Workout review: Orangetheory

I’m staying in Atlanta for most of this week, so trying out Orangetheory Fitness was a must on my list after reading about it on well+GOOD. And, after the hour-long workout and 461 burned cals later, I’m glad I did. Totally worth the three (four) Uber drivers that couldn’t find the location to pick me up later that day.

What is Orangetheory? 

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1. It’s a company that launched in Florida in 2010 with a workout concept that combines treadmill intervals, water rowers, strength training (using weights, TRX systems and medicine balls) and abs in a 60 minute workout.

2. It’s designed to maximize the effect known as afterburn (formally known as EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). It sounds more complicated than it is. Just know that high-intensity training sessions force the body to work harder and longer to build its oxygen stores back up resulting in more calories burned than if you’d exercised at a lower intensity for the same or even longer period of time.

3. You wear a heart rate monitor during class so that you can see your heart rate zones on a screen as you work out and keep track of how hard you’re working and pushing yourself. The goal is to work out as much as you can in the “orange” and “red” zones. The orange begins at 84% of your max heart rate (subtract your age from 220). Everyone has their own max heart rate and therefore their own orange zone.

My experience:

When I first arrived (they ask that you arrive 30 minutes early for your first session), the class instructor, Alana, walked me through the heart rate zones and gave me a tour of the studio. She was super helpful and very clear in her description. 

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At 8:45 a.m. on the dot class began. Half the class starts on the treadmill and half with the weights. My first “learn as you go” experience started with finding my “base” pace and “push” pace. Base should be a pace that you can keep up for 25 minutes. Push is when you start to feel uncomfortable and wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation. Sprint is obviously all out. Alana led us through intervals based on those paces. The more you go Orangetheory, the better you’ll get at pushing yourself. It took me a few rounds to figure out what speeds I should be running.

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After 10 minutes on the treadmill, we switched over to the weights. We did circuits of single-leg bench squats and pause squats 10 minutes. Then, it was back to the treadmill for a different round of intervals. The back to the weights for something new. Rinse and repeat for approximately 50 minutes. We then did water rowing intervals for five minutes, which is one of my favorite full-body workouts you can do. The last five minutes we hit the mat for abs which included planks, scissors and sit-ups.

After class, you get emailed a rather detailed report of your workout, including how many calories you burned and how long you spent in each zone.


  • Expensive? Kind of. Single classes are $34, but packages are much more reasonable.
  • The pros: Class-like environment that also caters to the individual in that you are in control of how fast you run and how much weight you lift… Love seeing how much I’m really maxing out my heart rate in real time on a big screen… The mix of “cardio” and “weights” really gives you a full-body workout… Every class is different in its mix of treadmill usage and weight-based exercises… It’s hard to plateau because as you get better, your base, push and sprint speeds increase! (<<< my favorite part)
  • The cons: None that I found! However…

Can’t you do interval-based treadmill running on your own? And can’t you lift weights on your own? Yes and yes. If you love taking classes, being held accountable by a teacher, and letting tangible numbers lead the way for how hard you work, then this is for you. Otherwise, you can get away with a set of barbells, a trusty old treadmill and a commitment to intervals for 60 minutes for the same workout.




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