Orange is the New… Boutique Gym: A Review of Orangetheory Fitness
Boutique gyms are trending. For many, the idea of working out in smaller fitness classes rather than a large gym has a strong appeal. One of the more popular fitness studios is Orangetheory Fitness or “OTF” as members have nicknamed it.
Orangetheory Fitness is a franchise based out of Boca Raton, Florida. It was co-founded by female exercise physiologist, Ellen Lathan, M.S. There are currently locations in 45 states in the U.S. and an additional 18 countries. In total, there are over 900 studios worldwide.
So, why is this boutique studio so popular in a highly competitive market? For one, OTF claims to burn 500-1,000 calories per 60-minute class. Additionally, Orangetheory Fitness makes the bold claim that it is “the best one-hour workout in the country” as well as “motivating, energizing, high-intensity interval training fit for all.”
For runners, part of the appeal of running is its simplicity. It is as old school a workout as they come. One of the key components of Orangetheory Fitness involves using a heart monitor. You can still do the workout without the monitor but the idea is to get into different color zones of effort (results are displayed on a TV screen above the equipment).
For a first time class, participants are encouraged to arrive 15-30 minutes early. This is to fill out a health survey, be fitted for the heart rate monitor, and receive a studio tour. There are five heart-rate levels ranging from relaxed to all-out intensity. The orange and red levels are where your metabolism is supposedly kicked into high gear and this is what allows you to burn calories up to 36 hours later. So, while the screens encourage effort based on individual skill levels, it also appeals to competitors.
An OTF class creates a high-calorie burn through the concept of excess-post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). After being in high effort zones, the body burns calories at a high level even after a workout has been completed.
The workout room consists of treadmills, rowing machines, free weights, and suspension unit systems. The classes vary by day but typically include 20-30 minutes of running on a treadmill. The coach will intermittently instruct participants to increase/decrease speed, incline, and effort. From a runner’s perspective, this idea of tempo training is not unusual.
The other portion of the class involves the rowing machine, lifting weights, or doing exercises with body resistance (planks, crunches, etc.). Within a 60 minute workout, participants get both cardio and strength training.
- High energy class with great music lists
- Easy to follow instructions from an encouraging, but challenging coach
- Many studios offer a free first class so beginners can test out the studio before joining.
- Free lockers are provided
- Small group class sizes
- The 60-minute workout maximizes the participant’s time, including both cardio and strength training.
- This workout is intended for all fitness levels. Not all exercise classes are so inclusive!
- The front desk staff takes the time in the beginning to show newbies the equipment and how the heart rate monitor works.
- The price. For instance, in Nashville, a newly opened Orangetheory Fitness gym charges $149/month for the founder’s rate. This price increases once the gym opens. Some people need the extra motivation of money to work out. For others, the cost may be a deterrent. *Note: gym prices can vary by location.
- Technology is not always foolproof. Sometimes the heart monitor does not register, so one of the front desk staff will come into the class to take it away and give it a “boost”. (To be fair, this is a quick fix and the staff is dedicated to ensuring the technology works for you.)
- From a runner’s perspective, it can feel strange to pay for a class where a large majority is running – the exercise we do for free.
This type of class can be a good way to shake up a running plateau. If you need someone to boss you into doing more incline work and speed work, this will help with that! Or if you want to incorporate more strength training into your running routine, this will be a great guide. Overall, this gym is a great resource if you lack motivation, are looking to lose weight by increasing your effort, or if you want to try out a HIIT workout class. The treadmill workout can be tailored to speed walkers, joggers, and faster runners making it applicable to all fitness levels.
- Orangetheory Fitness, Website ,
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