My Thoughts on Orange Theory Fitness After One Month

I survived my first month of Orange Theory! (I actually just finished up my second month, but it took me a while to get this post published) Here’s a look at how it works and what I find good/bad about it.

How Orange Theory Works

Each class is led by an instructor who calls out cues throughout the class. There are different stations around the room and the class is split up among these stations. Typically there are between 15 – 25 people in a class. You usually switch stations just once during the class, although I have been to a few unusual classes where we switched more than once.

  • 60-Minute Classes: The class is split up into cardio (intervals on a treadmill) and strength training with weights and equipment. There are also rowing machines that are occasionally used in tandem with the strength training (usually to warm up).
  • Tornado Classes: This class is split into three sections: treadmill, weights, and rowing. I just experienced this for the first time and it.is.tough.
  • 45-Minute Classes: These are condensed versions of the 60-minute classes that are usually even more intense and fast-paced.

Heart Monitors

You wear a heart monitor and everyone’s heart rate is displayed on a screen during class. Your heart rate will be in a blue, green, orange or red zone based on intensity. The goal is to be in the “orange zone” for 12-20 minutes of the class. You get orange “splat points” for every minute spent in orange zone. You can look up at the screen and see how many splat points you have, which is helpful for knowing when you need to push yourself harder. So far my splat point record is 32!

Treadmills

I’m actually surprised how much I enjoy the treadmill section of the class, since I don’t like being on a treadmill on my own. The instructor calls out different cues such as “base pace,” “push,” and “all out.” You spend most of your time on the treadmill between your base and push pace, with occasional all out sprints. You can walk, jog or run on the treadmill. If you walk, you increase your incline on the treadmill for the push and all out pace (and it’s no joke — usually 8-15 incline). For joggers and runners, you increase your speed for the push and all out pace. You usually earn the most splat points from the treadmill.

Weight Room

The strength training is tough and always different. The instructor will show you a block of 3-6 strength exercises. You do a certain amount of reps of each exercise for each block, and then repeat the block until time is up. The goal is usually to get 2-4 blocks in before time is up. There are usually 2-3 blocks in a class, so you end up getting a ton of different exercises in. You use a mix of weights, TRX bands (these are fun), bosu balls, and more. I have even been to some classes where all we use is our body weight, and this can be very difficult (think: lots of push ups and core work).

The strength training blocks are sent over to the franchises from the Orange Theory corporate offices each day. So, in theory every OT is doing the same exercises each day. However, I have noticed most of my instructors go off plan or modify these exercises to be even more difficult. Someone told me the intensity of the strength training can vary greatly based on your studio location and instructor.

Rowing Machines

These are mostly used to warm up if you are starting in the weight room. However, sometimes you will switch between the treadmill and rower or jump on the rower in between weight blocks. The Tornado classes feature a lot more time on the rowers.

This video sums everything up well:

The Good

The Heart Monitor Keeps You in Check

Here is why I love the heart monitors: they’re a reality check. When I’m on the treadmill running and my mind starts saying I better slow down because I’m not a runner and I’m gonna die if I keep going, I can look up at where my heart rate is and see that I’m actually nowhere near death. This is a reminder that yes, my body can handle this and yes, I can push myself even more. I check in on my heart rate every time I want to stop doing one of the exercises because I’m certain I’m at my physical limit, and sure enough, my heart is not on the verge of exploding. You can’t argue with the heart monitor (unless yours is broken, like mine was one day when it told me I had a 0% heart rate — that’s when it’s time to worry).

You See Noticeable Progress From Class to Class

I should mention I still really suck at Orange Theory. I’m usually the slowest/most out of shape person in the class. I can’t do every single rep or every movement perfectly. As someone who likes to be good at things right away, this has been a good lesson in humility. But my progress after 4 weeks was insane. Seriously, things I never thought my body could do I am now doing pretty well. Example: I am now running on the treadmill (I do not run). After a month, I could tell a difference in my body. I didn’t have a significant weight loss, but things are definitely getting more toned, especially my arms and butt!

