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. Amber says

    Hi! Just wanted to let you know that we offer a complimentary first class for local residents. Also, prices vary a bit for membership options. That is not the exact pricing of my studio . We offer several options based on your current fitness goals . I promise you won’t find a workout that is more motivating or more fun ! 364 days a year, you are taken through a different workout .Come give us a try ! You won’t regret it


  2. Paige Garrett says

    I love OTF! I’ve been a member for over a year now. I was an unlimited member, but I recently bumped down to 2x/week so i could start sprinkling in some other workouts for variety. I think 2x a week is a much better deal for me- easier on my body, and I tend to push myself harder each time knowing that there’s a limited number of classes I have. I will always be a member in some shape or form though!

    My absolute favorite thing about OTF is the community- the instructors knew my name, knew what injuries I was prone to, what my favorite workout songs were, etc. I felt so supported by the community, and loved that everyone was treated like an athlete, regardless of body type, speed, or ability. I never thought I would enjoy waking up at 5:30am to go to the gym… proved me wrong! I thought it was going to be intimidating, but instead I have found the opposite- that it really does a ton for your self confidence.


  3. Kara says

    I just recently tried OT as well and loved it! They were very thorough with the instructions making me feel super comfortable once the workout started. The only downfall is the cost. If I lived close to one and felt like I would use it on a weekly basis then I might consider it more.


  4. Chris L says

    OTF has been the cure to my fitness rut. As a guy, I typically worked out at the gym with weights and resistance exercises, and no running on the side with some different sports. I started OTF at my wife’s suggestion about one year ago, 2x per week, interspersed with the gym and running. I got to love it so much that I moved to unlimited earlier this year, and now go about 5x/week. I was worried about the lack of heavy resistance/weights but find myself challenged enough that I didn’t miss it. My muscle mass/strength didn’t change, but my overall health and fitness certainly improved. I like that I just need to show up – 5:15 AM, and I actually look forward to it! Somebody else lays it out for you, and you can alter your intensity as needed. It’s never boring, with changing exercises, focus, etc. Sometimes I go hard and get 30+ splat points, other times a little slower and get <20 splat points. I am a little older – almost 45 – and was worried about how my body would hold up. I always seemed to carry some strain or injury. While I understand that the post recommended 2x/week, and this would certainly be a good place to start, I am surprised to say that using OTF as your primary workout several times/week is doable. I have had less muscle soreness, injuries, etc as I have ramped up my attendance. All in all, while not cheap it is highly recommended.


  5. Dave Bozsvai says

    Hi I recently tried OTF and enjoyed the program. I thought the program moved very quickly and was a lot of fun. the instructor was extremely supportive to the point where I decided to sign up immediately after the class. i have to say that immediately after the class I was very tired, and Sore as my fitness level was pretty low. after the class the coach talked to me about recovery. The next morning i felt great and cant wait to go back to my next scheduled session. Rates are what the rates are, and considering if you would have joined a local rec you would not have had the support and push to keep moving . I have been guilty of joining local rec centers for years but dont know how to get a good work out and at times get intimidated by all the fancy dressers in the gyms. While I was beat the day of the work out I felt great the next day. definitely going back


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