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Workout I Did (and Survived!): Orangetheory Fitness

I’m always looking for a new challenging workout (why I go to the gym that I do!). And I remember reading Crystal’s recount of her time at an Orangetheory Fitness class and thinking to myself: “Man, that sounds hard/fun! Too bad there’s not one in Kansas City yet.”

Then, boom! One opened in Kansas City — well, Leawood, Kansas, to be more precise. So, of course, I had to check it out. And, after the excitement of BFF Week last week, I grabbed my fit friend and fellow writer (mostly over on FBM!) Jennifer to join me. Hard workouts are ALWAYS better with friends! And that was certainly the case at Orangetheory Fitness.


Here’s the gist of how classes at Orangetheory Fitness work. If it’s your first time, you fill out some paperwork, watch a fun little informational video on what to expect in the class and how to work the equipment and understand the numbers (more on that in a bit), and get fitted with a heart-rate monitor. Then, when it’s time for class to start, you roll in the Orangetheory Fitness room, meet the instructor and get a few more tips on how to use the equipment and how the class will work.

Then, class starts and the sweat starts to pour.

Similar to a CrossFit WOD, every day Orangetheory Fitness has a new workout (it’s a franchise though, so locations don’t differ in workouts). You might do some running or walking, some weight-lifting, some suspension training or gosh knows what else. On the day that Jennifer and I went, we got to “play” (or, try not to pass out) on lots of toys.

We began with a five minute warm-up on the treadmill, where we also got the chance to get familiar with all the data our heart-rate monitors were pumping out. On big flat screen TVs, each person in class can see his or her percentage of maximum effort. This gives you real-time data and lets you and the coach teaching the class know when you need to slow it down and when you need to pick up the intensity.


These were the class results once the 55-minute workout was over. Whoa! Our instructor said having a pyramid shape was ideal for best results.

The whole point — and reason why it’s named Orangetheory Fitness is because they want you to stay in that orange — level 4 zone. This is where major calorie-burning happens and you get the best post-workout metabolic boost, according to Orangetheory Fitness.

We also got to decide what level we wanted to follow on the treadmills for the day. We did a total of three sets of intervals on the treadmills, interspersed with rowing, weights and suspension training. Let’s just say that I started out a little ambitious at the Runner level, did the middle of the workout at the Jogger level, and then did my final treadmill set somewhere between a Jogger and a Power Walker. We did various intervals of running fast and sprinting — with an incline of 4 percent or 6 percent. Holy heart rate spike!


This handy little cheat sheet was on the treadmills for easy reference.

Other fun intervals we did? How’s this one … see how far you can go in six minutes.

  • row 100
  • 10 dumbbell squats + shoulder press (I used 15-pound dumbbells.)
  • row 200
  • 10 dumbbell squats + shoulder press
  • row 300
  • 10 dumbbell squats + shoulder press
  • row 400
  • 10 dumbbell squats + shoulder press
  • You probably see a pattern now … and if you get this far, you’re my shero!

We also did a similar style interval format (as many rounds as you can do in six minutes) with exercises on the suspension trainer, and another of biceps curls while standing on a Bosu, overhead tricep extensions while standing on a Bosu and pull-over crunches on a Bosu. Arms, shaky. Core, tired. Heart rate, up.

Still smiling! (And the shirt is sooo right on.)

Still smiling! (And the shirt is sooo right on.)

The class ended up with a few yoga poses and stretches, and overall, it was a hell of a workout. While I do think the class is best suited to intermediate to advanced exercisers (they say it’s for beginners, too, but a lot of the weight-training moves would be pretty difficult and were fairly complicated for a first-timer — not to mention that even the Power Walker level was darn tough!), I was pretty enthralled with the overall concept and how well they incorporated meaningful data and turned it into a truly effective workout.

I mean, how often are you in a class when the instructor tells you to take it up, and you’re like, “Lady, this is all I’ve got!” Or, you find yourself phoning it in and can’t seem to get motivated to move faster? Yep, with real objective numbers like this, it’s the facts just staring at you. And it’s a fabulous way to make your workout customized to you, even though you’re doing the workout in a group setting. So you can truly work out side by side with people fitter and less fit than you, and all be working JUST as hard. Loved that aspect.

A drop-in rate for classes at Orangetheory Fitness are $25 each, with memberships and discounted packages available. So it’s not cheap, but it truly is more of a group personal training or group coaching session. Definitely worth trying if you’re looking to bump up your results in the gym or want a new challenge. Oh, and they’re adding locations all the time (just got one in Brentwood, Calif.)!

Have you ever tried an Orangetheory Fitness class? What did you think? And what zone were you the most in during it? I think Jennifer and I did pretty well for our first go! —Jenn 

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