What You Need to Know about OrangeTheory – Is it Worth It?

This post was most recently updated on May 11th, 2019

An OrangeTheory Fitness location opened near my house and I was curious because I like the focus on heart rate monitoring and circuit training that combines cardio and weights. I’m not hard core enough for CrossFit, too low core to keep doing my own thing, and I like the competition aspect to help me stay focused.

OrangeTheory Fitness

What I didn’t realize is OrangeTheory is much like CrossFit in that it’s more than a workout, it’s a culture that has a cult following. People vy for spots and can’t live without the workout. The subreddit OrangeTheory https://www.reddit.com/r/orangetheory has over 59k members. They are intense about all things OrangeTheory! But is it worth it for you? Read on to learn more about what I’ve learned so far….

I just finished my 3rd workout and wanted to help other people who might be as confused as I was/am.

Stay on top of the billing date after your free class.

When a new OrangeTheory opens you can get a free class and lock in a rate. Mine is $139 unlimited. The catch is you have to give up your credit card. Despite their insistence that I wouldn’t get billed without notice, before I knew it they opened, and I was billed.

The app didn’t work to book times and I couldn’t always reach them when I called and their times were so difficult for my schedule. In addition the date the franchise would open kept changing so it was confusing and it was too late to cancel by the time I made it in for my first workout.

I had no idea how often I’d want to go in, but after 3 classes I think 2-3 times a week is what works for me. It’s intense enough that I don’t see myself going as often.

Plus I took a fitness genetics test * and the results said I only needed 30 mins 4x a week to maximize my calorie burn. If you overdo it you can possibly get belly fat from cortisol (stress hormone) which leaves people with a belly even though they’re exercising like crazy. It saves me a lot of time and money knowing the heart rate, intensity and frequency I personally need to get the max benefits from exercise! The test tells me my macros and what supplements will help for my body.

They won’t give me you the founder’s rate – if you change the plan – you pay the regular rate. That wasn’t my favorite! So if you want to scale down to 8 session a month rate (it’s now $99 a month at my gym) you’d pay the regular rate. The nice thing is you don’t have a contract so you can cancel – but you have to give 30 days notice from when your last billed.

Lesson learned: get your first class immediately and find out when the bill date is.

Is OrangeTheory Worth It?

To me it is! Not the unlimited plan but the plan for 8x a month is great for me, thanks to the genetics test I took I’m not spending more than I need to. Some people want the psychological benefits might override it (people get addicted) but if you don’t want to spend any more time than necessary. I’m not sure how long I’ll be a member but I like knowing I can quit with 30 days notice and go back to my own gym and bring what I learned at OrangeTheory fitness with me.

Is it worth it for you? Take a free class or better yet, buy a pack on sale (like their Mother’s Day pack) and try it out first. Just make sure you know how the billing works.

For me it’s worth it for the 2x a week workout. That’s perfect for me. I know that I only need to work out for 4 hours a week to achieve my goals.

How do I know? I took a fitness genetics test. It told me the perfect amount of exercise, macros to eat (how much protein, carbs and fat) for my genetics. In addition, I learned what supplements would help me (for example CLA will only help a percentage of the population and I benefit from it for fat loss).  It saves me a lot of time and money by not over-exercising. OrangeTheory workouts are just the challenge I need without being too much.

Find out classe times at your location.

Individual locations vary but ours is geared for people with full time jobs. I work for myself and have flexibility but at mine the classes start at 5am and the last one is at 8:45am. Then it starts again at 4:30 (which is after my daughter is home from school so I don’t have childcare and can’t go). I wish it had classes up to 11am and hopefully they add more. I’m not an early riser and most of the times they have are inconvenient for me.

Don’t spend the money if mornings and early evening are all that’s offered – wait until they add more times.

You have to buy or rent their heart rate monitors if you want OrangeTheory to track your results.

After you work out OrangeTheory sends an email and track your workouts within the app (calories burned, splat points, minutes in each zone, etc) but if you’re not on their system, meaning if you don’t wear their heart rate monitor, you don’t get the stats.

You can use your own heart rate monitor, like an Apple watch (some people say is more accurate) or get a chest strap or arm strap model from them.

It’s $5 a workout to rent the chest strap and a whopping $10 a workout for the arm version. New they’re about $109 for an arm strap and $79 for a strap (may vary depending on location or exact model, this just gives you an idea of the cost. You might not want to rent it for very long because you can quickly pay more to rent than to own. For that reason, you may want to find a gently used one on eBay (if you go to eBay and buy an OrangeTheory fitness heart rate monitor, I may earn a small commission, no additional cost to you).

I stopped using a heart rate monitor because I didn’t want to buy one and I get enough competition just working out with a group to challenge me. I don’t need to know the exact numbers.

You pay for additional classes (unless you have the unlimited plan).

At my location it’s $99 a month to go 8 times a month. If you want more classes you pay per extra one. I think it’s $18 extra per class (check with your location).

You have to reserve your spot ahead of time, call in or use the app, and you get charged if you’re late. This makes you commit to going and to being on time since you know you could lose your spot and be charged if you don’t.

It’s got its own vocabulary.

There are words like base, push and all out that are part of the OrangeTheory system. It helps to think of making sure you’re in green for base, orange for push and red for all out.

For each class you also track what they call splat points. You’re supposed to hit 12 or more per class so that you burn fat longer after (max your calorie burn). A splat point is earned when you spend one minute in the orange and red zone. They say the funny name refers to the sound of a fat cell exploding.

It may take some time to catch on.

They really need a beginners only class or orientation at OrangeTheory. There’s a lot going on with different groups working out at the same time with one trainer plus loud music. It helps the time go by faster though because they mix it up.

On their website it says: “Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to class time. A team member will ask you about your fitness goals as well as any orthopedic issues we should know about.

After explaining how the class works, a coach will lend you a heart rate monitor to wear. Depending on your fitness level, your coach will give you guidelines for what to aim for during your workout.” This wasn’t communicated to me so make sure to ask if they don’t tell you.

There are numbers on each machine. You grab a card with a number when you come in and you stay with your group. So you have #10 on treadmill, then you’ll get on the #10 rowing machine (they will be across from each other and means you won’t have to adjust the straps on the rowing machine each time) and #10 in the weight area. Not knowing that, I picked anywhere that was open each time and probably annoyed others without knowing it.

You can go at your own pace and fitness level.

While OrangeTheory seems to attract a type A crowd, you can opt out of having your name/stats on the screen. You can choose to be a power walker, jogger or runner which is really just how intense of a workout you want. They show modifications for floor and weight exercises so you can go at your own pace and level. Don’t be intimidated.

My favorite thing about OrangeTheory is I leave feeling like I got a complete full body workout. I feel stronger and it’s only been 3x! My fitness level is improving so fast. Too bad I don’t have my body fat and measurements so I know more about those changes. OrangeTheory should offer that to everyone, even if it costs more, because it probably will.

This isn’t cheap but it’s efficient – you get a lot of fitness improvement for your money in each hour long workout. I’ve hired personal trainers for more money and not felt the results I’ve already felt so fast from OrangeTheory.

*affiliate link, this fitness genetics test was the best money I spent on weight loss and fitness!!

Does orangetheory work for weight loss?

All over the app it says they don’t guarantee weight loss but depending on your body/genetics you should. If nothing else you’ll get a complete workout that will help you feel so fit. 

Have you joined OrangeTheory? What did you like/not like about it?

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