Orangetheory Fitness Review – How Does Heart Rate Zone Training Work?


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Thanks to a fun Yelp event, my new thing for Week 24 of Trying New Things was a class at Orangetheory Fitness.   Going into the class, I had a vague idea about the heart rate zones but didn’t know what the whole orange thing really meant, so I was wondering what I was getting myself into!

Orangetheory’s website explains the science behind their workout setup and it’s based on 5 heart rate zones, and the concept of afterburn.


Orangetheory is based on the science of EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. If you challenge your body at the right intensity, your body will work harder to recover oxygen lost during exercise. This revs your metabolism and makes you burn calories long after your workout is over.


The Orangetheory workout is comprised of five heart rate zones based on your individual heart rate. Our workouts are strategically designed so you spend at least 12 minutes or more in the Orange Zone to get your heart rate between 84 to 91% of your unique heart rate maximum. When your heart rate is elevated, you’ll start to see and feel real changes in your body. These aren’t ordinary workouts you typically find at a local gym.

  1. Very Light Activity
  2. Warm Up
  3. Challenging But Doable
  4. Orange Effect, Uncomfortable
  5. All Out Effort!
My husband getting ready for our first class
Summary Of Our First 60 Minute Class
  • Filled out waiver and personal information at front desk
  • Got set up with heart rate monitor ( they have several types – I opted for the arm monitor and my husband got the monitor that straps around your chest)
  • Our instructor introduced herself to all of us in the group and briefly explained what to expect in the class.
  • They split us up into 2 groups – The first group started on the treadmills and second group started on the rowing machines and free weights.  After 30 minutes, we switched places and went to the other section.



  • A total of 30 minutes with about 8 burst intervals with rest mixed in.  Each interval was around 30-60 seconds of exercise (at different intensity levels), then an interval of rest.
  • We looked up at the large TV screens which showed the heart rate zones for everyone in the group and we tried to modify our exertion to make sure we were staying in the appropriate zone.  The instructor reminded us in each section what zone we should be aiming for as far as the color and which exertion level (base, push, or all out)



Rowing Machines, Free Weights, and AMRAP (as many reps as possible) exercises 

  • We rowed 150 meters alternating with weighted squat thrusts (12 pound minimum for females and 20 pound minimum for males)
  • Mixed in with the rowing were exercises on the open area of the room where we did skaters, weighted lunges, lateral bear crawls and V Up sit-ups.


  • After we finished, the instructor led us in some optional (but highly encouraged) stretching which was a great way to wind down.
Class Summary Showing Heart Rate Zones For All Participants

Summary Of What I Liked

  • Good variety of movements in the workout – my favorite was the rowing part but definitely felt maxed out afterward.
  • Trainers help modify exercises for those who have injuries or disabilities.
  • Upbeat music throughout the class to keep you motivated.
  • There was an emphasis on forming a fit “family” and having a team mentality.
  • Clean facilities with showers and good sanitation practices to clean exercise machines after each use.
  • Reciprocity at all Orangetheory locations so you can work out at other OTF locations when you travel.
  • You can sign up on a month by month basis – must commit to a minimum of 2 months, but no longer-term contract required.

Diamond Hemp

OTF May Not Be For You If:

  • You’re not a planner.  Classes book up incredibly quickly and far in advance, so if you do not plan your schedule at least a week or two in advance, you likely won’t be able to get into the class you want.  I was naive in thinking I could just wait until the last minute to book classes!
  • You’re looking for a budget workout option.  Membership rates vary depending on where you live, but at our location where we ended up joining in Greensboro, the packages were as follows: Basic (4 classes for $59/month), Elite (8 classes for $99/month) and Premier (unlimited classes for $159/month).
  • You don’t like being pushed to your max in a workout.  Though you’re not competing against anyone but yourself in the class, they will push you hard and leave you uncomfortable multiple times throughout the class.  We left exhausted, but with a good feeling of accomplishment!

Ultimately, it’s a great structured option that will help push you to your max so you can reach specific fitness goals if you are dedicated to regular attendance.  If your schedule is all over the place and/or you prefer self-directed workouts, you’ll probably be better off looking into free fitness opportunities or joining a traditional gym.

Does Orangetheory sound like something you want to try?  Find a location near you!  The first class is FREE for you to try, so I like that they let you experience a class before you commit to a membership!

Thanks for reading.  Have you tried OTF before?  Let me know your thoughts below!


Vital Proteins


  1. I tried it once! I ultimately didn’t choose it because, although some of the workout was stuff I wouldn’t do on my own, I didn’t feel like 30 minutes worth of treadmill intervals was something I should pay that much money for.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve considered trying Orange Theory, but I probably wouldn’t be too comfortable with being pushed too hard. I also get motion sick from the treadmill, believe it or not. Def. not a fan.

    Also, this is probably an odd question, but do they really keep the lights like that? I feel like that would mess with your eyes a bit.

    Either way, super informative post!

    Liked by 1 person

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