What comes to mind when you first hear the words, “Orangetheory?”

When I was approached by a local PR company to try out a free Orangetheory class, a lot of thoughts crossed my mind!!

“Oh no. The current fitness trend found me.”
“I’m a CrossFitter! I don’t do Orangetheory!”
“Wait, how much cardio is there? Am I going to pass out?”

I’m no fitness guru by any stretch of the imagination, but picking up heavy things and putting them down, climbing ropes, strict pull-ups, double unders and jogging (slowly) – they are my jam. They are my medicine. I started CrossFit in 2013 and never looked back – it completely changed my life and made me who I am today. What on earth was Orangetheory really and what should I expect?

I’ve only really ever seen glimpses of Orangetheory Fitness (I’ll start referring to it as OTF now) classes on social media via influencer feeds. I also have a couple friends that swear by OTF and absolutely love it. Literally not having a clue what to expect, I said yes to my free class and invited my exercise cohort in crime, Mishana, to come with me so we could also film the experience for our YouTube channel.

Here we go! Two old ladies about to get their sweat on!
Why is it called Orangetheory ?

Here’s what I surmised from their website, related to the science behind the orange and class basics:

  • OTF is a heart-rate based high-intensity interval training (HIIT) total-body group workout that combines science, coaching and technology to guarantee maximum results from the inside out
  • During their heart-rate based HIIT workout, a coach will guide you through their 5 different heart rate zones: resting, easy, challenging, uncomfortable and All Out, telling you when to push harder and when to pull back for recovery
  • The 5 Zone heart rate based interval training is specifically designed and timed with interval training blocks. During a workout, members focus on Zones 3, 4 and 5. The workouts are designed to produce 12 minutes or more in Zones 4 & 5 combined (to achieve the “after burn”) during the treadmill training portion of the workout.
  • The goal is to spend 12 minutes or more with your heart rate elevated in “The Orange Zone” to boost your metabolism, burn fat and burn more calories
  • The physiological theory behind the OTF workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. Their 1-hour workout is designed to produce 12 minutes or more of intensities at 84% or higher of maximum heart rate. This program design produces workout “after burn” effect, which is an increased metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after the high intensity interval workout.
What to expect in class
  • Each class includes rowing, a walk, jog or run on a treadmill (bikes and striders are also available as an alternate), and strength training with weight and floor exercises
  • You will wear an arm band made with OTbeat technology that will measure your heart rate and performance data in real time. In-studio monitors connect directly to the OTbeat wearable to show your progress. OTF also gives you 24/7 access to your results and fitness data to track your own personal performance.
  • Members earn Splat Points during each class. Splat Points indicate minutes spent in the orange and red zones. Members should aim for 12 or more Splat Points per class.
  • Everyone’s first class is FREE!
My inaugural class experience

Mishana and I tried out our free class at the Mercer Island location, located at 2601 76th Ave SE.

First and foremost, there is a very convenient and free parking garage, which makes things really easy when you don’t have to spend a long time trying to find parking!

Per instructions, we arrived about thirty minutes prior to our 5:30 p.m. class so we could get a tour of the facility, learn the science behind the workout and meet the coaches! We learned about the benefits of each of the heart rate zones, what Splat Points are, the benefits behind EPOC, how to work the machines and what exercises to expect to do during the workout.

We were assigned our station numbers, which stay consistent throughout the workout. For example, I was on treadmill 6, so then I used station 6 for the weights and rower 6 for my row time. Our instructor was very cool and explained everything so well, Mishana and I didn’t have any questions to ask her. We were ready.

The classes are split into two, with one group completing the strength training and floor exercises while the other hits the treadmill and then they switch. Mishana and I opted to get the cardio out of the way first, so off to the treadmills we went.

The treadmill (dreadmill?)
Just say no to cardio. Just kidding.

Upon stepping on the treadmill, the music begins. As it blasts throughout the entire studio, all you can feel are the up-tempo beats vibrating through your core as the trainer speaks into her mic with instructions. Today on the treadmill – we had hill climbs.  Walk. Jog. Run. 1%, 5%, 7%, 10% inclines. Get into that orange zone! Look at the monitor, where are you at?

Oh no, I’m in the red zone. Already.

Walk! Jog! Run! Go back up to 5% incline! Come back down! Push yourself! 10%! You’ve got this! You can do it!

How often am I going to be in the red zone?  Pretty sure everyone else are doing inclines too. This is embarrassing, no one else is in the red on the monitor but me!  

Keep going! You’ve got this. Push yourself! Take a breather, get back down to green. How are you feeling? What makes you uncomfortable? You can do it, push through!

And then just like that, over 20 minutes on the treadmill, with me jogging as much as I could at the higher inclines, was over. And despite my initial thoughts of being one of the only ones in the red zone for most of my run and being embarrassed for some reason – I don’t think anyone else in the class  noticed. Everyone was so focused on their own numbers and their own fitness. There was no judging by anyone!

Strength Training
Example of what you’ll see as part of the strength training.

Ahhh weights, floor exercises and rowing! Where I shine!

After our time on the treadmill, Mishana and I went over to our weight and floor exercise stations to begin circuit training! On this day, the circuit training included push-ups, squat to bicep curls, pull-ups, chest press, jump squats, bent-over rows, alternating jump lunges, iso-squat squat jacks and rowing!

The “Shots!” song by LMFAO was probably in my head, only replaced by “Squats!”

With that music still enveloping the soul, I was stoked to get through the strength training portion! Counting my reps with the beats of the music, it felt good to opt for some heavier weights for some of the exercises. I was in my groove. And then came bent-over rows. My trainer came up and reminded me to straighten out my back and not hunch over.


Let’s use a proper technique now, please!

If its one thing I pride myself on, it’s proper posture (one of the first rules you learn in CrossFit, technique and body position is more important than the weight you are using). I was mad at myself for my poor posture, but also QUICKLY corrected my issue and remained cognizant of it for the rest of the training. One cannot dwell on being corrected. You can only correct what you are doing wrong and not do it again! And a very big thank you to my trainer for letting me know. Now hopefully I will always have proper bent-over row posture!!

The rower is another one of my favorite machines as I can power through a 500 meter row pretty quickly with my long legs. After each of the circuits, we had to spend the remaining time we had left trying to hit 400 meters on the rower. My pride once again got the best of me as I was just shy of the 400 meters with the first circuit before time ran out, but I more than made up for it in the second circuit.

Rowing is my favorite! Said no one, ever. Maybe.
Overall OTF Thoughts
How did we do?

Going into my first OTF class having no clue what to expect, I left smiling and happy. I burned 499 calories in the hour, earned 32 Splat Points, spent 19 minutes in the orange zone and only 13 minutes in the red zone – most of it probably from the treadmill. I wasn’t as sweaty as I thought I would be – but there are fans everywhere – including on the treadmill. I’m pretty sure all my sweat was blown right off me. But have no fear folks, OTF is very diligent about everyone cleaning and sanitizing their equipment after each use.

All in all, it was really fun! It wasn’t as intense as CrossFit can be, but I can definitely see why OTF is so popular. The coaches are incredibly friendly and very knowledgeable, the facility is clean, the workouts vary each day and no doubt if I keep going, I’ll make some lifelong friends!

If you have been on the fence about OTF, I highly recommend trying out their initial free class, just to see what it’s all about.

We had fun!


And now, feel free to check out the fun and laughter Mishana and I had during our OTF class!


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