Focus On: Orangetheory Fitness

For today’s Focus On post, I’m thrilled to share my Orangetheory Fitness experience with you! I’ve actually wanted to try an Orangetheory workout ever since I first heard about it, and was so excited to see that there is an Orangetheory studio in Point Loma.

This workout is a game-changer, perfect for anyone looking to maximize their calorie burn and reach their fitness goals. In just 30 minutes, I was able to achieve my maximum heart rate while doing intense strength training. And the best part? I spent 12 minutes in the orange zone, which has been proven to have an excess post-exercise oxygen consumption effect (EPOC). Meaning I’m still burning calories long after the workout. Orangetheory definitely lived up to the hype – it’s an incredible workout that keeps you on your toes.

I took my first class last week and here’s what I thought.

Orangetheory Fitness

What is Orangetheory Fitness?

So, picture this: You’re at the hippest fitness studio in town, Orangetheory Fitness. And boy, do they know how to make you break a sweat!

It’s a heart rate-based interval training session that combines the best of rowing machines, treadmills, and an impressive array of strength equipment. Talk about a full-body workout that hits all the right spots! Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, the beauty of Orangetheory Fitness is that it caters to all fitness levels. You can even keep track of your intensity levels with the ingenious green, orange, and red zones displayed right in front of you. It’s like a traffic light for your fitness journey, guiding you towards maximum burn and exhilaration.

Signing up for a class is a breeze, and once you get in there, get ready to unleash your inner beast – from sweat-drenched sprints on those trusty treadmills to powerful strokes on the water rowers. The name of the game here is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and the result? A workout guaranteed to leave you feeling like a superhero. Can you say, “Kapow!”? So if you’re ready to level up your workout game and conquer any challenge, Orangetheory Fitness is the place to be. Say goodbye to mediocrity and hello to a body that’s glowing with strength and vitality!

What to Expect at Orangetheory

A calorie scorcher and a major sweatfest. Like any workout, you get out of it what you put into it, but Orangetheory is a wonderful blend of heart-pumping cardio and muscle-building strength.

When you first arrive, you receive your heart rate monitor (“pod”) for the day. You attach it to your chest strap and during the class, your name and heart rate zone, categorized by color, are projected onto a screen. Blue is the cooldown/warmup zone, green is moderate, orange is fitness and red is the high limit. Ideally, you’ll want to stay within a green or orange zone for the majority of the workout, hence the name “Orangetheory.”

Orange Theory Fitness Logo (Photo Source: Orangetheory Fitness)

You’ll work in either one or two groups, depending on how many people are in class. One-half of the workout is rowing and strength, and the second half is treadmill work. When you’re doing the row and strength portion, you’ll alternate between a variety of exercises (in a set) and rowing intervals (usually by meters). The workout is split into blocks, so each segment is over fairly quickly. A sample row/strength block: bent-over bicep curls (8), jump squats (8), triceps extensions (8), jump squats (8), row 200m. We completed as many rounds as possible in 9.5 minutes before moving on to the next block.

For the treadmill portion, you’ll be doing intervals utilizing your base pace, push pace (1-2 mph over your base), and all-out sprint followed by walking rests. I found this portion to be extremely challenging, especially since I was already fatigued from the row and strength portion. Running is a liiiiitle more challenging after some squat jumps.

Some Things I Noticed

Like any group fitness workout, the quality depends on the trainer and the music. The music for our class was AMAZING and so was the trainer, Allen. I’m used to watching for tips and form cues from fellow trainers and loved that he provided progressions and modifications for each exercise. He walked around the room to give tips and encouragement; I loved his down-to-earth and motivational style.

I liked the fact that they walk you around for your first class (about 5-10 minutes before the class starts) to explain the equipment and flow. Even though it was my first time, and the neon “newbie” sign was clearly flashing on my forehead, I didn’t feel lost during the workout. For this reason, I was able to get into a killer workout even though it was my first time at Orange Theory. I was expecting a bit of a learning curve, but it was great.

Orangetheory Fitness Exterior

Pros of Orangetheory Fitness

The workout changes every day.

This is the best method to prevent adaptation and burnout. They rotate the muscle groups that you emphasize so that you aren’t fully fatiguing the same muscles on consecutive days and can allow adequate rest.

You can adjust and modify according to your specific needs.

Because the strength portion is completed in rounds, you can work on your own time and don’t have to be on the same exercise as your neighbor. This is great for beginners who want to move a little more slowly or those who want to blast through the moves to complete more rounds. You can truly work at your own pace, and during the treadmill portion, they guide walkers, joggers, and runners. You make it your workout and can easily change things up according you your unique needs.

There’s a variety of exercises so you never get bored.

