A few years ago, I did a review on OrangeTheory after my first visit. I was lukewarm about the experience regardless of all the hype and excitement around it. I have not been back since but over the past 6 months, whether it's at the boys' School, on the soccer field, even at my own gym, over and over again, I'll hear people talking about OTF and how much they love it. Even my amazing hair stylist started going there and talks about it.

So last November, I decided I was going to try and go back for a visit. It's May and I was finally able to make it happen. I have to be honest, it was partially my schedule because I only like 6 AM classes on the weekdays and my weekend sessions with Tricia are sacred and would never think of doing another workout, but it is nearly impossible to get into a class at the UDistrict location. Over the course of the 5 months, there were probably 5-7 direct calls into the studio, several text messages and endless visits to the website to try and get into a class. I literally think every class between 5 AM - 6 AM was booked for the next year. I had to end up taking a mid morning break from work and sign up for a 10 AM class on a Monday. Even then, there was a waitlist but I was lucky enough to get off of it a few days before the class. So fair warning, if you like popular times and want to visit the UDistrict location, be ready for a bit of a wait.

I walked into the studio and immediately noticed the class going on in the side room. You can see the energy and literally feel the sweat coming through the glass doors. It definitely feels like a class I should love. But already, I was dreading the treadmills and the rowers. Just looking at them made me want to turn around and go back home. But I had already told my Mom friends I would be there so I knew I could not bail.

The woman at the Front Desk went through the usual paperwork with me and gave me a quick overview of the heart monitor. They now have ones that you can wear on your forearm (which was new to me) and I figured I would give it a try. She walked me through the check in process which ultimately has you check your name off a sign in sheet and pick up a number for either the treads or the rowers. She had me start on rowers (greeeaaatt!).

She then walked me into the studio to introduce me to Heather, the instructor. Heather is exactly what you would expect from an OTF instructor - she's super fit, friendly and ready to talk you through the workout. One of the first things she asked me was whether I had used a rowing machine before. I told her my fears and my level of discomfort with one and she was great about talking me through form and how to use the computer. What I liked is that she gave me small details that made me feel more comfortable - how to fit your shoes into the foot holder (no one has EVER told me how to make sure you're in correctly!!) and then made sure to walk me through the 60-20-20 form check. 

After that, we walked out to the lobby where she greeted everyone and gave us a rundown of the workout. I am not going to lie, I was still filling a bit apprehensive about the workout. We headed into the studio with high fives from Heather and got going right away. My friend, Pamela, was on the rower next to me so that definitely helped me going. It was a Power day which meant the following:

  • Alternate between rowing 300 m and 15 medicine ball jumping jacks for 6 minutes
  • Move to the Weight Room to alternate between Squat Jump/tap backs on the bench and sit ups
  • Move to The Treadmill for :
    • 1 Minute Warm Up/Base (for me, that was speed 6.0, with a 1% incline)
    • 2 Minute Push (for me, that was speed 8.0 for the first minute, 8.5 for the second minute, with a 1% incline)
    • 1 Minute Base (back to 6.0 with 1% incline)
    • 30 second Burst (for me, that was speed 10.5-11.0, with a 1% incline)
  • Move back to Weight Room for weighted lunches with heavy weights, 12 speed skaters and 8 leg lifts on each leg using the bench
  • Back to The Treadmill for :
    • 1 Minute Warm Up/Base (speed 6.0, with a 1% incline)
    • 2 Minute Push (speed 8.0 for the first minute, 8.5 for the second minute, with a 1% incline)
    • 1 Minute Base (back to 6.0 with 1% incline)
    • 1 MinuteBurst ( speed 10.5-11.0, with a 1% incline)
  • Back to the rowing machine for 300 m and 15 medicine ball jumping jacks for 6 minutes
  • Back to the Weight Room for squat jumps using the bench and Russian Twis
  • Wrap up on the Treadmill for :
    • 1 Minute Warm Up/Base ( speed 6.0, with a 1% incline)
    • 2 Minute Push ( speed 8.0 for the first minute, 8.5 for the second minute, with a 1% incline)
    • 1 Minute Base (back to 6.0 with 1% incline)
    • 30 second Burst (speed 12.0 with a 1% incline)

When I wrapped up my final burst on the treadmill, my Apple Watch had my heart rate at 200 BPMs! CRAZY!! Even during Tabata, the highest I have ever been is 181. There was something incredible satisfying about knowing I had an personal best, even if it was for a split second. It was the moment were I finally felt as though I had burst into 'the zone' and could understand why people love this workout so much.  

For the longest time, I've never felt the need to go to OTF because I think the Tabata workouts I do (especially a Tricia Tabata) are harder and more satisfying. While that statement still holds for me, I can understand why this may be a more effective workout. There's something about running on a treadmill that forces you to keep pace and truly push yourself. While you may take breaks or slow down if you want in other areas, there's no messing around on the Mill.

Heather was the perfect Coach for the workout. She was the perfect mix of positive energy and motivation. But what I appreciated most about her was her ability to connect with people throughout the workout. In the 1 hour class, she probably checked in with me 4-5 times and even provided form checks. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE tips on form. Because I am not a professional or a certified instructor, I find these types of tips invaluable. Heather did a great job of calling out a few things, providing adjustments and then going a step further to explain why the adjustments were important. As a group instructor with a room full of people, music blaring and a timer running, I cannot imagine its easy to watch everyone and provide feedback. So when an instructor goes out of their way to do this, I know its because they care. 

All in all, it was a successful visit to OrangeTheory. I definitely had a break through moment around the workout and even liked it enough to buy a 10 class pack. I'll be back to workout with the Mom crew and see Heather!

Workout Scale:

Cardio: 4/5

Core: 2/5

Legs: 3/5

Arms: 1/5