Once upon a time I was a major Orange Theory junkie! I had two back to back pregnancies. Natalia and Peter are 17 months apart. After spending so much time feeling big and pregnant I was ready to lose some weight after Peter was born. Towards the end of my pregnancy Orange Theory Country Walk had opened so at 3 weeks postpartum I decided to check it out! For the record- Peter did not cause any tearing and the doctor cleared me to workout as soon as I felt ready.
Orange Theory is one of my favorite workouts! I was totally obsessed for some time! Orange Theory is where I fell in love with running. It was not love at first workout though. I actually walked out of my first class thinking that it would not work out because it involved too much running and I did not run. I eventually ran a full marathon and I share that whole story a previous blog post- How I went from not being able to run a mile to running a full marathon- Disney Style!
The idea behind Orange Theory is that you actually continue to burn calories after your workout if you spend enough time in the ‘Orange zone’. There is a science behind it. You wear a heart rate monitor and with bluetooth technology, there are screens where you can see where your heart rate is and what zone you are currently in. The treadmills also have a screen and they have the technology to pick up on who you are so it shows you your personal stats while you are working out. There are 5 zones as follows:
- Zone 1 Grey: You are in this zone when you are just standing around or resting. This is likely where your heart rate is at most of the day. When you walk into class you’ll be in the Grey zone.
- Zone 2 Blue: You will enter the blue zone as you start warming up. You are doing more than just standing around but you aren’t in a full blown workout yet.
- Zone 3 Green: This is your base pace and where you want to spend most of your workout. You are working out but still feeling comfortable.
- Zone 4 Orange: This is where you start to get uncomfortable! In order to activate the after burn so you continue to burn calories post workout, you want to spend at least 12 minutes here. Minutes spent in the orange (and red) are referred to as splat points so by the end of the workout you want to have 12 or more of these splat points so you can continue to burn calories.
- Zone 5 Red: You shouldn’t be spending too much time in this zone. This is when you are totally pushing yourself and completely out of breath. You should really only be in the red zone during an ALL OUT.
You walk into any orange theory studio to find it a little dark and it’s lit up with orange lights. The studios are divided into 3 sections:
- Treadmills: Obviously these are for running and/or walking! Haha If you do not want to run, power walking is an option. Instead of using speed, you would use inclines to bring your heart rate up. On the treadmill is usually where you will focus on moving your heart rate in and out of the different zones- mainly green and orange. When the coach tells you to be at your base pace you want to have your heart rate in the green zone. When they tell you to go at a push pace, this is where you will bring your heart rate up to the orange zone. When the coach prompts you to go ALL OUT this is where you empty the gas tank. You should not be able to hold this pace for more than a minute. If you can, you are doing it wrong.
- Rowers: On the rowers you will usually combine rowing with some kind of exercise whether it be something with weights, body weight or plyometrics. Sometimes they will also guide you on here as far as moving from base pace to push pace, however, usually you aren’t purposefully moving in and out of zones here as you do when you run. Nonetheless, you will definitely have a chance to earn some splat points here.
- Weight Room: Here is where you will lift some weights and sometimes you will also do body weight movements as well as plyometrics. If your heart rate goes into the blue zone while you are in the weight room, that is totally normal since here your focus is on strength training rather than cardio.
There are 4 types of workouts you can expect to have at Orange Theory:
- Endurance: Endurance workouts are usually going to have a focus on longer running blocks where you are not given as many chances to catch your breath as you may in other workouts. In the weight room you can expect to see higher rep counts at lower weights.
- Strength: Strength workouts are meant to build strength so on the treadmill rather than going for speed you will use inclines to get your heart rate into that orange zone. In the weight room you can expect to see lower rep counts but with higher weight.
- Power: Power workouts include more explosive movements. On the treadmill you will be prompted to go all out more often but you will also see more walking breaks. In the weight room a power workout will call for plyometrics and explosive movements with weights. This was always my personal favorite!
- ESP: This stands for Endurance, Strength and Power! In an ESP workouts you will see aspects from all 3!
While the studios are split up in 3 sections the way you cycle through them can vary. Sometimes you’ll spend a whole block on the treadmill, a whole block in the weight room and a whole block on the rower. Other times you will do what is called a ‘switch class’ where you will switch from station to station various times throughout the class. There is even a type of class called a ‘tornado’ where you will spend 1 minute at each station pretty much going all out. There are also ‘run to row’ classes where you will switch from the treadmill to the rower within the same block of work. As you can see, there is all kinds of terminology that goes with being an Orange Theory member! It may seem confusing if you have never done the workout but I promise if you decide to join a studio you will eventually learn!