When you’re moving quickly from one exercise to the next, there’s very little time to get bored or complacent. The hour passes quickly and because the schedule changes daily, you can keep your body guessing.

The good vibes and team atmosphere.

I got a great vibe from the Point Loma studio; everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. It made me want to go back as soon as possible!

The mix of strength, power, balance, unilateral exercises, and interval training.

I think the best workout plan is one that combines all of these elements (in addition to flexibility training like yoga or Pilates), and Orange Theory hits all of them. You’re getting strength and cardio benefits in one workout.

There are live results and encouragement.

I found the screens to be extremely motivating during the workout and appreciated the extra guidance. When I saw that I was in the green zone, I knew I was doing okay but that I could push it up to the orange zone. I was able to spend most of my time in the green and orange zones. They email the Polar stats from the heart rate monitor when you finish the workout. I thought was a fun little bit of data to check out.

Cons of Orangetheory Fitness

You shouldn’t do HIIT every day.

While I love the well-rounded workout, I don’t think that you should do HIIT training every day. After a certain amount of time, you start to see diminishing returns from your work. The heart is a muscle and needs rest, just like your biceps, triceps, legs, etc. For this reason, I think OTF would be ideal 3x a week on non-consecutive days.

A lot of time on the treadmill.

If you loathe the treadmill, this may not be the class for you. As you’re on it for about 25 minutes. I don’t really mind the treadmill but could see how I would start to dread it if I did it on a daily basis.

Could be challenging to follow if you’re not comfortable lifting weights.

Since you’re moving through multiple strength exercises, it helps to have a basic idea of standard movements. Each move is thoroughly explained with proper form cues, but I could see myself being intimidated if I was very new at weightlifting. Even though it is possible to modify, I see this as an intermediate/advanced workout.


It’s super crazy expensive. The good news is that the first class is free, but after that, memberships are $$$. I looked into getting a membership, but they don’t have childcare and I’m not sure I’d be able to make the most of a membership. I’ll do drop-in classes every here and there for sure.

Have you tried Orange Theory Fitness or something similar? What’s a workout class that you’d love to try?

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  1. jodie on April 14, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks great info.

  2. jodie on April 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Pilates-tread fusion is an awesome calorie burning class, but its not for beginners.

  3. Kate @KateMovingForward on April 14, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Cool! I’ve never heard of this kind of training before, but it looks awesome!

  4. Lauren on April 14, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I have been doing Orange Theory Fitness (OTF) for almost 2 years come July in AZ! I like it–but agree with all of your points. Trainers make a HUGE difference. This past weekend I did a 90 min class that was almost TOO MUCH. Think I will stick to the one hour classes from this point on!

    So glad you liked it and that San Diego is treating you well!


    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2014 at 1:16 am

      90 minutes sounds horrible haha. i was DYING when it was over

  5. Megan @ The Skinny-Life on April 14, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I have one near my house and was invited to try it, but I have not had the opportunity to try it yet. Based on your experience, it sounds like I better get on it!

  6. Cheri @ Overactive Blogger on April 14, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    This is really cool, thank you for sharing! I have seen them a lot around expos here. The money would definitely be an issue for me, but I think it’s worth trying out once or twice!

  7. Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs on April 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Sounds like a cool workout!

  8. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on April 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    We don’t have one in San Francisco yet, but I’ve heard rave reviews from my friends in Florida who go there, so I’d love to try it out. Thanks for the thorough review.

    • Heather on April 15, 2014 at 1:32 am

      There’s one across from the Marina Safeway where 24 Hour Fitness used to be.

  9. Gabrielle Livesay on April 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I love Orange Theory!

  10. Betsy Kleiger on April 14, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I bought a package to OTF and love it, but the childcare issue is a tough one for me too. Also, I wish OTF posted what the daily focus of the workout was on their website. I have called ahead to see what they are working on to try to balance out my weekly workouts. Please keep the focus on posts coming! I am always looking for new workouts here in San Diego and would love to hear feedback from an un biased fitness professional!
    P.S. Point Loma Sports Club and Bar Method Point Loma offer childcare.

    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2014 at 1:15 am

      i also wished they posted the workout or the emphasis for each day. i’ll definitely post about more classes as i try them!
      good to know! i’m checking out PLSC this week 🙂

  11. Jasmyne Teoma @ SpiceItUpFitness on April 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Haha…I hate to admit this but just the name makes my mouth water, I must be starving :-). In all seriousness though thanks for the review! It sounds like a fun class and I love the fact that they show you how to use the equipment vs. just being thrown in like you are in so many other classes. I don’t quite understand the childcare though. I once worked in a gym which had no childcare because they wanted to attract a certain crowd but when it came down to it, the people in the age range that they wanted to attract had children!

