April 14, 2016

Orangetheory Fitness - What to Expect on Your First Visit

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

This past weekend, I organized a group fitness date with my lovely blog squad friends at Orangetheory Fitness. It just so happens that I grew up with one of the owners of three of the locations in Calgary, and in exchange for posting our honest reviews, we were treated to a one hour private class.

I have actually tried out Orangetheory twice before, but that was over a year ago when I was still living in Edmonton. I loved it then, and I loved the workout just as much this time around. Actually, I probably loved it even more because it's pretty fun to workout with just your friends!

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
{The Blog Squad pre-workout: Jen, Becky, Ange, Jen, Kaella, Leigh, Alison, Nicole, Jo, Me, Heather, Leslie}
Anyway, Orangetheory Fitness is quickly becoming the hottest fitness trend and I can definitely see why! Based on the theory of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), their 55-minute workouts, comprised of a combination or treadmill work, rowing and weight training, are designed to produce an increased metabolic rate for up to 36 hours post workout, and the average person will burn 500-1000 calories per class.

How is this measured you might be wondering? Every single person is outfitted with a heart rate monitor at the beginning of the class. You are required to provide your weight and age, and while I considered lying about my weight (har har), you really shouldn't because this data is used to determine your maximum heart rate. Your heart rate, along with calories burned, is displayed on a big screen during the class. This might seem intimidating, but I promise you only have time to focus on your own numbers. Seeing your heart rate displayed helps you to increase or decrease your workout intensity so that you can maintain a specific zone (there are 5 zones). The goal is to workout for 25-35 minutes in the green zone, and 12-20 minutes in the orange and red zone combined.

Confused yet? Don't be! I break it down for you even further...


1. First of all, be sure to arrive 30 minutes early. This gives you enough time to fill out your intake form, put on your heart rate monitor and have an orientation. Whether you are with a private group or not, if it's your first class, the instructor will take you in a few minutes early and give you a run down of the exercises and how the cardio portion works.

2. Wear whatever clothing you are comfortable working out in, but make sure you bring indoor running shoes! There isn't a regular change room like at a gym, but there is a bathroom and a shower room, so I recommend arriving in your workout gear if you can.

3. There are three options when you are on the treadmills for the cardio portion - power walker, jogger, or runner (or if modifications or preference dictate, there is the option of using a spin bike or elliptical). So if you aren't a runner, this class is still for you! Within these three options, you have a base pace, a push pace, and a sprint all out pace. Your instructor will lead you through the workout, indicating which pace you should follow for what amount of time. The first time I did a class I was terrified of the sprint portion, but the sprint pace is never longer than one minute!

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

4. Once your cardio portion is done, you will move to strength training. Or, depending on the number of people in the class, you may start with the strength portion and then end with cardio. Every class is different! For our strength training portion, we did weights, bench jumps, TRX inverted rows, rowing sprints and ab work. There is a screen that shows you which moves to do and how to do them so you never have to worry about forgetting.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

5. Your instructor is a lot like having a private trainer but in a larger group setting. They aren't working out while you are, so they are available to help you out if you get confused with the workout.  In my first class, I found the instructor always made sure to come over and check how I was doing on the treadmill. If you creeping up into a higher (red) zone than you should be, your instructor may call you out and encourage you to decrease your intensity. On the other hand, if you're in too low of a zone, they may encourage you to step it up.

6. The heart rate monitor will feel super uncomfortable at first because it's supposed to be really tight. Once you start working out, you will forget all about it. It's also important to keep in mind that if you aren't used to working out with a heart rate monitor, it can take a few classes to figure out your base pace and just how hard you need to push yourself (or not push yourself) to stay in the correct zone. Also, if you are the type of person not motivated by numbers, or like to slack off in a class, this might not be the class for you. Unless of course you don't care that other people will see your final numbers!

7. It will be the toughest, but quickest workout you've ever done! The hour will fly by and you will push yourself harder on the treadmill then you ever thought you possibly could. You will walk out of their feeling like a million bucks and wondering how soon you can go back! And remember - every class is different and you will never repeat the same workout twice!


Our first 30 minutes were spent on the treadmill. I ran at a jogger pace, and our instructor led us through an interval workout. I had to adjust my pace several times to remain in the appropriate heart rate zone.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

The second half of the class we moved over to the strength area. Here we completed a few different circuits, which included bench jumps, plank and leg raise, chest flies, upright rows, reverse chest flies and 150m rowing sprints. I found myself in the red zone immediately after the rowing sprints when I would jump right back into the next strength move and would have to stop to let me heart rate come down a bit. This portion is timed and you complete the circuit at your own pace. If you finished early, then you were to jump on the rowing machine and row until time was up.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

A short cool-down stretch followed, and then our instructor took us over to the display board and went over our results with us.

Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

  • I'm always intimidated when I walk into OTF, but as soon as that workout begins, I don't have time to think about it. I was amazed at how quickly I fall into the "workout zone". 
  • The class is very efficient - there's no wasted time, no "setting up", and you accomplish a complete full body workout in just under an hour.
  • But you will probably want to spend a bit more time stretching when you get home, as the stretching portion is pretty quick. 
  • Heart rate monitoring during a workout is fascinating. I actually had to decrease my base running (jogger) pace quite a bit in order to stay in the right zone. But when I was allowed to sprint, I was amazed at how fast I could actually run - faster than I have ever pushed my body on my own.
  • Rowing is such a great workout. Our workout didn't incorporate it too much, but it's definitely something I'd like to do more of. (One of the previous classes I did had us bounce back and forth from running to rowing for the cardio portion, so every class is different.)
  • I love group fitness classes because I love being told what to do when I'm working out, so this class is totally up my alley! And you know going into it that you are going to get a good workout out of it. 
  • I love that your results are emailed to you immediately after your class. It's such a cool way to keep track of your progress! 
Orangetheory Fitness review - what to expect on your first visit

  • I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be the following day, but my whole body definitely felt fatigued. 
  • I'd love to find a way to incorporate this workout into my regular fitness regime, but unfortunately the cost is a factor for me right now. Depending on the package you get (there are 3 to choose from), classes range from $25-29. But I truly feel I could be in the best shape of my life if I went regularly. 

Thank you so much to our awesome instructor Kristen for putting us through a kickass workout, and a huge thank you to Orangetheory Fitness Calgary South for the private class!

Have you tried Orangetheory Fitness before? 

Do you enjoy group fitness classes? Favourite class?

If you're interested in what the other girls thought of the class, check out the links to their reviews below!

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