Today we’re talking fitness. While I am now quite an active person and workout roughly 5-6 days a week, I wasn’t always like that. But I do completely credit my love and appreciation for exercise to Orangetheory Fitness.
To put things into perspective, many people make the assumption that I learned to workout from my experience of being in the Army Reserves for eight years…wrong. They don’t exactly teach you how to enjoy working out so much as they force you to run until you vomit. And no, I’m totally not kidding either. That’s actually part of how I developed a slight eating disorder after going to bootcamp and lost about twenty pounds. This was only because I refused to keep throwing up since they made us run immediately after every meal, so I pretty much just stopped eating.
But trust me, there are much more effective ways of getting fit. And becoming an avid Orangetheorist (as I like to call us) is one of them. It’s pretty much the only gym I’ve ever referred anyone to, including my last two roommates in Seattle who ended up joining and loving it too!
Looking for a bomb at-home workout instead? Read my blog, “A Fun Workout Class You’ll Become Totally Obsessed With: The Peloton.”
Table of Contents
|My Reason for Choosing Orangetheory Fitness|
|What is Orangetheory?|
The Workout Explained
Endurance Vs. Strength Days
A Workout For All Skill Levels
|A Few Considerations|
|Try For Free|
My Background with Orangetheory Fitness
I joined my first Orangetheory Fitness gym in January 2020. I had just moved to Renton, Washington and was starting my first full-time job in Seattle. My new apartment gym wasn’t exactly a space you could consider much of a gym, only having two super old treadmills, an elliptical, a couple free weights, and one of those cable pulley weight machines. And while I considered joining the Lifetime Fitness, there was only one nearby location about a half hour away in Bellevue. That may not seem far, but take into account the crazy amounts of traffic and that makes it roughly an hour before or after work.
Location, Location, Location
After looking into my neighborhood Orangetheory Fitness gym, which was less than ten minutes away, I soon discovered there were a ton of studio locations in pretty much every nearby town.
According to the data company ScrapeHero’s 2022 count, there are 1,357 Orangetheory Fitness locations in the United States, spread across 845 cities.
Since I lived in the suburbs and worked in the city, I had the flexibility to workout before work, during lunch breaks, after work in the city to avoid the traffic, or even heading south to visit my boyfriend, who lived about an hour away.
It was also terribly convenient whenever I stayed over my boyfriend’s place, which I did a lot, to have even more locations near his place as well! And sometimes I traveled around the state for work, so wherever I went, I always had a nearby studio I could hit up. It just made sense.
A New Attitude, plus a New Way to Move
When I first moved to Washington, all I ever really knew about fitness was running. And sure, I was decent at it, but I also hated it (for those who think good runners actually enjoy it, just know that’s not always the case). Then, factor in how rainy Washington State gets in the winter… I had been craving a new way of working out that didn’t involve running down the same scary trail through the woods where I may or may not get completely drenched and/or kidnapped halfway out. Not that people in my town were being kidnapped, but Renton was known for the Green River Serial Killer. But I digress.
I had heard how much “fun” people who attended Orangetheory Fitness classes were having from coworkers, which was honestly hard for me to fathom before ever going. I mean, how could you possibly have fun while exercising? But I figured, I had to try something since my new desk job and sitting on my ass all day was catching up to me weight-wise.
What Exactly is Orangetheory Fitness?
Attending an Orangetheory Fitness class is an otherworldly experience. It’s almost like you’re at a hot new club with cool music and neon orange lights, but instead of dancing to sweat your makeup off, you’re working out! (Although I totally liked to throw in a dance move or two and make a habit of singing along like it’s karaoke — no shame). It’s kind of bizarre, but actually SO much fun. And then it’s like you have a personal trainer, except you’re in a group. Plus, everyone wears a heart rate monitor that connects to a live board, showing how hard you’re working.
There are three sections to an Orangetheory Fitness class: rowing, treads, and weight floor. Oftentimes, you’ll do what’s called a 3G, where you’ll spend 15 minutes in each section along with a warmup and cool down stretch. There’s also a 2G class, where you might spend half the class on treadmills and half the class rotating between weight floor and rowing.
