This past week an OrangeTheory Fitness gym opened near where I live and my workout partner Michael decided to take a break from boxing class to try it out. As is typical of most new gyms the owner offered a free class – and because the gym was not officially open, I took two free classes.
The workout, which I will describe below, is intense and well structured but at this point I am going to stick with my existing alternate day workout at LA Fitness and Delgado Boxing. Here’s why:
The OrangeTheory workout was developed by a Florida based personal trainer and it consists of three components:
- treadmill training
- indoor rowing
- weight training
Each of these segments is broken down into two or three minute blocks of varying intensity. The treadmill part lasts 30 minutes and members alternate between a “base” pace, a “push” pace and a sprint pace. Users have control of where they set their base pace – for example, I chose the middle track (“jogger”) and set my base pace at 3.5 mph, my push at 4.5 mph and my spring at 5.8 mph.
Users wear a heart rate monitor and a large overhead screen shows the training zone you are in – blue is very light, green is moderate, yellow is hard and orange is very hard. These zones appear to be based on percentages of maximum heart rates for users based on weight and age.
The gym will email you a daily report meaning that you can track your improvement, which is a nice feature.
The indoor rowing was almost like a break between the treadmill and the weights. It will keep your heart rate up somewhat but is far less intense than the treadmill.
The weight training lasts about 20 minutes and it, too, is broken up in to 3 segments that use dumbbells or body weight. The gym was equipped with TRX like hanging straps.
The entire workout lasts an hour and in my case I burned close to 1,000 calories. According to the OrangeTheory website, the workout creates and “after burn” effect which will cause an increase in metabolism.
In the two morning sessions I attended, the clientele was overwhelming female, with most of the participants between 30 and 50. There was one head trainer and two assistants. The main trainer called out the different levels of exercise at one to three minute intervals while the assistants helped members find the right form.
In my view, the treadmill element of the workout was the most intense part. The weight training was of less value to me – I would prefer to focus on two or three exercises total, rather than nine or ten. Further, the weight benches were too short for me and not as stable as I would have liked.I also felt that the head trainer was stretched a little thin trying to oversee three different groups simultaneously. All of the trainers and assistant trainers were friendly, high energy people who seemed enthusiastic about their work.
Obviously the advantage to working within a system like OrangeTheory has to do with the motivation and structure offered by the trainers. OrangeTheory is extremely structured, which is a good thing as the time goes by quickly and users are always only a minute or two away from a working break.
The biggest issue for me has to do with price. The cost for a month of unlimited sessions comes to $169 and, for me, I can pretty much duplicate the workout at LA Fitness which costs me just over $20 per month. Perhaps my workout partner and I will lose a small degree of intensity, but, in my view, that is an acceptable tradeoff given the cost differential. Michael and I were able to approximate the treadmill and rowing machine workout at LA Fitness already and we chose a more traditional free weight workout that is probably typical of a male exerciser.
So, while I would rate the OrangeTheory workout as being very good, I’m not sure how great a value it is for individuals who are willing to self structure and who prefer a more traditional free weight routine.