No One Gives a Crap How Much You Suck

They make it very clear when you sign up that no one in the class is going to pay attention to you. I thought my level of suckitude would surely draw attention, but so far I’ve gotten hardly a glance from anyone. Everyone else is trying not to die as well, so they are totally unaware of anything you do.

You Get a Fun Performance Summary Email After Each Class

Within minutes of leaving the class, you are sent one of these fun graphs that breaks down your performance. If you were so inclined, you could use this info to set up a spreadsheet tracking your progress.

orange-theory-performance-summary

The Bad

It’s Expensive to Go Regularly

If you are used to paying the typical gym membership fee, Orange Theory is a steep hike. But it’s still cheaper than a personal trainer.

The rates vary based on location, but in Tampa it’s as follows:

  • $25 for a drop in class
  • $59 for 4 classes a month (plus $15 each for additional classes)
  • $99 for 8 classes a month (plus $12 each for additional classes)
  • $159 for unlimited classes each month

There are also packages available where you pay for a bundle of 10 classes, 20 classes, etc.

There are No Beginner Level or Intro Classes

You are immediately thrown into the gauntlet as a beginner. I really think they would benefit from having a beginner or fundamentals class once or twice a week. For someone like me who has very little experience weight lifting, I would have liked an introductory class that focuses on some basic weight lifting movements and how to perform them with correct form.

Class Space is Limited

You book classes online or on the phone. Some instructors and time slots are very popular, so  you need to book a few days in advance for a guaranteed spot. This may be annoying for people with unpredictable schedules. They also have a strict cancellation policy and you will be charged for cancelling without sufficient notice (I think you have to cancel 10 hours before a class to avoid this fee). I don’t mind the cancellation fees — it’s good motivation to show up!

Not Enough Mirrors

This obviously will be different from studio to studio, so this is just a nitpicky thing about the studio I go to. In my studio, we don’t really have mirrors to check our form during weight lifting. I have found the one tiny spot in the weight area that has a sliver of a mirror and claim this as my spot so I can see part of myself while lifting weights. Maybe dancing made me too reliant on mirrors to check my form. Meanwhile, at my studio we have mirrors in front of the treadmill so I make awkward eye contact with myself and the people next to me in the mirror.

The good definitely outweighs the bad, which explains why I’m hooked! I’ll be following up with another post soon about beginner tips for Orange Theory.

Have you tried Orange Theory or have questions about it? Let me know in the comments. :)

My New Fitness and Nutrition Plan

Sorry about the cliffhanger in my last post. :) I figured it would be easier to split things up instead of having one giant ramble.

fitness-quote

I’m turning 32 next month. The abundance of advice I have read about being in your thirties all seem to spew the same nugget of wisdom: get your health under control now, because this is when things start going south. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be in good health my entire life (knocking on some IKEA wood right now), but it’s definitely in the back of my mind that my luck will run out if I don’t take better care of myself. Eating right is the first step, but I know long-term health will depend on staying active.

I’ve never been someone who enjoys exercise.* While I grew up dancing, that never felt like exercise to me. I like to walk, but walking outside in Florida during the summer could be used as a torture method. I’ve had gym memberships over the years, but I never really knew what the heck to do with weights and found the cardio machines boring. But I think by far my biggest exercise setback is that I’m a crappy self motivator. I don’t push myself enough to make much of a difference. Plus, my exercise routines were normally only a short-term complement to whatever weight loss quick fix I was doing at the time. Fitness was never my goal.

Given the above, you can imagine my trepidation about trying out Orange Theory Fitness, a high intensity interval workout that uses a mix of treadmill, rowing, and weights. It was once described to me as “Crossfit for women,” but judging by some of the ripped guys in my classes, that is not the case. This is a kick butt workout for everyone. And it’s the type of workout I would typically have zero interest in, because I never thought I could do it.

After hearing some very positive things about Orange Theory from some very fit members, I thought what the heck. Your first class is free so it didn’t hurt to just go see what it was like. I was certain I would cry/faint/get injured/something catastrophic would happen and that would be the end of my Orange Theory experience.

