I am not ashamed to say that I’m a gym rat. The gym is one of the places I feel my absolute best. Before I moved to Florida, I had been going to the same gym for about two and half years. It had nearly everything a workout junkie could need, but I never had a crush on it (as I did for the WREC during my college days). Then I quite my job, moved across the country, and left my gym membership behind. You always appreciate something more once its gone, isn’t that so?
For the first six months in Florida, Nick and I checked out a variety of gyms in the area, meanwhile getting our sweaty on via at-home workouts, runs in our neighbored, and inconsistent workouts at the base gym. The base gym is incredible (all the functional fitness and olympic lifting equipment one could need!!), and I’d go there regularly in a heartbeat, but it is not practical as we don’t live close enough.
Long story short, an Orangetheory Fitness studio opened up just a few miles from our house (conveniently located to the brand new Sprouts). I knew of Orangetheory, but had never tried it. I was apprehensive of having a studio type membership which wouldn’t allow me the freedom to workout at my leisure. I am all for intuitive exercise, listening to your body, and moving in a way that feels good to you.
That said, I also enjoy a high intensity workout and my body does well with metabolic conditioning. Nick and I tried a complimentary class at the end of June and had a lot of fun. I went back and forth about getting a membership for a few weeks, but ultimately decided to try the unlimited membership when they were having a promotion.
It’s been exactly four weeks since I hopped onboard the OTF train, and I have done 15 classes/workouts in that time. Here are my thoughts so far…
What is Orangetheory Fitness?
“Backed by the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC), Orangetheory’s heart rate monitored training is designed to maintain a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. We call it the afterburn. Our members burn an estimated 500 to 1,000 calories in 60 minutes. And keep burning calories for up to 36 hours.” – Orangetheory®
What I Like
– The variety: Every class is different! Not only does it keep the workout interesting, but it challenges my body by doing different exercises nearly every workout. There are “power days”, “endurance days”, and “ESP” or “endurance strength power” days, so some workouts are focused more on cardiovascular endurance while others are target at strength and power. Since the classes are group personal training style, I don’t get to choose what exercises I do compared to if I were to design my own workout in the gym, i.e. yesterday’s exercises on the strength floor were 80% core-focused — I would have never programmed that for myself in a hundred years!
– The accountability: You have to sign up for classes in advance to reserve a spot in a class; this is done through a handy app. Since you’re required to plan in advance (and are charged if you miss a scheduled class), you’re held accountable for following through and completing your workout.
– The app: Speaking of the app, it’s not fancy by any means, but not only does it allow you to schedule and cancel classes easily, but it also tracks your workouts. I like being able to look back and see the work I’ve done. Again, while I embrace intuitive exercise and listening to my body versus religiously counting stats from a tracker, I think it’s neat to see a collective of your workout stats. In addition, to the app, you also get an email with your stats after every workout.
– The “afterburn”: I am sore after most every workout, and if I’m not sore, my muscles are fatigued. I will recognize here that this is a sudden increase in interval training for my body, so I’d only expect it to be sore. Because of this, I haven’t really done many other workouts aside from OTF in the past month. Between OTF and taking Koba on walks, my body has been feeling really good. Now all I need is to stretch…
– The mental benefits: As I mentioned, I feel best moving my body, and that’s often in a gym setting (if not out in nature). The endorphin highs are exactly what I’ve been missing. When does a workout not put you in a good mood!?
– The music: This is a small thing, but it really is nice not to have to worry about your own workout music and mess with earbuds or constantly be skipping through a Spotify station. So far I love the music choices – it’s loud and motivational.
What I Don’t Like
– Focus on calories: I don’t focus on calories in regards to my diet, and likewise, don’t feel the need to when it comes to exercise either as they don’t relate to or support my goals. I assume the “calories burned” aren’t entirely accurate, so it could potentially throw someone off who does pay attention to calories. OTF also has weight loss challenges which I definitely don’t support (fast weight loss), but obviously I choose just not to participate in such activities/programs.
– Heavy on running: A lot of the workouts are heavy on the running, but understandably so. Using the treadmills is an efficient way to get your heart rate up and into the desired orange zone where, in theory, you’ll see an increase in calories burned during and after the workout (hence the “afterburn”). I simply love lifting weights, so some days I wish the majority of the class was spent on the weight floor.
– Lack of coaches: The studio I go to is very new and only has three coaches, which doesn’t seem like a lot to me. Luckily, the classes I go to most are taught by my favorite coach, but I guess I was surprised there weren’t more.
– Membership cost: The cost of the membership is not cheap. For this reason alone, it prevented me from signing up for several months. Boutique fitness gyms are “in” right now, and they’re all getting away with silly high class prices.
– Late fees: If the base membership cost wasn’t high enough, you are charged extra for canceling a class late (less than 8 hours ahead of time) or missing a class. #accountability I haven’t done this, but I’ve been charged twice by accident, and it’s super annoying.
– I wish the classes were a full 60 minutes (rather than 50-55 minutes) and I wish my studio offered the 90-minute classes, at least on the weekends. I discovered a nearby studio offers one 90-minute class on Saturday mornings, so I may have to check it out.
– As a brand new OTF member, I don’t feel like I was introduced to the gym very well: how studio-specific things work like check-in, “tread cards”, the OTF lingo, etc. I’ve had to ask a lot of questions.
I’m rolling into my fifth week of classes, and the most important thing is that these workouts are making me feel good. In just a few short weeks, I feel like I am already noticing changes in how I feel physically and mentally. While the cost of membership surely isn’t cheap, right now the cost is worth it for my overall happiness. I know that OTF will not be my sole mode of fitness forever, but it’s fitting the bill right now, I look forward to the workouts, and am enjoying the change of pace (hah, literally!). Yay for trying something new and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.