    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2014 at 1:14 am

      it does sound like a tasty refreshing treat haha
      i definitely wish they had child care.

  12. Alyssa @ Lyss the Nutritionist on April 14, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    I’ve never heard of this before. Seems like a lot of fun though!

  13. mary on April 14, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    I saw one here so checked it out online. It sounds so cool but sooo expensive. And excepting the group atmosphere and screens, it’s nothing I can’t do at home. Well, I guess I sold my rower but the rest is around here. ; )

    Thanks for the info!

  14. Domi @ Eat, Pray, Lift on April 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    It sounds fun, especially with each “block” passing relatively quickly. I’d love to try a free class, but there’s no way I’d be able to afford a membership. :/

  15. Kim n on April 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I tried an OTF class when I was on travel in Atlanta. I loved it. It pushed me harder than I ever would have, especially on the treadmill. Running all out for 500 meters at 5% incline? Sure, why not? It is expensive. I wish there was a studio closer to where I live, and I would consider paying for their classes since it does incorporate cardio and strength. I was super sore after my class, so I think a packages class deal would be worth it.

    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2014 at 1:05 am

      you’re making me consider a class pack haha. the workout was SO GOOD, and so much fun

  16. Arielle @ healthypretty on April 14, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try OTF! Thanks so much for walking us through your experience… I think I would really enjoy the program & never be bored!

  17. Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome on April 14, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    I’m so glad you posted about this! An Orange Theory just opened in our town and I was wondering what it was all about. I’m definitely heading to the website to sign up for a class. Sounds great!

    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2014 at 1:04 am

      oh i think you would love it!!

  18. Pua on April 15, 2014 at 3:54 am

    I’ve never heard of this before. It sounds really interesting! We don’t have anything like Orange Theory where I live, but it would be something to try in the future… especially if the first one is free! 🙂

  19. Courtney Bentley on April 15, 2014 at 5:15 am

    I had never heard of the Orange Theory before and it sounds to me like super fun! I love knowing my heart rate throughout a class and the main reason I used to love my old gym Crunch! The Crunch I went to had a heart rate spin class where your heart rate was monitored on a screen, I swear that class pushed me so much and I became addicted to cardio. I sure do miss it living out here in BKK! Lots of Love C

  20. Runner Girl Eats on April 15, 2014 at 6:05 am

    I have taken classes like this but not technically OT. I love them! It’s so nice to switch things up daily and go full force for an hour. But crazyyyyyy expensive.

  21. Lucie@FitSwissChick on April 15, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I would LOVE to take a class one day!! Sounds like a great workout!

  22. Brynn on April 15, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Orange Theory isn’t in my area, but I’ve always been curious. It sounds like a great workout to add into a week. I am always so disappointed when a studio is expensive because I already have a gym membership, so another one with a hearty price tag just isn’t possible.

  23. Caitlin on April 15, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I tried a class and loved it, but the class times didn’t really work with my schedule at the time. One negative, after you go to the free class they are SUPER aggressive in trying to get you to sign up for a membership, even after you explain why you aren’t interested in one. Hopefully the one in your area won’t be so crazy.

  24. Tricia Coniglio on April 15, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I have seen a lot of advertisements for OT & have wondered what it is about. I have been experiencing new things for my fitness and this is on the list. Thanks for sharing.

  25. April on April 15, 2014 at 10:43 am

    WOW, this sounds amazing, i know i would absolutely LOVE it! Going to keep an eye out for one coming to Boston – we tend to get the latest fitness craze classes eventually:)

    Great review, thank you very much Gina!!!!

  26. AR on April 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

    It sounds exactly like Barry’s Bootcamp in LA, but with a rowing machine thrown into the weights.

  27. Erin on April 15, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Up in Newport Beach, they have certain trainers that do 3 rotation classes with up to 30 people! You spend less than 4 minutes on the treadmill/rower/floor for the entire 55 minutes! As someone who can’t run do to foot issues, the power walking still gets my heart rate up! Most also have a bike or elliptical for those who can’t be on the treadmill. Enjoy the Orange Zone!

  28. Julie on April 15, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I saw this on your planned fitness for the week & had never heard of it. Was hoping you’d do a post about it. 😉

  29. Megan on April 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    So happy to see you post about OTF! I have been a member for almost a year now. I attend the Newport and Irvine locations regularly. About 3-5 times a week. OTF has changed my life. When I started I could hardly power walk without losing my breath. Now I can sprint and challenge myself like never before! That is one of the best things about the classes; is how you can go at your own level and build up.

