June 8, 2016

Why Orange Theory Fitness is not for me

When I signed up for Orange Theory Fitness back in the winter, it was with excitement and anticipation of a new way to cross train, in a class setting.  Granted, my current gym offers classes, but they never were at times that worked with my schedule.  So a once a week membership to OTF was my plan to start and then if I enjoyed the classes I could change my membership to include more.


Pros:
Energetic and lively instructors:  While I only attended 4 classes, the instructors were all professional, trying to have a bit of fun but also well versed in the class of the day. Each instructor was very fit and tried hard to engage us as we entered and left the studio.  They also asked before we entered if there was anything they needed to know about our fitness/potential injuries or if we intended to use the treadmills or the alternative bike or strider.

Schedule of classes:  While I don't have an exact number, the classes are available pretty much all day long. At the moment our studio offers 34 classes per week, but that probably changes depending on studio members and demand. With early classes for the before work crowd and early evening for the post work crowd and many in between, it is hard to have an excuse to miss class. Registration for classes is simple to do online and assures you place at the time you would like to go.

Facilities: The gym has plenty of equipment including treadmills, rowers and free weights.  The front desk area, lockers and bathrooms are well equipped and seemed clean and tidy.  Most of all, it was impressive that the front desk staff knew many of the members by name after your first or second class.

Cons:
One size fits all: Every class is the exact same on any given day in all parts of the country.  While each class is new and different, everyone does the same workout. The cardio portion of the classes includes a lot of treadmill work which is not something that works well for me. Three days of week of running is usually my maximum. So instead of the treadmill,  I tried the strider (elliptical) and the bike,  30 minutes or so of weights and rowing are also part of the classes which worked well.  Another blogger Coco, wrote a review of the class experience in case you are interested in all those details.  You can read that here

Spotting for weights: There is a free weight portion of class and this is probably my biggest worry about OTF.  As an older athlete, I have some issues such as a weak shoulder from years of tennis and a lower back that needs babying from time to time.  There is virtually no spotting when using the hand weights or for that matter checking to see how you are performing the individual exercises.

Class size: 24 in a group fitness class is not excessive, but for older athletes, having a little attention is important.  When one instructor is busy trying to keep everyone on task, it is hard for them to answer questions or help out.  You are pretty much on your own during the class. It was surprising how little camaraderie there was between participants.  Maybe this is a bit of an unfair assessment because I belong to such an inclusive and fun coached running group.

Pressure to perform: When using the cardio equipment, the encouragement to reach your push pace is emphasized over and over again by the instructor.  They walk around to check the numbers on your equipment to make sure you are doing everything at their specifications.  There is a digital board that shows your calories burned and what level you are performing at with orange being optimal.  Wearing a heart rate monitor is key to ensuring all your statistics are available both during and after class.

Unfortunately, Orange Theory Fitness was not the right class setting for me, but I have not given up on group classes.  There is another studio in town that offers classes without a cardio portion so that is next on my list for cross training.  OTF is hugely popular and several of my friends love the classes. It's great to have options!

Ever tried group classes?  Orange Theory Fitness?
(Pam)

37 comments:

  1. Pretty sure it wouldn't be for me either. Actually, the only classes I like at this point are yoga classes. I'd probably enjoy spin too, but that would be it. I'm spoiled from working out with a coach!

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    1. I agree that being coached is really good. But I enjoy working out with other people too.

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  2. I totally agree with you. I was actually having a conversation about OTF with a client of mine yesterday (who started at OTF) and he had many of the same things to say (and he is in his 20s!)

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    1. Interesting that someone younger could have a similar reaction to the classes. I'm sure they are great for some, but not for me.

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  3. I would think 24 people is actually pretty many to have in class regardless of your age. I'm not a fan of group Fitness classes. My sister does much better in that area! -M

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    1. I do like group classes but this one just was not for me. Doesn't L teach classes?

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  4. I like group classes because I tend to work out harder in a group setting. But I no longer belong to a gym, and therefore have not tried OTF, although I have heard of it.

    I'm willing to be the camaraderie is a gym to gym thing. I know a couple of people who belong to a local gym, and the main reason they do is that it's very social!

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    1. I wish you live nearer and we could go to class together! Maybe most people do work harder with a group setting.

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  5. Thanks for the shout-out! It's really interesting to hear about your experience. One thing that really impressed me about my OTF classes is that the coach DOES watch us doing the strength moves to check our form. I haven't worried too much about doing what he says on the TM as long as I'm getting my HR up I won't raise the incline to 10% while running! There's not a lot of chit-chat during my class, but sometimes we try to make small talk waiting to come in -- I'm not very social at 5 am!