On the treadmills, you can either elect to jog or run, or you can walk on an incline. I often rotate depending on the day and how sore my body is from the previous workouts. On rowers, sometimes you do intervals of fast and short rows with maybe a medicine ball or body exercise thrown in between, or you’ll do longer and slower rows. On the weight floor, the exercises vary from body workouts — like pushups or crunches or using resistance bands — to using free weights or even using the TRX straps on the wall.
Endurance Vs. Strength
While there’s always a nice variation every workout, some days have different themes like Endurance or Strength Days. In the endurance days, you’ll typically do longer runs or walks on the treadmills and longer times on the rowers. For strength days, you may be encouraged to lift heavier weights with shorter, more intense treadmill intervals, like running on an incline.
A Workout For All Skill Levels
If you’re a beginner to learning how to workout, Orangetheory Fitness is totally ideal. The trainer directs the class on every move with demonstrations, so you absolutely never have to think up your own workout or wonder how to do something properly. They are also extremely helpful to newcomers and give private tours before your first class so you understand all the equipment ahead of time. Plus, the instructors walk around the entire time checking up on everyone and observing for proper form.
For my workout pros and gym nuts out there, Orangetheory Fitness is where you’ll thrive! Since all the workouts are at your own pace, you can go as fast and as hard as you want, running at top speeds or lifting super heavy or absolutely killing the rower. Workout pros will also love their in-house competitions…
Throughout the month, different studios will host competitions or benchmark challenges that help bring some healthy competition to the workout. For instance, there is a 2,000-meter row — my absolute least favorite — where you row as fast as you can. I always happened to be in a male-dominant class those days and just got obliterated by these super fit guys, who finish in like half the time it takes me. And they often do a timed 12-minute benchmark run to see how far you can get on the treadmills.
There’s also fun signature workouts like Catch Me If You Can or specialty workouts like Capture the Flag. And then there are bigger challenges like Dri-Tri, which is a pretty popular competition and like a mini marathon. Orange Everest is another big challenge that is basically running on the treadmill and trying to get up to the highest incline. If the more intense workout challenges aren’t your thing, don’t worry — just pay attention to when these events are so you can avoid them like I pretty much did! HAHA. Plus, some of them are by signup only so you typically won’t just stumble into a Dri-Tri competition by accident.
What to Look Forward To
There are SO many pluses to getting an Orangetheory Fitness membership or just going often. Here are a few of my favorites factors.
- A community bond. Once you start going to a studio regularly or even around the same time, you get to recognize similar faces in the neighborhood and become workout friends. Not to mention, a lot of locations host fun get-togethers like post-workout bar meetups, or doing a group hike instead (these events vary by location and are always announced a head of time to plan for!)
- Class recognition and getting to know your instructor. Along with knowing your fellow Orangetheorists, many times you become very close with the studio instructors — shout-out to my girl Danielle below! As the trainers learn your name they like to cheer you on during the workout and it’s almost like your bestie is rooting for you. It honestly would make me feel SO special and motivated me to go harder. I pretty much knew and loved all the trainers at the Puyallup and Lake Tapps locations in Washington, which made it so hard moving to Chicago and leaving them behind! Also, studios use the “Brag Board” to highlight a member’s accomplishments and post them on their social media.
Ease of Access
- Convenience of location and time. There are literally so many studio locations around the country! Whenever I have travelled anywhere, I pretty much had an option to go to a local gym. Depending on the studio, there is often a ton of times to choose from, whether that’s going as early as 5am or 6am before work, going during your lunch time or afternoon downtime, and going after work as late as 9pm.
Have A blast While getting your sweat on
- Healthy competition. I have honestly never been a huge fan of competition, but when I’m in my Orangetheory Fitness classes I go HARD. It’s so motivating seeing your name up on the screen, and you secretly start competing to have the most Splat Points. Also, I would aim to hit a certain amount of burned calories each class, so being able to see the number up there kept me on track. I, however, did not enjoy the additional harder challenges.
- Jam to your favorite tunes. The music is hands down one of my favorite parts during Orangetheory Fitness classes. Imagine the hottest club music blasting in the gym! Music really motivates me, like I can honestly do just about anything hard if there’s bomb music playing. And sometimes, there are different genre themes — I LOVED the heavy metal class and even contributed a few of the song recommendations! Again, depending on your studio, the instructors will ask for song requests.
