All About Orangetheory

Hi, friends! If you’ve noticed a lack of “Weekly Workouts” posts from yours truly it’s not (only) because I’ve been a bad blogger, it’s because it would be extremely boring and repetitive for you to read about! And that’s because pretty much the only workout I’ve been doing lately is Orangetheory Fitness.  If you haven’t heard of Orangetheory (OTF) I’m here to give you the lowdown on the philosophy behind it, what a typical class is like and my experiences with a few different challenges we’ve had at my studio in Ann Arbor.


Orangetheory is a 60 minute interval based workout that utilizes 4 heart rate zones (grey, green, orange, red).  Grey is the zone most people are in when they’re just living life, doing day to day activities or walking at a normal pace.  The green zone (71-83% of your maximum heart rate) is where most people spend the majority of class.  This is the zone you’re probably in if you’re doing strength training, walking at a brisk pace, etc.  The orange and red zones (84-100%+ of your maximum heart rate) are where the magic happens! The goal is to spend at least 12 minutes of every class in the orange or red zone in order to get the benefits of EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption).  The theory is that if you hit that 12 minute target your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate for up to 36 hours after you finish your workout.


Before class begins you’re given a heart rate monitor (at my studio it’s a chest strap and a pod that monitors your heart rate but I’ve heard rumors that they’re moving to watches for all members).  Each studio has large screens with a block for the name of each participant where you can see what zone you’re working in at any point in the workout as well as what your calorie burn is in real time. At my studio each class is limited to 24 people (with the exception of 3G classes, G standing for Group, classes that have 36 people).  Before class begins the instructor informs you whether the class is:

  1. Endurance: longer push paces, higher reps/lower weight for strength exercises
  2. Strength: hills/more incline work on the treadmills, lower reps/higher weight for strength exercises
  3. Power: most similar to strength but with more power components so you can expect to see burpees, jump squats and definitely higher weights
  4. E/S/P (combination of all three)

Upon entering the studio you are split up into two groups: half of the class starts on the water rowers and half of the class starts on the treadmill.  The rowers will do a short warm up (about 2 minutes at an easy pace) followed by a 30 second hard row.  The treadmills will also do a walking warm up during this time.

After the warm up portion of class the rowers move on to strength training blocks.  This is where we do mini circuits for about 7-9 minutes of varying strength training exercises such as: weighted squats, lunges, deadlifts, bicep curls, chest press, etc.  In a typical class you may also use TRX straps, a BOSU ball and an ab dolly.  You may also have some rowing (200-500 meters) thrown in at the beginning or during a block.  There are usually 2-4 blocks during the time spent doing strength training.

During the treadmill portion of classes you are working in one of three “paces”: base, push, or all out.  The speed and incline of these differs depending on whether you’re a power walker, jogger, or runner.  If you can run a ten minute mile you are considered a runner at Orangetheory.  Base pace is a speed that you can comfortably maintain for 30 minutes or so (for me this is usually 4 to 4.5mph).  Push pace is where you should be in the orange zone so working hard but not yet at max effort (depending on how long the push pace is I’m usually between 5 and 6 mph).    All out is just that — max effort and max speed.  You are never at all out pace for more than a minute so you can really challenge yourself here (my all out speed is 7.5-8mph).


Halfway through class you switch; rowers move to treadmills and treadmills move to rowers (note: some classes are “switch templates” where you switch stations after every block so you’re moving between strength and cardio every 5-10 minutes.  These classes are my favorite because I hate long periods of cardio).

Class ends with a cool down/stretch.  Once class is complete you are e-mailed a summary of your performance.  Here is a screenshot of my results after a typical class:



I’ve been doing Orangetheory on average 3 times a week since my studio opened this past July.  Since I don’t weight myself I don’t have any hard numbers to share with you but I do know that my cardio endurance is the best it’s been since high school and I’ve built/maintained muscle and I know I’m getting a serious calorie burn with each class (580-680 calories is my typical range but this is obviously dependent on your height, weight, and lots of other factors).  I also love that no two classes are the same so I’m always challenged to work different muscle groups.  Like any other group fitness class how much enjoyment you’ll get out of it may be dependent on the instructor, playlist, etc. Every studio likes to host fun challenges on a regular basis for members.  So far, I’ve participated in:

Hell Week (the week of Halloween) where classes are significantly harder and have a theme — these classes are where I’ve gotten my PRs for splat points

Peak Week where there is a different challenge for every class (longest plank, fastest 500 meter row,etc.)

My studio is currently hosting a weight loss challenge for the month of February and there are also themed classes scattered throughout (partner workout for Valentine’s Day, highest calorie burn challenge versus another local studio for the Super Bowl and so on).

I LOVE Orangetheory and it’s my favorite way to work out.  I highly suggest you try it out (your first class is free!) if you have a studio near you.  Thanks for sticking with me through this super long post — if you have any questions shout them out in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them!



More about Kyra

Kyra is a wife and dog mom to an adorable French Bulldog. Attorney by day and health/fitness blogger by night. Lives, works, plays, and eats in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


    1. They just opened one out in DC! I’m not sure if I can commit due to distance and cost since I already have a gym membership, but I do want to try it out!

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