My First Orangetheory Fitness Class

On Sunday morning, I finally had the opportunity to take my first Orangetheory Fitness class. Orangetheory has been on my radar for years and I’m happy to say that the workout definitely lives up to the hype.

It was AWESOME and the 55-minute class flew by. I had a bunch of you guys request more details when I shared a brief recap of my experience on Snapchat, so I wanted to provide a more detailed rundown of the class format, what I thought about the workout and what you can expect during your first Orangetheory Fitness workout.

Orangetheory Fitness Review and What To Expect

What is Orangetheory Fitness?

Orangetheory Fitness is an interval-based workout that uses heart rate monitors to encourage you to push yourself (based on your own fitness level) and includes three different components – interval training on the treadmill, indoor rowing and weight room floor exercises.

Orangetheory Lake Norman

Orangetheory Fitness is a studio fitness franchise and the group fitness classes are typically limited to less than 30 people. Workouts vary day-to-day and often have a certain focus (strength, endurance or power, etc.). An instructor leads the class through a workout rotation on the treadmill, indoor rower and weight room floor and offers form correction, exercise demonstrations, encouragement, cues and more.

What is the flow of a typical class?

During an Orangetheory Fitness class, you can choose where you begin and participants rotate through time on the indoor rowing machine, treadmill and weight-room floor. In the class I took, we rotated through every station three times but, as my instructor explained, you can expect to typically spend a total of 25-30 minutes walking or running on the treadmill (broken up into shorter blocks) and the rest of the class time split between the indoor rower and the weight room. My class also included a five-minute stretch at the end of the workout.

An instructor will lead you through the workout, demonstrating weight room exercises and calling out when to crank up the intensity on the treadmill and indoor rower. I found the cues easy-to-follow and while everything was very fast-paced I never felt lost or overwhelmed.

One of my favorite aspects of the workout from a personal trainer’s perspective is that it is a workout that can be completed at various levels to meet you where you are in your fitness journey. Whether you choose to walk on the treadmill and challenge yourself with inclines or kick things up and sprint your heart out, you can modify the workout to make it suit you and your current fitness level. And I loved how our instructor went around to check on everyone on the weight room floor to correct form and offer modifications. So important and so great to see!

What makes Orangetheory Fitness unique?

The workout was definitely the most high-tech workout I’ve ever done! A big screen above the treadmills displays your name, heart rate, percentage of your max heart rate, calories burned and “splat points.” (I absolutely LOVED the way this information was displayed and found it seriously motivating.)

Orangetheory Cornelius

Heart rate levels are represented by colors and you earn a “splat point” for every minute you spend in the orange or red zone. The orange and red zones are the “after burn” zones that occur when your heart rate is up to or over 85 percent of your max heart rate, allowing you to continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours after the class is over. Basically, you get a splat point when you are working your butt off!

Our instructor said that ideally you’ll spend most of your Orangetheory workout in the green zone – your “base level” zone – and 12-20 minutes per workout in the more challenging orange or red zones.

Orangetheory Treadmill Zones

Throughout the workout, we moved from the treadmill to the rowing machine to the weight bench and I never felt like I was at one station for too long. The workout kept me engaged and interested and the time spent at each station was short enough that I felt like I could give it my all without feeling like I was going to die.

At the end of the workout, our instructor said our stats from the workout would be emailed to us which I thought was way too cool!

My breakdown:

Orangetheory Fitness Calories Burned

Another way Orangetheory incorporates technology into the workout is by displaying the weight room floor exercises on TV screens above the weight benches so you can easily reference them during your workout. (The instructor demonstrates the exercises as well.) In my first class, the weight room floor exercises included a combination of traditional dumbbell strength exercises, bodyweight exercises, plyometric exercises and exercises performed with the TRX straps.

Would I go back?

Orangetheory Locations

Absolutely! I’d love to return to Orangetheory and think it would be a great addition to my workout routine. The one major drawback? They do not offer childcare which is a bummer for me, but I’m hoping to attend some weekend classes here and there as my schedule allows.

I think it’s important to add that I personally would not feel comfortable taking Orangetheory Fitness classes 5-6 days a week as my only form of exercise. (I’m not sure what OTF instructors advise, but I have a feeling they’d recommend the same thing given the style of workout.) The workouts are intense and I think taking classes on non-consecutive days would make the most sense both from a recovery standpoint and a safety standpoint since the HIIT-style workout provided by Orangetheory Fitness is quite intense.

