​Bleeding Orange at Orangetheory Fitness

We all know staying fit is hard to do in a city as humid as Houston. You hit up the gym for some cardio and weight, but leave not sure about your performance. Maybe you go outdoors for your exercise and turn an unattractive, ten shades darker. Or you might even be the one who doesn’t bother and instead finds yourself an air conditioned restaurant that serves to-die-for brisket. Most of us choose brisket, hands down. Well now I’m here to tell you that you can get a solid, results-based workout in while staying a desirable complexion (and you can earn that brisket).

I tried Orangetheory Fitness for the first time at Houston’s West University location. After one week of classes, I have to admit, I’m a fan and really looking forward to more classes. Here’s a general breakdown of what Orange Theory is all about:

The Orangetheory Philosophy

Imagine going for a run at a steady, even pace. You feel good about yourself and you’re most likely in a fat-burning zone… but you’re definitely not pushing yourself to your maximum heart rate potential. At Orangetheory fitness, trainers are pushing you to the orange zone where you are training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate.

There are 5 different heart rate zones: gray, blue, green, orange, and red. It is most ideal to aim for 12+ minutes in the orange zone to ensure that you’re still burning calories 24 hours after your workout.


For every minute you’re in the orange or red zone, or at your maximum potential, you earn one “splat” point. These points are reflected on TV screens in the classroom so that you can closely monitor your progress. The main effect of the Orangetheory program is increased muscle endurance, strength, and power.

Class Layout

Each class  typically has 15-25 people and will be set up in stations around the room. The class gets split into two groups: treadmill and rowers. This means you’re either starting the class on the treadmills or on the rowing machines. Halfway through the class, you will switch stations.

While on the treadmills, you earn the majority of your splat points. Your running workout is also quite enjoyable because the trainer switches between a calm base pace, a harder push pace, and an intensely difficult all out pace. The entire process feels like a game.

The rowing machines really serve as building arm and leg strength as well as a transition between sets in the weight room. All the while, your trainer is monitoring your progress and helping you with your form.

OrangeTheory Fitness

Classes Offered

The 60-minute Class: Split into cardio (treadmill intervals) and strength training with weights and equipment. The rowing machines are used in tandem with strength training as a warm up.

Tornado: Switching from three different and distinct sections – treadmill, weights, and rowing. Tornado is a very tough class where you’re not reaching as many orange minutes as other sessions, but definitely building on power and strength. I’m personally, not a fan (yet).

The 45-minute Class: Condensed classes that are very intentional, fast-paced, and intense.

Heart Rate Monitor

For my first class, I was given a heart rate monitor which allowed me (and everyone else in the class) to see how I was performing every minute of my workout. Throughout the class, your rate will be in either gray, blue, green, orange, or red depending on how intensely you are working out and pushing yourself. The goal is to be in the orange or red zone for 12-20 minutes of the class. You get orange “splat” points for every minute spent in orange or red. These statistics are always displayed on the screen for you, kind of like a video game, so you know how much harder you should be pushing yourself in the time limit you have left. I love the competing with yourself aspect of this work out. My splat record is 10 after one week of classes. My goal after this month is 30 splat points (will report back).

Orange Theory Pros

  • You can try your first workout for FREE.
  • It is indeed an intense workout where you see and feel amazing results.
  • No one cares if you suck; it’s a very independent workout where you are your biggest competition.
  • You get the feel of a workout with a personal trainer, without the personal trainer fees.
  • The interval training exercise really builds on muscle endurance, strength, power, and weight loss.
  • There is a data-tracking heart rate system that helps you track and compare your growth results throughout the exercises.
  • You also get a performance summary sent to you after each class.

Orange Theory Cons

  • The membership is very expensive. It varies per club… but yes, it’s expensive. It’s $59 for 4 classes, $99 for 8 classes, and $159 for an unlimited membership. It’s obviously better than getting a personal trainer, and it could be useful for people trying to jumpstart their fitness goals.
  • There aren’t any beginner level or introductory classes. Everyone is placed in a mixed group and competing with themselves. 
  • The classes fill up fast, and even more so at the popular locations like Houston’s West University. You really have to schedule your classes in advance if there’s an instructor you like more than others.
  • If you missed a class, you lose out on both the class and money. 
  • You pay an additional cost for the heart rate monitor which is not included with your workout. And if you don’t want to dish out the money for the heart rate monitor, you lose out on the entire purpose of what it means to be orange. You don’t get to track your heart rate, your calories burned and your splat points.

However, the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion, considering my personal fitness goals. Once I get to the place I need to be, I am moving onto the next fitness fad!

Have you tried Orange Theory Fitness or have any questions about trying it? Let us know in the comments!

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