Subscribe to receive exclusive news, workouts, giveaways and more!

Workout Tryout: Orangetheory Fitness

The Basics

The hour-long Orangetheory Fitness classes focus on strength, endurance and power, ricocheting from treadmill to rowing machine to TRX straps to free weights to body weight moves and back again. A heart rate monitor tracks exertion; your stats (calories burned, heart rate) display on a big screen. The trick is to stay within certain target zones (five to be exact) for certain percentages of the entire workout. The orange zone is where the magic happens: Spend between 12 and 20 minutes performing at 84 percent or more of your maximum heart rate and the resulting afterburn can smolder for up to 36 hours post-workout. (Science calls the phenomenon excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. We call it lots of calories burned after the hard work’s been done.) The franchise has several hundred locations across the country and the world. We tried New York City’s Chelsea outpost, which opened earlier this year.

The Experience

We started out fast and furiously with alternating rounds of rowing (200 meters as quickly as possible) and squats before moving on to more rowing paired with TRX push-ups (a triceps version, too), burpees and chest and shoulder presses with dumbbells. Once we transitioned to the treadmills, which are visited several times throughout, work consisted of sprints (30 seconds to a minute) followed by longer stretches at an easier base pace. (If you’re not a runner or just not feeling it, you can power walk the intervals.) Workouts change daily and instructors gamely demonstrate modifications—a nice touch for pregnant women and new moms who are feeling their way back into post-baby fitness.

The Verdict

Fast, challenging, satisfying. The constant variety keeps things interesting and though it’s tempting to keep your eyes glued to the big screen at first, you’ll figure out how to read the data and tailor your efforts accordingly. “The heart rate monitoring is a tool, not a distraction,” says Ellen Latham, Orangetheory founder. “It is terrific for keeping one motivated and inspired. We all want to see and feel we are getting better and this system is set up for constant feedback.”

124 W. 23rd St.; 646-588-0133;

As always, check with your health care professional before starting a new workout.

Add your comments