Workout review: Orangetheory Fitness
Everything you need to know before you try this colourful, heart-pounding workout.
What is it?
Orangetheory is an interval workout split between treadmills, rowing machines, and equipment on a weights floor (including dumbbells, suspension trainers and resistance bands). How much time you spend on each one depends on the focus of that day’s workout, either endurance, strength or power. Think F45, plus running and extra rowing.
The selling point is Orangetheory’s fixation on a magic number: your heart rate. A heart rate monitor calculates how hard you’re working out based on how fast your heart is beating, and your resulting “score” is displayed on screens around the studio. (Don’t worry — everyone else’s score is up there too.)
“The heart rate training zones are grey, blue, green, orange and red, and are based off your maximum heart rate” says Mitch Jones, head coach at Orangetheory Potts Point, explaining that workouts are mostly spent in the green, orange and red zones — respectively corresponding to manageable, tough, and oh-god-I-wish-I-was-dead levels of effort.
The “orange theory” dictates that, the more time spent in this orange zone, the more calories your body will continue burning even after you stop exercising. But even just seeing how your workout score shifts in real time is a good kick up the butt.
“It allows us coaches to customise your workout to your own needs and intensities, knowing when you need that extra push, and when you maybe need to pull it back,” says Jones.
Where is it?
Orangetheory’s shiny new Potts Point studio is located in the heart of Kings Cross — the night-life precinct whose seedy row of strip clubs and bars is slowly giving way to health clubs, hip cafes and posh supermarkets. Like many boutique gyms in this neighbourhood, Orangetheory is housed in what used to be a nightclub. Gentrification!
There are more than 15 other Orangetheorys around Australia: the majority of them in Sydney, but there are a handful across inner-city Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide, and more to come.
When is it?
Orangetheory runs to a timetable, with scheduled hour-long classes in the mornings, evenings and on weekends — so you can’t just turn up whenever you feel like a workout.
How much is it?
The drop-in rate is $35 and a 10-session pack costs $290.
Being able to see how hard you’re working in real time — and especially seeing your score right in front of you on the treadmills — is a huge plus. Orangetheory’s tech is seamless and the heart rate monitors strap unobtrusively to your wrist or upper arm.
At the end of each class a workout summary is automatically delivered to your inbox, so long-time members can chart their progress pretty easily.
Although sprinting on a treadmill or hefting weights might seem pretty intimidating for newcomers, another major pro of Orangetheory is that it scales to any fitness level.
“There are options on the treadmill for joggers, runners and power walkers. On the floor, our coaches are available to provide exercise options to members, if needed, as well as challenges to ensure that everyone if getting the most out of their workout,” Jones says.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see a 65-year-old grandmother of four train alongside an elite athlete and have them both get exactly what they need from the workout.”
Well, it’s really hard, which isn’t actually a bad thing — though expect to feel pretty worn down after your first few sessions.
Orangetheory’s only disadvantages are the same ones that apply to all group fitness: if you’re an absolute unco workout noob, it’s a tough environment to learn the basics. Pay attention to your coach, and ask for help if needed.
Advice for first-timers
The standard rules for any first workout apply: Arrive early to get yourself set up, stay after the session finishes to ask your coach any questions, wear comfortable activewear and running shoes. (And bring a towel!)
“As for the workout itself, I always recommend starting on the rower closest to the coach so that they can guide you and ensure you don’t get lost,” Jones advises. “From the rower and floor you can then watch and hear what the treadmills are doing, so you know what to expect when it’s your turn.”
You’ll also spend your first session or two acclimatising how hard you need to push to get in and out of that orange zone, so don’t be discouraged if your scores are different to everyone else’s.
The final word
I am not a big fan of running or treadmills, so it says a lot that I really enjoyed Orangetheory — my runners’ high kicked in about three-quarters of the way in, and I coasted on those feel-good hormones for days. A highly recommended workout that covers all the fitness bases.