Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
Basic color theory will tell you that orange hues are stimulating and evoke enthusiasm, happiness and determination. After just one 60-minute Orangetheory class, it’s clear that the new interval training franchise picked the right color.
Orangetheory is built around the physiological concept of excess-post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). During EPOC, the body continues to burn calories at a higher rate (even though the workout is over). The goal of an Orangetheory trainer is to get each one of their class participants to work for 12–20 minutes at a rate of 84% or higher of their maximum heart rate, thereby producing EPOC.
How do they do this? A constantly changing combination of running, rowing and strength training, all set to an upbeat soundtrack of high-energy music and personal encouragement. Also important — all participants are outfitted with heart rate monitors that are synched to screens mounted at the front of the gym, providing a real-time visual of their fluctuating heart rates.
With more than 225 locations and growing, it’s likely that an Orangetheory gym will soon be popping up in your neighborhood (if there isn’t one there already).
Here are 10 reasons why Orangetheory might be the workout for you.
1. Those 60 minutes need to count
You don’t have the luxury of “cardio days,” “core days” and “leg days.” You’ve got a few precious hours a week to work out, and you need to take them for all their worth. Orangetheory is a full-body workout that incorporates both cardio and strength training, so you’ll never have to choose between one or the other.
2. No two workouts are the same
Lots of workouts tout the variety factor, but Orangetheory makes it a guarantee. The more classes you take, the more comfortable you’ll become with hopping on and off of the treadmills and rowers and handling the free weights and TRX suspension training. But thanks to their careful programming, you’ll never repeat one of their signature workouts.
3. It’s founded in science (and by a woman entrepreneur)
While the workouts are varied, they’re certainly not random. Ellen Latham, M.S., an exercise physiologist and former celebrity trainer, founded Orangetheory based on her experience, education and training. Additionally, all instructors are trained and vetted by an Orangetheory master trainer.
4. You prefer to just be told what to do
Some women embrace the freedom and alone time that comes with a solo workout, while others benefit from the guidance of an instructor. If you identify more with the latter, Orangetheory is good option. Instructors tell you not only what to do, but for how long and at what intensity.
5. “Run ’til you puke” workouts? No, thanks.
You want a good workout, but you’re not interested in scaling barbed wire fences or pushing the physical limits of the human body. Orangetheory will certainly challenge you, but you’ll actually only spend about 20 minutes or less in Zones 4 and 5, your maximum effort zones. The rest of your time will be spent at a sustainable base pace or in recovery.
6. Cross-training simplified
While some have adopted Orangetheory as their primary workout of choice, others use it for cross-training purposes. Runners and cyclists, for example, can use classes to help balance out their distance training with core work and moderate weight lifting. And since most of the rowing and treadmill work is divided into short, high-intensity bursts, athletes can get in their speed work.
7. The “after-burn” effect
Most participants burn upwards of 500 calories per class, which is great all on its own. But EPOC, that “after-burn” effect mentioned above, is the gift that keeps on giving. Those 12–20 minutes spent in the high-intensity zone buy you an increased metabolism for 24–36 hours following your workout.
8. Guesswork-eliminating technology
Ever walk out of a fitness class and wonder, “Did I work hard enough?” Effort and exertion can be hard to gauge, especially if you’ve just started working out. Orangetheory’s heart rate monitors help keep you on track during your workouts. If you’re not sure if you’re in the appropriate zone, you only need to glance up at the screen to get confirmation.
9. Customized performance metrics
While the group dynamic can be motivational, the only person you’re competing with is yourself. You’re not racing for time or tracking reps; “success” is determined by your individual performance, which is personalized based on your height and weight. And all that great data on heart rate zones and burned calories doesn’t disappear after class – it’s emailed to you or uploaded to an app, making workout tracking simple.
10. All abilities are welcome.
Because Orangetheory’s workouts can be scaled and modified, it’s entirely possible for a rookie and a fitness buff to take the same class and reap equal benefits. Power walking can be subbed for running, and free weights in varying sizes are available. And, while cycling isn’t a core part of the workout, a handful of stationary bikes are available for those who are unable to walk for extended periods of time.
We independently source all of the products that we feature on oxygenmag.com. If you buy from the links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission, which in turn supports our work.