What should you wear? What should you bring to a class?

For my first Orangetheory Fitness class, I wore workout capris, a supportive sports bra, a tank top and my Nike Flyknits and felt great! I saw some participants wearing shorts which would be totally fine, but we did some exercises where our butts were in the air (plank jacks to knee tucks and bench pop-overs) and I personally would have felt a little self-conscious in shorts.

I brought a water bottle with me (highly recommended!) and wish I would’ve brought a towel with me as well, as towels are not provided by the studio.

During your first class, you’re able to borrow one of the Orangetheory Fitness-compatible heart rate monitors to use for free. I was instructed to arrive at my local studio 20 minutes before class began to learn more about the workout, meet with an instructor before class, fill out a liability waiver and borrow a heart rate monitor.

How much does it cost?

From what I can tell, cost varies by location, but for my local studio, here is the price breakdown:

  • $28 for a drop in class
  • $69 for 4 classes a month
  • $109 for 8 classes a month
  • $159 for unlimited classes each month

Clearly it is not a cheap workout!

I asked about gift cards and they said they do have people purchase 10-class packages as a gift for friends/family and the cost for a 10-class package is $199 and you have one year to use the package before it expires.

Another important thing to note is that if you do sign up for Orangetheory Fitness you must purchase the heart rate monitor for $69 or the new heart rate monitor wrist band for $99 to use during your workout.

Questions of the Day

  • Have you ever tried Orangetheory Fitness? Thoughts?
  • Would you ever want to try Orangetheory?


  1. Gen says

    At my local OT, they stated you don’t have to buy the HR monitor if you aren’t one that cares or relies on HR and just want the workout. Your name just doesn’t show on the screen


  2. says

    This is super helpful! I’ve been wanting to do an Orange Theory class for awhile too but since there’s no studios around us I have to plan ahead when traveling:) I’m actually going to Colorado in a month so reading your review of this was awesome as I’ve been thinking about signing up for a class when I’m out there!


  3. says

    I tried OTF and wrote a tiny review of it way back in April 2015 and completely agree with everything you’ve said. In fact, because it’s been over 12 months since my free trial class, you can do another free trial class. (When I had tried before, I LOVED it… but it was too pricey for me to be comfortable joining and doing as my everyday workout over my traditional gym, just like you said.)

    I definitely don’t mean that as a way to cheat the system, but I called the studio near my home to check out the price of a drop in because your review reminded me of it. Super happiness ensued when they told me it was freeeeee! I’ll be popping in with a fellow blogger friend today! 🙂

    Also, I don’t know if it varies by studio, but I know that the two that are around our place in Denver allow you to consistently borrow their heart rate monitors if you become a member. Which is nice, because I don’t want to buy a new one, ha!

    Thanks for sharing!
    XO, Jessica


  4. says

    Thanks for sharing Julie! We have an OTF close to our house and I’ve been intrigued every time I’ve passed it. Now I know 🙂

    Once this little one comes (and I recover!) I’ll have to check it out.


  5. says

    Prices definitely vary by location as I wish our prices were what you posted 🙂 (hello NYC suburbs)

    Right now I have the 8 class/month package and for the most part it works out pretty well. I’ve only had one month where I could have used another class or two. That said, I wouldn’t necessarily want to do this every day, but I do agree that it’s a great addition to my existing routine.

    I think that I personally would still need to belong to a traditional gym as I’m not sure that you can show up and just use the treadmill (or other equipment) during times when there are no classes.

    But I do love OTF! I love not knowing what i’m going to get each visit but knowing that regardless it will be a good workout.


  6. Kelly says

    I just joined a few months ago and love it! I am someone who needs motivation and I find that watching my color really pushes me! I always do treadmill first to get it out of the way! I do the twice a week plan, which is sometimes all I can do in a week but figure it’s better them nothing!


