No matter where you live or who you know, odds are you’ve heard of Orangetheory Fitness. There are more than 1,300 locations all around the globe, from all 50 U.S. states to the United Arab Emirates and Costa Rica. In just 10 years, Orangetheory has created a community of over one million members that rave about their HIIT-centered, total-body, group workouts – but is it worth the hype? And what exactly are you signing up for when you walk into one of their orange workout centers?
We’re here to answer all your top questions and give you some expert nutrition advice to pair with those heavy HIIT workouts. We’ve chatted with Nicole Hinckley, RD, a licensed dietitian, speaker, and nutrition consultant for Protein20. She’s worked alongside Orangetheory Fitness athletes who implement this workout style into their daily routines. So for the inside scoop on everything Orangetheory Fitness, keep on reading.
What Is Orangetheory Fitness?
Orangetheory is an hour-long, “full-body workout within and out of studio options,” says Hinckley. The brand focuses on training one’s endurance, strength, and power in part by using heart rate tracking technology to craft a workout that best fits you. Orangetheory uses heart-rate-based interval training, moving between five different zones: resting, easy, challenging, uncomfortable, and “All Out.”
When you walk into an Orangetheory class, your goal is to spend at least 12 minutes with your heart rate elevated in the “Orange Zone,” this will boost your metabolism, burn fat, and burn more calories post-workout than traditional exercise. This after-burn effect is based on the physiological theory known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” or EPOC, which enables you to burn calories even after the workout is done.
“Orangetheory is more than just a gym,” says Hinckley, “They combine science, technology tracking, and motivating coaches to help drive real results.” Plus, Orangetheory workouts are group workouts meaning you’re never on your own. “Orangetheory emphasizes community and togetherness, which I believe creates a safe and motivating environment for people of all fitness levels,” explains Hinckley.
“They know that exercise is so much more than just weight loss; it’s about allowing you to live your life to the fullest.” You’re also joined by experienced coaches that know how to push you (in a tough love kind of way) with advice and words of encouragement.
What Does a Typical Session Look Like?
As a new member walking into an Orangetheory class, what can you expect? Well, it sometimes varies but ultimately comes down to a basic layout. “Classes may consist of rowing, running on the treadmill, strength training, and more,” says Hinckley. “The goal is to reach the ‘Orange Zone’ to maximize the benefits of your workout.”
An Orangetheory is a one-hour class that begins with rowing because each stroke activates 85% of your body’s muscles, improving your strength, endurance, and power. You’ll then move onto cardio. Which could be a walk, jog, run, or even some strides on a bike or elliptical machine. You get to decide how you move. Thirdly, you’ll move onto strength training. The weight and floor exercises are continuously changing, so you can target and strengthen different muscle groups.
This setup is just one reason why members love the workouts so much. The high-energy space filled with other community members helps make a killer workout more fun. “I love Orangetheory’s approach to fitness,” reveals Hinckley.
“It is so important to have measurable goals, and with their OTbeat technology, the members are able to view their heart rate and measure their progress over time. I also love that it is a workout you can look forward to. All of my clients that are members of Orangetheory are eager to start each workout because of the community and encouraging atmosphere.”
What Is OTbeat?
OTbeat refers to Orangetheory’s exclusive heart rate monitoring technology that enables members to have an individualized experience. You get to see your own real-time data during the workout. And afterward, you can review your performance and see how you can improve for next time.
Is Orangetheory Really Good for All Fitness Levels?
Yes! Orangetheory is specifically designed to cater to all fitness levels. You can go at your own pace, and there are modifications you and your coaches can make for each exercise. So even if you haven’t worked out in a while, you’ll have no problem feeling comfortable and in your element during an Orangetheory workout.
What Are the Health Benefits of Orangetheory Fitness?
We all know that exercise of any kind is beneficial for your physical and mental health, but what are the specific benefits of Orangetheory? “Orangetheory utilizes heart rate-based HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts,” explains Hinckley. “HIIT workouts are an efficient form of exercise. HIIT can help you burn more calories in a short amount of time, increase your metabolic rate, aid in fat loss and muscle growth!”