They also will have different events and challenges to make it more interesting and fun. Big moments for me was when I would manage to get on the leader board in class, finishing Hell Week and earning the coveted Hell Week shirt or the Dri-Tri which is an event they put together to simulate a dry triathalon- rowing, body weight movements in the weight room and a 5K on the treadmill to finish it off!
- You will always get an amazing workout and if you do not hold back and you do the workout as intended, you can always expect major calorie burn
- I can be very black and white. I know this is not a good thing because life is grey (my dad always tells me this!) but it’s who I am. I like that with orange theory you have numerical proof that you had a good workout. You either achieved your 12 splat points or you did not. You never leave wondering if you should have pushed harder.
- I mentioned in My Review on CrossFit how I do not see as much weight loss and movement on the scale when doing CrossFit. If your main goal is to lose weight and you are not interested in building strength, Orange Theory is the workout for you! As I mentioned, I started here after 2 back to back pregnancies. Like any new mom, I did not think I would ever see my pre- pregnancy body or weight every again. To my surprise, not only did I achieve my pre- pregnancy weight and size but I actually went back down to the size I was in college! This is something I had given up on even before having children!
- Like most group fitness classes, I found there was camaraderie in the classes and a great community of supportive people…especially in the early morning classes! I guess I cannot speak for afternoon classes though since I rarely went in the afternoons but I absolutely loved the 5Am and 6Am crowd!
- It’s actually quite cool to see how your endurance improves if you stay consistent! You will find after a few weeks that you’ll need to run a little faster in order to hit that orange zone. I’ll never forget the first workout when I had to change my base pace to a running pace or my heart rate would come down to low to get the appropriate amount of splat points.
- Anyone at any age and at any fitness level can do orange theory. How hard you go during your workout depends on your fitness level and on how much energy you need to exert in order to get your heart rate to the proper zone. I would see teenagers here as well as adults well into their retirement years! People who are just starting their fitness journey love orange theory, people who have worked out their whole lives love it and so does everyone in between!
- When you are an Orange Theory member you can attend any gym, anywhere! Although I was usually at Country Walk, I did visit the Dadeland location a few times! I also went to a studio in Siesta Key which was super cool because the class was full of people from all over the country! It was interesting to see how having this in common brought us all to the same room, at 7 AM, while on vacation! I’m telling you- it can become an addiction!
- Unless it was a signature workout (more terminology! Haha these are specific workouts you can expect to do every 6 months or so) I do not recall repeating workouts. I usually came into class not knowing what to expect so for some time, I did not get bored.
- While I just mentioned that I do not recall repeating workouts, at the same time you are always on the treadmill, rower and weight room and there isn’t variance from this.
- Piggy backing off of that- you will see more variety if you are in a 2 group class, however, if the studio classes get packed they will put you in 3 groups instead and in this case you can forget doing things like run to rows or switching around much. During the time I did Orange Theory I actually tended to lose interest and start looking for different types of workouts in January when the New Year’s Resolution Crowd would flood the classes and we were in 3 group classes most days.
- As you may have picked up on, this is mostly cardio. While I know my endurance improved significantly and there is no doubt that orange theory made me enough of a runner to run a full marathon, I do not feel I got stronger or really built muscle. I only got skinnier.
- You can lose weight with Orange Theory but your nutrition does need to be decent! I was pretty good about it during my time there, however, I do know people who felt Orange Theory made them so hungry that it was hard to eat reasonable portions and they actually gained weight. They felt a workouts that burned less calories but allowed them to eat smaller portions and be satisfied was more beneficial.
- Unlike smaller gyms, Orange Theory has to follow corporate’s rules. When mask mandates were in place in Miami Dade, they were not flexible on this and made everyone workout with a mask on. This is a HARD NO for me. I was able to get myself out of my pre COVID membership by reminding them that when I signed my contract wearing something on my face while working out was not part of the deal, however, now that I know it’s a possibility I am scared to sign any contract with them until this craziness blows over.
As always, feel free to reach out with any questions! Orange Theory is yet another subject I LOVE talking about!
Thanks for visiting!