A FEw Considerations
Nothing amazing in this world comes without a few downsides, and Orangetheory Fitness is no exception. Here are a couple things that ultimately bugged me, particularly after moving further away from the city and those more popular locations.
Major Muscle Soreness
Get ready to be a little (or a lot) extra sore. This is pretty normal, especially as you’re working muscles you probably have never worked before. If you’re noticing this a lot though well into a few months, you may need to just dial it back a bit. You’ll actually find you can take classes more often if you don’t give 100% effort in each class.
Sometimes, I’d find myself going so hard and getting so competitive in one class that I couldn’t workout for like three days after because I literally couldn’t move. So, remember, it’s better to workout more often than to become so sore you can only workout twice a week.
Looking for workout recovery? Check out my blog on “Red Light Therapy Pros & Cons: My Free Week of Wellness” to learn about using infrared saunas and LED body sculpting.
Location is truly everything
In my second year in Washington after getting a new remote job and moving further south to a suburb called Puyallup, I discovered that not all locations have the same conveniences. While I only lived six minutes away from this new location, my new schedule only allowed me to go after work.
For those who don’t know this area of South Hill though, the street my gym was on was NOTORIOUS for having THE WORST rush hour traffic. What originally would take me six minutes, now took me TWENTY MINUTES. I know, absurd right? Well it was so absurd that I pretty much underestimated and forgot just how bad traffic could get and was pretty much late all the time to class, having complete road raging meltdowns in my car.
Being Late is Not an Option
You may think, no big deal, being late is fine! Well, it’s not. If you’re more than 5 minutes late to a class, you’re not allowed in and get charged the $13 missed-class fee. You would think that fee would be encouragement to not miss a class, but when you’re at the mercy of Washington traffic you simply don’t stand a chance. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the studio so much as I do myself for always being last-minute to things. But just keep that in mind if you’re in a similar area.
Pricing, Fees, and Strict Times (in some locations)
In my first year of doing Orangetheory Fitness, I had absolutely no issue with the $180 monthly membership fee for unlimited classes. I mean, you can’t put a price on your well-being, right? But after moving to that totally not ideal location in a busy suburb area, the fees really started to add up.
Not only is being late not an option, but if you cancel within 8 hours of a class, you also get charged a $13 no-show fee. Personally, I get why it’s a thing since the studios fill up fast, but I still think it’s absurd. Life happens, especially when you have last-minute meetings come up for work, which I often did. So I found myself constantly getting charged more than I was actually going to workout some weeks! It was like I was just giving away my $200+ a month.
Also, in less popular studios, sometimes there aren’t as many times to choose from because there’s less demand for the territory and not enough trainers. Some didn’t offer lunch-time classes, which had been ideal for me when I worked in Seattle. Others only had one or two afternoon classes that would conflict with my schedule and meetings. And other times, the early morning or right-after-work classes would fill up too fast.
Most of these downsides for me were only because of the new location and work circumstance I was in. So, chances are if you’re in a major city or at least in an area where there is a lot of demand for OTF, you’ll find enough options and popular studios that won’t give you those same problems. Just remember not to take booking a class lightly if you have a schedule that fluctuates frequently!
Try It For Free
I should add that I did discontinue my membership after moving to Chicago recently, but only because I live in a super dope high-rise apartment with a 24-hour world-class gym and sauna. Eventually, I do plan to go back to using Orangetheory Fitness, probably with a 4 or 8-class membership so I can still enjoy some of those factors that I miss about the gym. Plus, I’m dying to check out some of their Chicago studios since they’re all set up different!
But what is important is that I will never forget how Orangetheory Fitness completely revamped my attitude towards working out. It taught me to love and appreciate exercise and actually enjoy it, which was a change I truly needed in my life back in 2020. And chances are, you are too.
Don’t take my word for it though — try Orangetheory Fitness for 30 days, taking at least 12 classes, and if you don’t love it, they’ll refund you. Check out all of their promotions, including their first free class offer! Let me know your thoughts on OTF in the comments below.
Remember, what you’re eating is just as important (if not more) as working out. Head over to my blog, “How to Stick to a Diet: Swap Your Fad Diet for a Sustainable Lifestyle.”