  7. Angie says

    A new Orange Theory is opening up down the road for me so I went ahead & joined at the “founders” rates. It will be open in September and I am so excited to add this to my fitness routine. Thanks for the detailed info 🙂


  8. Kathy says

    I do love Orange Theory! I first tried it 4 years ago when they opened a studio right next door to me. Since they were just starting to get big and it was one of the first ones in Denver, they had a free week trial. I do like to sprinkle in their workouts bc they are pricey. To be honest, I will usually buy them around Christmas time when they have discounts on packages and will use them over the year. I did not buy their new heart rate monitor this time (i just bought one for my garmin and didn’t want to have 2) and just go by how I feel. For anyone that asks about competition… I would say that you are really only in competition with yourself. The instructor doesn’t encourage competition between the other people, it’s much more team atmosphere.


  9. says

    I love going to OTF! As you mentioned above, instructors I’ve seen definitely recommend only doing this workout 2-3 times a week in order to let your body recover. However, I think that applies to all HIIT workouts. It is a great way to get a full workout in, including a good mix of cardio and strength training. I also love the instant feedback of the heart rate monitor- it definitely helps push me to work harder (but not too hard- I usually try to stay out of that red zone). Another great part about OTF is how approachable the instructors make it. Normally I’m intimidated by HIIT workouts, but the instructors are always giving modifications in order to get the best workout for your body. Glad you tried it out!


  10. Leah B. says

    This was so informative, thanks for sharing! An orange theory has been scheduled to open in my neighborhood for months now but apparently they’re behind schedule. I’ve been very intrigued but they’ve been very coy with their prices and now I know why, that is insanely expensive. I could do the majority of that workout outside in my running shoes for free!!!


  11. says

    As an OTF instructor, your review was great! I especially the fact that you share the workout can be for all levels – newbies and athletes alike can do the same workout. Instructors should be giving options in the weight room and modifications for injuries. It really is a great workout for anyone!! Welcome to the OTF Family! 🙂


  12. Kate says

    I did OrangeTheory for a few months, once a week. It is an awesome workout, but with my free gym membership and cheap online Barre3 membership, I found that I couldn’t justify the expense! I wish it was just a liiiiittle bit cheaper.


  13. mary says

    I belong to OTF and love it. I was encouraged to find a group exercise program by my doctor when I told her I wasn’t exercising much (with the exception of walking the dog at a slow pace). I have the unlimited membership and it is my only formal group exercise although I occasionally “drop-in” on spin class. I go 3 times a week on average. I’ve gone 2 days in a row and not had any problems. I did go 3 days in a row and was sore. There’s always the treadmill for half the class (if it’s a “switch” day you might rotate more – which I prefer) but sometimes its a straight 28 minutes on the treadmill – the floor exercises and rowing time vary widely from class to class. I’ve been a member for 5 months and I don’t think I’ve done the same exact workout twice.


  14. Kate says

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I live on Long Island and a few studios are opening in the next few months, so I’m excited to give Orangetheory a try.


  15. Cherie says

    I’ve been going to OTF for a little over 2 months and go 3-4 times/week. I love that they offer a 5 am class where I go so I’m able to be home before hubby leaves and babies wake up!


  16. Fiona MacDonald says

    We just had one open up in our city and I’d love to try it out! Unfortunately with an already pretty pricey gym membership it makes it so hard to get to different more boutique like fitness centers….so glad you loved it! Looks like such a blast and with the constant change in exercises I can see why the class flew by!!!


  17. says

    Great post! I have the same curious mind about Orange Theory. I am from Florida and started seeing these pop up everywhere lol. But thank you for sharing your experience about this it was a very entertaining read!



  18. Dana says

    I joined OTF in June to add some variety to my routine – I was previously only running and wandering around the gym 1-2x a week attempting strength training. It has made a huge difference in my overall strength, endurance, and has made me a faster runner! I wanted to tone up a bit for my wedding this fall and I’ve already seen great results. I go about 3-4x a week, sometimes on consecutive days and I don’t notice any issues! A lot of the exercises can be done in a regular gym or at home so it’s nice to have that option for some extra work outside of the class. Highly recommend it!


  19. Maurianna says

    After swimming in college, there wasn’t a workout I could do that equated to the intensity I had once known. I tried everything – personal trainers, getting back in the water….. and even CrossFit. All had their benefits of course, but nothing has captivated my drive like Orange Theory. I go 2-4 times a week, and I absolutely love it. The trainers at the Chesterfield, MO gym are so motivating, empowering and knowledgeable. I’m SO grateful that my sister pushed me to try it because now I’m HOOKED! 🙂


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