Well, something surprising happened that day. I went to my first class and while I really struggled, I realized if I could stick to something this tough, I would definitely see results. I signed up for a month of Orange Theory (you can just go month-to-month rather than sign an annual contract). My goal was to go 3 times a week for a month and see how I liked it. I was still pretty confident I would weasel my way out of it at the end.

I’m almost done with week 4 of my first month, and something even more surprising has happened. I’ve not only stuck with it, but I’ve totally fallen in love with it. Not only do I leave my classes panting, sweating, and near passing out, but I also leave feeling strong and excited for the next class.

This is starting to sound like a paid infomercial. I promise this is not a paid post, I’m just a raving fan.

In addition to Orange Theory, I will also be walking 2-3 times a week. This is pretty easy to do since I work from home now and like to take walking breaks during the day.

That’s the plan for fitness. I will write a thorough review of the actual Orange Theory experience once I officially finish my first month.

As far as nutrition, I’m using My Fitness Pal to track my food. You input your age, gender, height, weight and how much weight you want to lose and it tells you how many calories you need to eat every day to hit your weight loss goal. My daily calories are 1,300, but with all of my workouts it ends up being a lot higher. After you put in your exercise, it recalculates your daily calories to account for that. For example, after burning 545 calories at Orange Theory, I got 1,856 calories for the day.

my-fitness-pal-diary

Believe me, that feels like a ton after 26 Weight Watchers points. You can also set daily goals for your “macros” (fat/protein/carbs), so I’m aiming for 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat each day.

I went a little nuts with protein on this day since I worked out.

my-fitness-pal-nutrition-breakdown

Another thing I like about My Fitness Pal is you can set a notification for it to remind you to track meals (example, I get a reminder at 9:50 am if I forget to track my breakfast, then another one at 1:50 pm if I forget to track lunch, etc.). Since I suck at tracking my food, this is a big help so far.

I can also track my weight in My Fitness Pal. I’m still not sure what I am going to do on that front. I’ve toyed around with the maybe posting my weight here once a month for accountability. I still don’t know if I want to weigh in weekly, monthly or what.

So, there’s my new plan. Nothing crazy, but a much-needed change to keep me focused and motivated.

Have you ever tried Orange Theory or used My Fitness Pal? I’d love to hear your thoughts/tips!

*I do love me some Zumba but unfortunately that doesn’t have a strength component.

The Next Phase

Ready for a bit of a shock?

I cancelled my Weight Watchers subscription last night.

I have spent the last few weeks contemplating whether or not to continue with Weight Watchers. I have barely tracked since the beginning of the year. I have also only attended a handful of Weight Watchers meetings. I’m paying almost $45/month for something I’m just not using. I haven’t gained weight back but I also haven’t been losing any more. I  felt stuck the last few months, so I’ve decided it’s time to change things up.

get-fit

Hopefully these biceps will be a little more impressive in the coming months…

 

I’ve lost 32 pounds and dropped two clothing sizes so far. I’m extremely happy about what I’ve accomplished, but I’m still about 15-20 pounds away from the weight I think will be best for me. I’ve decided on my ultimate goal at the end of all of this: I want to be in good shape. I want to be fit. I’ve put so much focus on eating and losing weight, but I have neglected this aspect of healthy living in recent months. Other than walking, I wasn’t doing exercise that would actually change my fitness level.

Lately I’ve been struggling with which matters more: what the scale says or how my body looks? If I’m happy with how I look but never reach an arbitrary “goal weight,” isn’t that OK? For now, my answer to that is a big YES.

I’m still a huge Weight Watchers advocate, but I look at it as training wheels I desperately needed at a time when I was out of control with my eating. It helped me rein in portion sizes, form a healthier relationship with food and my body, and in general give me a lot of structure to lose 32 pounds. Weight Watchers changed my life and put me on a path toward better health. I can’t stress how much I have gotten out of it. But I feel like for the next phase of my journey — getting in great shape — I need to try something else. I’m going to take the valuable lessons and fundamentals I learned from Weight Watchers and apply it to this new phase of my journey.

