Orange Theory – Is It The Best Workout For You? Series Pt. 1

If you haven’t read the introduction to this “How To Choose the Best Workout For You” blog series, check it out here!


Aerobic/HIIT & Full-Body Strength

Origin of Orange Theory:

Orange Theory is a relatively newer gym, but it is catching on rapidly with locations already in 16 countries; it was named the fastest-growing woman-owned company in 2017. Impressive, right? Orange Theory attributes its popularity to providing a full-body strength and cardio HIIT* workout in just one hour.

The Workout:

HIIT puts your body in a state of “EPOC”, as Orange Theory has coined the phrase, or “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption”; basically, after finishing an Orange Theory workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours. Orange Theory boasts that this type of workout increases your metabolism, and only needs to be completed two or three hours every week for maximum results.

Enough of the science… let’s get into what you actually will experience at Orange Theory. You need a heart rate monitor, which OT will provide for your first class. Ultimately, though, you need to purchase one. I was told they run close to $70.

The instructor opens the doors to the workout room and invites everyone to begin on a treadmill or rower.

orange theory

Your Orange Theory Experience – The Treadmill Section:

Treadmill-ers will spend just under 30 minutes alternating between periods of “Base”, “Push”, or “All-Out” speed or incline.

Generally, there is a little “cheat-sheet” on the treadmill indicating how fast to run or what incline to set in order to achieve the “push” or “all-out”. A “push” means increasing your “base” pace. An “all-out” period involves as much effort as you possibly can, like sprinting or the highest incline walk you can bear.

The instructor shouts out all of the cues as well as encouraging reminders to be sure you get the best workout possible! Remember, the method here is “high-intensity intervals”, so you will be sweating a TON, but the effort is worth it!

Your Orange Theory Experience – The Rowing/Bodyweight Section

On the rowing machine shift, the instructor will give a certain time-frame or distance goal to meet.

As soon as you reach it, you move to the floor to complete the scheduled bodyweight exercises for the day. I’ve experienced variations on burpees, planks, jumping jacks, dumbbell moves, TRX, push-ups, and sit-ups, though they say you will never complete the exact class twice.

The instructor encourages you and your fellow classmates to go as quickly as you can while giving advice on your form or other assistance if need be. Once the exercises are finished, you rush back to the rower. Your instructor then tells you to meet a different goal this time, like shaving off a few seconds from your initial distance row, for example.

Your Orange Theory Experience – Tracking the Workout

Throughout the entire class, you will be able to see real-time results from your heart rate monitor on a screen in the room (depicted in the photo below). This helps to show you how often you are getting into that “EPOC” range, or if you need to push yourself a little harder.

OT recommends aiming for 12 minutes of each class spent around the 85% maximum heart rate range (“orange zone”) for an effective workout and the most prolonged caloric burning after class.

In the photo below, you read the monitor as such:

  • Top (White Box) shows your name.
  • Left large number indicates current heart rate percentage
  • Right small top number indicates minutes in the “orange zone” so far
  • Right small bottom number indicates current heart rate
  • Bottom white bar depicts “levels” of heart rate by color, ranging from resting to maximum exertion/danger

Seeing the results in real-time is a nice motivating factor as well, as you can see how the rest of the class members compare.

best workout HIIT orange theory lexis rose
Photo Courtesy of Orange Theory

If You Like…

  • to be motivated or competitive in a class setting
  • accountability to keep going and keep pace with classmates
  • routine and knowing what to expect
  • to be pushed/encouraged/taught by an instructor
  • following a workout plan instead of having to create your own moves
  • to workout two or three hours per week – maximum
  • to know you are getting a good workout for you since you see your results on the heart rate monitor throughout the class

…then Orange Theory may be the best workout for you!

Closing Thoughts on Orange Theory:

Orange Theory definitely has some perks, but there are other factors to weigh before deciding. A monthly membership will set you back anywhere from $59 (four classes per month) to $159 (unlimited classes, but they don’t recommend more than three per week, which would equal about 12 per month). This price doesn’t always include the heart rate monitor, though some locations may offer “special deals”.

You also want to take a look at the class schedule for a location near you; unlike many gyms that are open 24 hours per day, since Orange Theory is a class-based workout, you must be able to conform to the scheduled class times. Many locations offer a handful of morning and evening classes each day.

One final aspect to consider is the ease of doing this type of workout on your own; all of the exercises are possible for you to complete on your own with a cheap phone application timer.

If you don’t find yourself needing the motivation, competition, or instruction mentioned in the previous section of information, Orange Theory may not be worth the money for you.

Next In This Series:

Click here for “Jazzercise – Is It The Best Workout For You?” 

As always, thank you for reading! XOXO.


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