I first heard about Orange Theory in Southern California. After doing a little research, I discovered they were rapidly expanding across the country with over 250 locations! This group interval training class incorporates both treadmills and indoor rowing machines with strength training exercises, all while wearing heart rate monitors that display your heart rate and HR zone on a large screen for the duration of class. While visiting Miami last weekend, I was able to finally try it myself!
Your first class is free, so I called up and made a reservation Saturday morning. The class was full but they told me to come in and would try to get me in. Once I arrived, the front deskers handed me a Polar chest strap to put around my torso. The instructor brought myself and the other first timers into the studio to show us how to use the treadmill and rowing machine.
If you can’t tell by the pictures and name, Orange Theory is lit with orange light bulbs.
“The physiological theory behind the Orangetheory workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. By providing you with a heart rate monitor and POD, we can monitor your 5 zone interval training sessions that we call the Orange 60. During the 60 minute workout, you will perform multiple intervals designed to produce 12-20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate, which translates to Zones 4/5. This program design produces EPOC, which is the workout “after-burn” effect, meaning that our interval training design produces a 200-400 calorie increase to your metabolism 24-36 hours after your workout.
However, judging by the results of my class, I think it should be called, Green Theory since that was the zone most of us were in the majority of the time…
At the start, I was given a Polar sensor to attach to my chest strap. I started on the treadmill at a warm up pace. Half of the class was on the rower and half were on the treads. We all went at an easy pace for about 5 minutes mixing between a slow jog and fast run, alternating each minute. I felt like the treadmill was slower than the speed indicated but I liked the treadmill interface which made it easy to switch from a fast to slow speed with the touch of one button. I tried hard to get into the orange zone, but it just didn’t happen.
After the warm up, the rowers went over to the free weight and bench area. My group moved to the rowers. We were told to row 400 meters as fast as we could, then hop up to our treadmill and run as far as we could with the time remaining in the five minute interval. 1…2…3… GO!
We did this interval four times, adding incline to the last couple of treadmill runs. The instructor gave out many different recommendations for speeds during the beginning of class for beginners which was good to see.
Next, we swapped with the free weight area people. On the floor, we saw three moves up on a separate screen from our heart rates. They were simple and beginner friendly. We were told to do 15 reps of each move, and once we finished start from the top. We were aiming to get through between 2 and 4 sets. The first round exercises used a TRX and were a little beginner for my me. We had about 5 minutes per round. We had 4 different rounds featuring 3 different exercises. The exercises were always displayed on the screen except the last set which was helpful however I’m curious if the screen usually displays your heart rate which we couldn’t see during the workout. The moves hit most body parts and the last focused on core. We did exercises like bicep curls, reverse lunges, plank walk outs, and russian twists. At the end, our final calorie burn was displayed and a graph showing what zones we were in during our workout (image above).
What I liked:
- The class has a nice learning curve. Beginners shouldn’t be intimidated. My instructor provided modifications where needed.
- I really liked the music!
- The instructor knew what he was talking about, looked VERY in shape and not bad to look at either. His name was Juan but is on the schedule as Juanster.
- After class, my heart rate summary was emailed right to me for future tracking. It was fun to watch it during the rowing and running portion of class.
- Moves were safe and effective, easy to learn. Directions were clear.
Areas I think they could improve on:
- The instructor wasn’t very vocal about intervals, when to switch and when to stop. Kind of quiet and I didn’t feel inspired to push myself. I heard my instructor say start and then the encouragement stopped there. We were left to push ourselves while staring at our heart rate overhead. I would have liked more intervals on the treadmill with countdowns and all.
- Kind of on the beginner side of things and neglected the more advanced clients, but this may be due to the demographic of Coral Gables, not necessarily the instructor. However, I do think it’s important to give advanced modifications as much as for beginners.
- Pace of class felt slow. We moved slowly from one circuit to the next and had a lot of rest time in between.
The rower was hard for me but once I got on that treadmill, I couldn’t get fast enough to get my heart rate actually pumping hard despite running at 9 for 2.5 minutes. Their class recommends your sprint as being 2 points faster than a jog. I can sprint at a 12.5 but my jog max is a 7. I know Barry’s has conditioned me but I swear the tread was slower than what it read out. I ran at a 10 for a minute which I rarely do at home and finally saw my heart rate rise! I missed countdowns and motivation to run faster but it was also peacefull being able to go at my own pace.
I was glad I ran into the founder of Rate Your Burn (who also gave me my first review – holy nerves knowing she was in class) last week to hear her thoughts on Orange Theory. While she has yet to take a class, she mentioned that she heard it was supposed to be more like a CrossFit hybrid which I hadn’t thought about! During the class, I kept comparing it to Barry’s Bootcamp but now I feel like I shouldn’t have. I have yet to experience a REAL CrossFit class because the ones I always take are 15 minutes of actual work and 45 minutes of stretching… but I can see how OTheory is like a mix between CrossFit and Bootcamp with Polar HR tracking.
I liked the class. I didn’t love it because I didn’t feel personally pushed enough on the treadmill or floor but with another instructor, location or class time, that might change.
They now have locations all over Massachusetts and soon in Back Bay. I’m looking forward to giving it another shot.