For one, I can’t rely on Weight Watchers for the rest of my life. Between not tracking my food diligently and skipping meetings, I’ve already proven that Weight Watchers isn’t a sustainable plan for me — despite it working for me for 6+ months. If I’m truly changing my lifestyle, I need to do it in a more self-sufficient way that doesn’t rely on one particular program. This means I will need to periodically evaluate what is and isn’t working and tweak my nutrition and fitness accordingly. What I do today will probably be different than what I am doing in a year or even 6 months, and that’s OK.

My biggest issue with Weight Watchers is it makes me obsess over the scale (this is true for any weight loss program). I had started gaming the system, too. The day before my weigh ins, I’d be perfect. I wouldn’t eat or drink anything before heading to my Saturday morning weigh-in. Then I’d usually be lax throughout the weekend and spend the week “making up for it” so I’d be all set for my weigh in.

I still feel an imaginary finish line looming in the distance. I have to hit that number, or else I have failed. Honestly, it is a little scary to get closer and closer to my goal weight. My big fear about finally getting there is I will obsess about maintaining or I will gain weight back.

At the same time, I do know weight is a tangible measurement of progress. But I’m either on the scale every day or I’m hiding from it. I know this isn’t healthy. I need to wean myself off of using my weight as the ultimate sign of success. By focusing on my fitness, I think it will help me be less obsessed about my weight. In fact, it seems like when I maintain an exercise routine my nutrition falls into place because I don’t want to undo my hard work in the gym.

In my next post, I will share my new plan for getting fit and getting to my goal weight. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I’ve joined Orange Theory Fitness, so that is a big hint. Stay tuned…

Week 22: Weigh Watchers Weigh In

I got some bling this week…

weight-watchers-25-charm
For every 25-lb increment you lose on Weight Watchers, you get one of these charms. Yes, I think it’s cheesy, but that didn’t make me any less excited to get it.

It had been a while since I’d been to a meeting, so the 3.6 lbs I was down at this weekend was a cumulative loss over several weeks during January. But I finally got past the 25-lb mark, for a total loss of 26.6 lbs on Weight Watchers and 30 lbs total since the beginning of July.

In the meeting, I was asked to share some differences losing 25 pounds has made in my life. I can’t even remember what I said (it definitely wasn’t eloquent at 9 am on a Saturday), so I’ll be thinking that over and writing a post about it soon.

I Would Usually Quit Right Now

In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I haven’t given up on Weight Watchers or gained back a ton of weight. This month has been a hectic blur between cruising, mourning a loss, flying to NYC for 18 hours to get a new cat (long story), new job stuff (more about that later!), etc. I’ve missed quite a few WW meetings so I haven’t done my usual weekly weigh in updates. My weight is still hovering around where I was during the holidays.

imperfections-quote (2)

I was gone for a week on a cruise at the beginning of January. I was up about 4 lbs after my cruise but I have since taken it off. I ate and drank whatever the heck I wanted during the cruise. I did work out a few times and walked a lot, so that may have been the difference between gaining 4 or 10 lbs. [Read more…]

Week 20 & 21: Weight Watchers Weigh In

I haven’t fallen off the wagon! Sorry for the lack of checking in over the holidays.

I’m about to head off on a week-long cruise, but wanted to post an update before setting sail. (Hopefully my cruise tips will come in handy once again).

Last week I was down 0.8 lbs. This was just 0.2 lbs away from my official WW 25 lb milestone. My leader tried to get me to take off more clothes/go to the bathroom, but I refrained. I know I will get there soon enough, no need to try and trick the scale. :)

This week I was up 1.8 lbs. I expected this after eating/drinking a lot on Christmas! This will be good motivation to not go to crazy on my cruise.

In January, I’m going to commit to being better about tracking my food. I have definitely been slacking on that the last two weeks.

Happy New Year and I’ll see ya next year. 😉