on average if you’re a jogger/runner. Like I said, you also get quite a few walking breaks in there, too. So it’s absolutely doable no matter what your fitness level!
How many calories to do you burn?
This really varies for everyone, but personally, I usually burn around 650. (Yesterday I got up to 685! Woo woo!) Essentially I burn like 3x as many calories as I would if I were doing BBG in my living room because I will NEVER push myself that hard on my own.
Are you so sweaty and disgusting that you can’t go to brunch after?
Haha! I get this one a lot. Honestly, everyone is so different. It really depends on how much you sweat in general and how hard you push yourself. I’m probably not a good gage because I really don’t sweat much in general, but I also have friends that are absolutely drenched afterwords.
I would say, bring a hat and a shirt to change into or throw on over your workout top afterwords and you can get by with going to brunch! I would also highly recommend spraying your hair with some dry shampoo (I love LivingProof which I reviewed more in depth here) beforehand and after to extend your hair!
Will my significant other like this workout?
I often hear from a lot of you who ALSO have a husband who is a workout fiend, who thinks that studio classes aren’t hard enough. (Cough. NEAL.) I am happy to report that Neal also really likes Orangetheory. He doesn’t go as often as I do. Although sometimes he does come with me to weekend classes. It’s one of the few workouts we can both do together. We can go at our own individual pace and feel like we got everything out of it we were hoping for. Whenever I go with him I always push myself twice has hard because I get competitive!
I have literally no idea what I’m doing, am I going to hurt myself or look stupid?
NO. Believe me. I still do so many moves wrong and my instructors are always quick to correct me in the nicest way that doesn’t make me feel like a complete idiot.
For example, I have recently discovered that I have some bizarre hip alignment, so often times I’m doing moves incorrectly. (Shout out to Sean, the trainer I take classes from most often at Bucktown–who now knows to look watch out for this specifically. He also reminds me that I am capable of using 15 pound weights when I decide to be lazy and use 10 pound ones! ?)
Also, if you’re worried about rowing–don’t you worry, because I also still look like a moron on the rowing machines and it takes a lot of concentration to be able to do it correctly, but it’s something we’ve been working on ?
Moral of the story: nobody cares. Nobody is looking at you or paying attention to what you are doing correctly or incorrectly, and the trainers are so nice, they will never make you feel stupid for not knowing how to do something, I promise!
How would you compare OTF to BBG?
Honestly, you can’t really compare the two. They are completely different things.
If you’re only wanting to tone up (not lose weight or build up your endurance) BBG is a good option, especially if you’re trying to save money. I do like the convenience of BBG, but I’m lazy, and I would never push myself as hard as I should’ve through the workouts.
If you’re the kind of person that can do that, it’s a really awesome workout! But half the time I would get through it once and be like “eh, I’m good!”
I was probably burning 200-300 calories with BBG on a good day, whereas with OTF, I burn 650. That’s more than double!
The combination of the interval running and floor is what makes OTF so effective, and that’s not something you’ll get with BBG, so for all those reasons, I would personally choose OTF every time, but it’s different for everyone!
The way I see it is that I’m going to dedicate an hour to working out, why would I not get the most effective workout possible out of that hour? That’s NEVER something I’m going to accomplish on my own, so that’s why I like OTF so much!
Orangetheory Fitness Results:
Now for the results. Unfortunately I don’t have any before or after photos. Also I honestly don’t even own a scale, but I’ve truly never been in better shape, even in high-school!
So I started OTF about 5 weeks before my wedding.
I noticed results in my body after just a few classes. You can honestly tell how well it’s working because you will be noticeably hungrier than normal. Your body is burning so many more calories it craves more!
In terms of pounds lost, its hard for me to gage exactly how much I lost right before the wedding. It’s hard to tell what is due to Orangetheory and how much of it was stress-induced because everything with our wedding went so horribly wrong just days before. Luckily, nothing hit the fan until the Tuesday beforehand, and at that point, I had already gone down a pant size in about 5 weeks from doing 4-5 days per week of OTF paired with very clean eating. (Keep in mind: this is a LOT of OTF, I’d say going 3 days a week is a really good average!)
From weighing myself at OTF the day I started to weighing myself on the scale the first day of our honeymoon, I had lost over 7 pounds, but I definitely equate that more to losing my entire appetite from stress for an entire week. ? (You can get the short version of everything that happened with the wedding in this post.)
I try to make it to OTF 3 times per week, lately it’s been more like 2 because of my busy schedule (which is definitely NOT taking advantage of my monthly unlimited membership), but even going just two days a week has been effective enough to maintain where I’m at currently, and I truly believe that 2 days of OTF is more effective than 5 days per week of half-assed working out by yourself at a gym.
I’ve also found that I am SO much stronger. I used to be an avid Corepower Yoga girl but I’ve gone a lot less since starting OTF just because of time. My first time back to yoga after the wedding I expected it to be insanely hard since I hadn’t gone in about two months, but it was actually the opposite, I was so much stronger that it improved everything from my posture to my balance to my ability to do upside-down poses that I hadn’t be able to master before!
What to wear:
People tend to wear whatever at Orangetheory. You’ll see people in cute workout outfits and you’ll see people rocking running shorts and their old college sorority t-shirts. Any regular workout top and pants combo will work great. I pretty much exclusively own yoga clothing and that works just fine. (Make sure you get a good sports bra though, because you’re really moving the whole class).
Like I said, it’s not bougie. So don’t worry about not “fitting in” or anything.
The one thing I will recommend is that you do get good running shoes.
I have really flat feet (ZERO arch). As a result, I don’t have great knees. I had to stop running outside because my knees would kill so bad and I would get horrible shin splints. I didn’t want to invest in an expensive pair of running sneakers at first because I didn’t know if I would stick with OTF long-term, but about a month ago, I finally invested in this pair of Brooks Adrenaline running shoes and they make a WORLD of difference. They are hands-down the ugliest shoes I own, but I no longer have any knee pain! ? (Shop more Brooks here!)
Costs & Memberships:
Pricing really varies based on what studio you belong to and its location. I know that it differs from state to state. So prime city locations will have higher costs than their suburban counterparts.
I pay $199 for an unlimited monthly membership. A twice-per-week membership runs around $149. Although I know you can also purchase a 5 or 10 class pass, for example. Also, I know my studio is one of the premium city pricing locations. So there’s a chance yours could be cheaper!
Keep in mind that you’ll also want to buy the heart-rate monitor. They vary in price based on what kind you get. I have the chest one that wraps around where your sports bra hits, and it works just fine. This is the cheapest option and usually you can get them to give you a deal on it. I think I paid $40?
If you think this is expensive, I will ask you one question.
How much are you willing to pay for the best body you’ve ever had?
Yeah. I think it’s worth it. Considering I would pay $100 a month for a gym membership I would never use, this seems like a pretty good deal.
Find an Orangetheory Near You:
You can find a big list of Orangetheory locations on their website. I go to the Wicker Park/Bucktown location, and obviously, can’t say enough good things! If you live in the area and want to check it out, I’d highly recommend Jessica, Sean, and Hakeem’s classes!
Need a good Spotify workout playlist? Check out my Best Spotify Playlists post.
New to running? Check out 5 Running Tips for Beginners
Do you have any more questions about Orangetheory? Feel free to leave them below!