So it’s perfect for those who want to lose weight, improve their overall health, and build muscle. And what doesn’t sound great about that? “Not only are HIIT workouts effective, but they are also fun!” says Hinckley. “They are one of my personal favorite workouts because you never get bored of doing the same thing.”
And we can’t forget the inherent benefits of regular exercise, according to the CDC, on improving heart and mental health, decreasing your risk for many chronic diseases and cancers, boosting hours of good quality sleep, and much more.
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How Does It Differ From Other High-Intensity Workouts Like F45 and HIIT?
Unlike other group fitness classes, in an Orangetheory class, you aren’t doing the exact same thing as the people next to you. Your primary focus is on your own individual effort (or “Splat Points”) and getting into the orange and red zones.
Orangetheory also differs from popular workout programs like CrossFit because it contains more cardio and high-intensity interval training than weight lifting (though it does have strength training). This makes it a good workout option for anyone (no matter your current fitness level) wanting to burn calories and get in shape but know little about the skills and techniques behind weight training.
Orangetheory is also different from just doing cardio and HIIT training at your local gym because the technology and the uplifting group setting keep you motivated and hold you accountable. Plus, you’re in and out within an hour.
What Do I Need To Get Started?
Getting started with Orangetheory is pretty simple: find the location nearest to you and book a class online or by calling your local studio. If it’s your first class, Orangetheory advises that you arrive a few minutes before your class starts (no longer than 30 minutes to avoid congregating).
You’ll get set up with an OTbeat Heart Rate Monitor, meet your coach, and get cued in on the workout. Your local Orangetheory may still be following CDC Covid-19 guidelines. When you walk in, crew members will take your temperature, ask that you sanitize your hands, and complete a quick verbal symptom checklist. You may also be required to wear a mask during your workout. For any questions on what guidelines you need to follow, contact your local studio.
When it comes to equipment, you only need to bring your essentials (think phone, keys, water bottle, and a sweat towel). Wear comfortable workout gear and supportive footwear that won’t distract you during your workout or lead to any injuries.
What Diet/Food Groups Are Recommended for Someone Taking Part in Orangetheory Fitness and Why Is It Important To Follow This?
Eating a well-balanced diet is always a good start to improving your health and fitness, and that’s precisely what Hinckley recommends. “I always recommend eating a well-balanced diet that consists of whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
Aim for eating a rainbow a day to help ensure you are receiving a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants,” she suggests. “Focus on consuming mostly whole foods but occasionally allowing for a treat or two can help you stay on track. It is always important to create habits that you will be able to sustain long term.”
How Can Eating Right Impact Your Performance and Health Alongside Orangetheory Fitness?
For an hour-long workout session filled with HIIT, cardio, and strength training, making sure you are filling your body with energy-dense foods is critical for optimal performance. “Fueling your body properly with high-quality carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats, along with adequate water intake, can improve energy levels, mood, concentration, and lead to better performance,” says Hinckley.
“Before a workout that is of high-intensity or longer than 90 minutes, consuming a carbohydrate, such as a banana, can help you feel more energized and perform your best. After a workout, eating a balanced meal or snack can help replenish energy and promote muscle growth! My go-to post-workout snack is peanut butter crackers and a protein water. It’s the perfect combination of carbs, protein, healthy fat, and water!
An Example Meal Plan Whilst Taking Part in Orangetheory Fitness
Eating a well-balanced diet is all about, well, balance. “I love the 80/20 rule and believe it is important for maintaining sustainable results,” recommends Hinckley. “80% of the time eat whole foods that nourish your body and 20% indulge a little bit!” Here’s what Hinckley has planned for a full, balanced day of eating pre and post Orangetheory workout:
Post Orange Theory Workout:
- Avocado toast with an egg
- Apple with peanut butter & Protein20
- Salad with chicken & crackers
- Greek yogurt & berries
- Salmon with sweet potato and asparagus
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