Is Orange Theory Fitness hard for beginners?

People who are in shape LOVE to post their stats on social media, right? So it can seem super intimidating if you – like me – are not a fitness buff posting lifting videos from your CrossFit workouts. So you may wonder, is Orange Theory Fitness hard for beginners? Too hard? The answer is no. If I can do it, you can do it.

Since April, I have been going to Orange Theory Fitness, a circuit-training style gym with group classes. The night before my first Orange Theory workout, my cousin chatted about splat points and the worst she’d ever done was “3 splat points because she was slightly hungover” and she walked the whole time. I didn’t understand what a splat point is, but I gleaned from the entire story that if she could work out hungover, I could certainly survive an hour as an out-of-shape 40-year-old.

orange theory Hilton head

What to expect at your first visit to Orange Theory

I walked into the Hilton Head Orange Theory Fitness while on vacation.

FYI: You can call and get a free class to try it out.

I’m not sure what I expected, but certainly not a dark room lined with treadmills and rowers and floor sections full of weights. I got the introduction since I was new, and the person walked me through the room. There are three sections: weight floor, treadmill, and rower. Each workout is different. A coach tells you what to do on the rower and the treadmill (like row 200 meters then do 10 squats or run fast for a minute then recover for a minute) so you just follow instructions. Instructional videos show you the weight movements. Orange’s Theory is that you get your heart rate to a certain point for a certain amount of time (level orange) and then you burn fat for 36 hours. You need 12 splat points for this to happen. You wear an arm band and you can check your stats on the screens around the room during your workout. I had no clue what I was about to experience. I went out to the waiting room with my arm band and saw my name on the screen.

When it was time to start, we high-fived marching into class – the first of many high fives that occur at Orange Theory. I got on the treadmill and thought I NEED 12 SPLAT POINTS SO I CAN DRINK MORE WINE ON VACATION AND NOT NEED TO BUY NEW PANTS!

Orange was my goal and I got there and then felt like my lungs were about to burst but I kept going because I needed splat points. And I lifted the weights and I did the rows and the whole time felt like giving up but I couldn’t because I was in a room full of other people doing the same thing and I needed to survive this horrible workout, too. And I lived. And I could barely walk. And I thought “I did it!” and because I did it once I knew I could do it again.

It is the ONLY workout routine I have ever stuck to with any sort of consistency. It’s certainly the hardest I’ve ever worked out. At Orange Theory, you rotate from the treadmill to the rower to the weight floor. Each class is different. Each class pushes you harder than you’d ever push yourself. You measure your progress with a heart rate monitor. Each class I feel victorious. I feel like it’s jumpstarted my workout routine. Going to Orange Theory is like an introductory lesson into working out.

Now that I am in the routine and actually enjoy working out (a shocking turn of events) – I thought I’d give OrangeTheory a review. Let’s get to it.

6 Reasons why Orange Theory is effective

Here are the reasons why OrangeTheory is so effective and a little bit addictive:

  1. Scheduling : the act of scheduling keeps you committed to working out. At Orange Theory, you have to sign up on the app to get into a class – and if you don’t show up, you’re charged. However, the simple act of putting the workout on a calendar – in pen!! – adds a level of commitment that the simple thought, “I should work out tonight,” does not.
  2. Coaching: At Orange Theory, a coach tells you what to do. And the time you have left. Hearing “you have one more minute” keeps me going at a fast pace when otherwise I may slow down and take a walk break. Hearing someone cheer “you can do this! just a minute longer” is incredibly more motivating than just going at your own pace.
  3. Instructing : I am 90% sure I do not look like the coaches doing the lunges and the arm curls, but the little videos on the screen show me what to do and how many reps to do. It’s a mix of exercises and each time is different.
  4. Intervals : Along the same lines, the intervals. Intervals give you a reason to push yourself and allow yourself a break.
  5. Monitoring your progress : You wear a heart rate monitor. Orange Theory segments your heart rate into zones by color. When you’re in the orange zone, you’re earning splat points. When you earn splat points, you’re burning fat. Dipping below the orange zone means you’re not working hard enough. And what’s the point of the misery if you’re not burning fat? Knowing the zones and measuring progress forces you to push yourself to the point you’re really working hard.
  6. Misery loves company: you have a whole class of other people doing the same workout. You can go your own speed so it really is for everyone – but you’re all in it together and that is motivating.

I have gone from power walking to running on the treadmill and pushing myself on the rower. I’ve gradually picked up heavier weights. I am so, so much stronger – and I’ve reached a point where the workout is more enjoyable than terrible. I was so out of shape when I started going, I counted down the minutes until it was over. Now I find myself having to push myself to stay into the orange zone. The biggest difference? I don’t feel like my heart is about to explode out of my brains.

Exercise has turned from feeling impossible to being enjoyable.

The biggest drawback is the expense, which is $150 for unlimited classes per month. The times are actually pretty convenient – but you have to make a specific time.

Ready to go? Suit up in the most flattering workout pants you’ll ever put on – and they are so CHEAP!

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