Review: Orangetheory Fitness

Author’s Note: This is my personal, unbiased opinion of Orangetheory Fitness and I was not compensated in any way for this review.

20160918_152405I had the good fortune of having an incredibly active visit to Chicago. I asked my cousin, Susan, with whom we were staying, if she wanted to work out while I was there, and I got an eager YES! as a response. She did not disappoint! Between a gym workout, walking sightseeing, and a run clinic, I managed to offset all the amazing food we enjoyed and come home weighing less than when I left. Here’s how my trip went:

Friday – Orangetheory Fitness (60min/668 calories), walking around downtown and 19,512 steps total

Saturday – Art Institute of Chicago and 14,316 steps total

Sunday – Run Clinic (1hr 6min/3.54mi/578 calories), Architectural Boat Tour and 16,109 steps total

Not bad eh? Made up for having deep dish pizza and beef sandwiches!

The Workout

So how was Orangetheory Fitness? Well it’s easier if I start with what Orangetheory Fitness is. From their website:

The physiological theory behind the Orangetheory workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. By providing you with a heart-rate monitor and POD, we can monitor your 5-zone interval training sessions that we call the Orange 60. During the 60-minute workout, you will perform multiple intervals designed to produce 12 to 20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate, which translates to Zones 4/5. This program design produces workout “afterburn” effect, which is an increased metabolic rate for 24 to 36 hours after the workout. When combining the amazing workout with EPOC, our clients burn an average of 500 to 1000 calories.

So essentially you’re getting a varied 60-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout that includes cardio and strength training. You’re wearing a heart rate monitor the whole time, and your heart rate, %max and calories burned are displayed on a large monitor so you can easily glance up and see if you’re hitting the target zone (they make it really easy to see if you’re in orange by changing the color of your square according to your heart rate).

What I love about their system is the DATA. They e-mail you your results after your workout so you can see how you did. I wore both their wrist heart rate monitor and my Polar heart rate monitor. My Polar had me at 668 calories burned, so they’re a bit low but not too bad! They promise you’ll burn 500-1000 calories an hour so either way you read it I was in that range. They provide 3 different types of sessions, one strength-based, one endurance-based and the one we did, which was tabata-style. There were about 20 people in the class, so half of us started on the treadmills and the other half on the floor. Treadmill people switched between three phases, Base, Push, and All Out. You could choose between running and power walking, and during the course of the workout I tried both. I started with jogging at a 4 mph pace for my Base. Push was 6 mph and All Out was 7 mph. Each interval was between 30 seconds and 2 minutes and were varied.For power walkers, the goal was to stick to the same speed but raise elevation between 4 and 15%.

After about 8 minutes, we switched and moved to the floor. Floor exercises were TRX and ab based: crunches, plank toe touches, the dreaded burpees. Once we finished a set of each, we moved to the water rowers, which I’d never used before. Really fun! Our goal there was to finish a specific yard length of rowing in a certain time before moving back to the floor exercises and repeating until the block was complete. All in all we had 3 treadmill sessions and 3 floor sessions total, with each set of ab exercises being different and each rowing session being longer and faster. Before I knew it the 60 minutes was over and I was pooped!


The best part? I abhor group exercise classes, but the pace was so fast it almost felt like a solo workout. You don’t have time to chitchat with your neighbors, and if you’re able to hold a conversation during this workout you’re not trying hard enough. And the way the room is laid out isn’t conducive to watching other people workout, you’re all in a line and often in front of a mirror so you can only really watch yourself, so it removes the comparison to others. A group workout for people who don’t like group workouts, who knew?!


I went to an Orangetheory in Chicago, and they have premium pricing there. $79 a month will get you 4 sessions, or almost $20 a session! Now you know I’m frugal (in the case of gym memberships I’m a flat out cheapskate) so $20 a SESSION is very high for someone like me, but if you can afford it I think it’s a really great workout and it was challenging while still being enjoyable. Okay okay, I still hate burpees but that was a very small part of the whole thing. Their website is kind of vague regarding pricing (I had to search a bit) but my local Orangetheory Fitness in Moorestown, NJ (still about 30 min from home) is $59 a month for up to 4 sessions, which is a bit more reasonable. Even so, out of my budget. The good news is you can try the first workout for FREE.


I really enjoyed the workout at Orangetheory Fitness, which says a lot considering how much of a lone wolf I am when it comes to workouts. I burned a lot of calories in that 60 minute session, and I was sore for the next few days (all those public transit stairs were groan-inducing). I got to try new equipment in the form of water rowers and TRX suspension, and I got to workout with Susan, which was a blast! I’d say if it’s within your budget and you prefer to have someone else guiding your workouts, then this is a great option and well worth the money. If Orangetheory sponsors the Adventure Run again and I won a free membership I’d absolutely use it!

So what about you? Have you tried Orangetheory? Let me know in the comments!




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