    I actually won one of Newport Beach’s weight loss challenges in November! It was great motivation and something I never thought could be possible. Overall, I have lost about 40lbs with OTF and their fabulous trainers. The trainers are extremely helpful and skilled. They will stay after the class to discuss nutrition and other tips. It is costly, but for something that works… it’s worth it. I really can’t put a price to having my health! I have tried many different fitness programs, and this is the only one that has consistently worked for me. I cannot say enough good things about OTF. So glad you enjoyed it!

  30. Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork on April 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    This class sounds like a lot of fun. Such a great idea!
    Silly question–in between getting up to do weights and getting back on the rower, do you have your own rower the whole time? I wouldn’t want to get back on someone else’s sweaty rower!

    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      yes, you use the same rower. you wipe it down before heading to the treadmill portion, too, so it’s clean for the next group

  31. Laura on April 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    I am SO glad that you posted this- I am a HUGE OTF lover- have been doing it 2x week for the past 4 months and it recently helped me take 10 minutes off of my 10K time. I think it’s completely worth the price because I love it so much and can’t wait to go!

    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      that is amazing!! i already can’t wait to go back

  32. Amanda on April 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    It sounds a little like Barry’s Bootcamp classes (which don’t have rowing…just treadmill and strength). I love those classes but they’re killer (i’m always cursing during class but afterwards I feel like a badass!). I’m going to FL next weekend and there’s an OTF in my hometown so I’m planning on trying a class!

    • Fitnessista on April 21, 2014 at 1:25 am

      i think we have a barry’s here. i’ve been wanting to try it!
      hope you like OTF, too!

  33. Elizebeth on July 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I went with the Elite package, 109 a month. It is worth every penny. My favorite class so far was a class with Jolen. I just had a class with Allen and he was amazing. So encouraging. Wouldn’t let me give up, or grab the rails….I will definitely be taking more of his classes.

    • Fitnessista on July 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      i took jolen’s class last week and LOVED it. i really like all of the instructors! allen reminds me of shaun t.- he makes me work really hard! kat is also incredible

  34. Jennifer on July 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    How expensive is expensive? It looks like there’s one opening up about 25 minutes from me and I think I would really like it. No opening date listed, but I’m interested. I could probably only do once/week anyway.

    • Fitnessista on July 30, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      it varies by studio. in new york, i think it’s twice as pricey as it is here or something crazy like that! here it’s $69/month for one class per week

  35. Stephanie K on December 15, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    After doing the workout, what would you think of incorporating it twice it week? There’s a new studio opening up near me in Poway sometime in January so I’m trying to weigh the workout vs the cost 😉 and I don’t think an unlimited membership is justified for me.

    • Fitnessista on December 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      i think that’s perfect! i would recommend it 2-3 times a week on non-consecutive days, but with how difficult it is, i really think twice a week is perfect

      • Stephanie K on December 15, 2014 at 9:43 pm

        wonderful! thanks!!

  36. Beth Frank on December 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Hello! After getting bored with the typical step and toning classes offered at the big box gym I belong to, I joined OTF in November. I am loving the workout. I am thinking of cancelling the gym membership but not sure what I would do on the weekends as the OTF studio is 30 minutes from my house. I would need to get up early, depending on what session I sign up for. Still thinking on this one. I have already seen a change in my body. My tummy is a bit flatter and I have a ton of energy. If you are still undecided, sign up for a free session. I guarantee you will be hooked!

  37. Caroline on January 5, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I started OTF in late November and LOVE it. A former college athlete who NEEDS someone to push her along, I loved that the trainers help and encourage you the entire workout. After not working out for a few years and getting back to working out with OTF, I am feeling my body start to get toned again and my endurance has picked up incredibly.

    It is super pricy (I pay for unlimited in Atlanta), but I think its worth it seeing as I go 3-4 times a week and need someone to motivate me through a workout. Additionally, I burn between 550-650 calories per workout.

    Definitely would suggest it!!

  38. kate on July 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Love OTF. Honestly I thought for a 55 year old female maybe this was too much for me. After I sat on the bench with a knee injury for 3 months I decided to come back slowly and now back to orange 3x a week but have added yoga 3x a week to stretch and found that to be really helpful in keeping my knees loose.

    If you’re on the fence remember you can always adapt the weights to work for you or you can go at your own pace. I started 18 months ago 20 pounds heavier (40 total pounds overweight) and smoking like a chimney. I had to adapt like crazy. I didn’t care- all I wanted was to get on the path to better health. The cigs are long gone and I have 20 pounds to go. Most importantly all of my bloodwork is normal and I avoided the lipitor and insulin. It can be done. OTF is fantastic.

  39. Debra Couvillier on March 4, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Hey i have been trying to find out what certifications i need to be a OTF trainer could help me out thank you

    • Fitnessista on March 4, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      you will most likely need a personal training certification and a group fitness instructor certification. i recommend AFAA and NASM. call your OTF and see what certifications they accept

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