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    1. Oh I would not expect any socialization at 8 am. However, I was going at 8 am and mostly it was Mom's who had just dropped their kids off at school. (my guess). I'm sure OTF is great for some, but there were too many things that made it not a great fit for me.

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  6. I'm definitely interested in trying out OTF but not sure about making it a part of a regular routine. Now that I'm done personal training for awhile group classes will be my norm this summer. You've definitely gotta find what works for you. Thanks for this assessment!

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    1. Oh you should Mar. I think it is great for some, but it just wasn't the right fit for me. It is quite expensive, something I did not mention.

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  7. We have OTF here but the closest one is just a little too far away to be convenient. You make excellent points.

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    1. Thanks, I'm probably in the minority, but you have to figure out what works best for yourself.

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  8. Its so important to remember that not every fitness class or program is for everybody. That's the great thing about there being a wide array of choices. We're all able to find the class or program that works best for each of us. Just because something seems to be the "it thing" lately doesn't mean its the right fit for each of us.

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    1. OTF seems to be so popular now, so I was very excited to try it. I'm not sorry for that, but a little disappointed it did not fill a need for me. It's really convenient to my home.

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  9. I've been wondering about OTF but, yeah, it doesn't sound like it would be quite right for me either. Thanks for the review! I've never been one for group classes...it seems I much prefer running around for hours all by myself, haha. ;)

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    1. Yea, I prefer running to most every exercise, but I need to cross train too.

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  10. I have a few friends who do Orange Theory and really enjoy it. They've tried to get me to try it and I haven't, but I like your review/assessment. You did go to 4 classes so I feel like you gave it a good shot, but these are all really valid concerns! Even with the class times though, ours gets crazy crowded at the peak classes and people cannot get spots. I would also be concerned that if a runner used the treadmill more in the class, it might make you really sore or tired for any runs that you have? So I'd probably opt for the non-running cardio part, too.

    I like how you pointed out the concerns for older athletes and this made me think a lot about the group classes I do. I agree that 24 is a large number, especially when a class involves weights and form and people need attention. It is especially important if your class members are older, or beginners, have had injuries, etc.

    My gym's group classes have little camaraderie. I went to spin yesterday and no one spoke to me, not even the instructor. It's really different from the running community or something like Without Limits.

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    1. I tried to be fair in my review, and at the end of the day, OTF is probably a good fit for many people, just not me. And being prone to injury since I am small, I worried about the whole free weights portion of the class.

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    2. The class is 24 people, but only HALF are doing weights, not everyone at once. Half start on the treadmills and the other half does the weight room, with a great coach, and I realize not all studios have great ones , but he or she can safely monitor the weight room, while coaching the treadmills. Our coach also demonstrates each exercise beforehand as well, while offering modifications.

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  11. It wouldn't work for me!

    Too old. Too out of shape.

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    1. You are not too old, and not too out of shape. However, you might feel the way I did about the running portion on the treadmill.

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    2. Never too old !!! And you do not have to be a runner to go to OTF... 50% of the class is usually power walkers.

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  12. Interesting review, thanks! I'm hoping to try a class at some point so I'll keep this information in mind. I agree that the pressure to perform and lack of spotting would make me nervous too.

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    1. I'll be interested to hear what you think about the classes. Fortunately, I am too old to worry if the instructor did not think I did enough push during parts of the class.

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  13. I've heard a lot of buzz about this, but I never really knew much about it. I really like your pros and cons and it's great to read an honest review. I think that one of the most important principles in fitness is that there is no one-size-fits all approach, so the fact that everyone does the same and there's so much pressure to do it at a certain level is a turn off!

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    1. I don't want pressure during a class other than pressure I have to perform well. It just was not a great fit, but many people will enjoy it. It is certainly popular.

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  14. I did CrossFit for a few years and always kind of laughed at the fact that I was paying so much money to do the work myself. I thought about trying Orange Theory, but it's pretty pricey around here. 24 does seem like a large class when there's a lot of movement, especially with weights. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    1. I thought Orange Theory was expensive too, but something I just did not include in my review. Honestly if I had loved the classes I would have just paid the money, but it just did not work out.

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  15. Thanks for the review! I haven't tried Orange Theory but everyone's been talking about it. I'm curious to give it a try but I do think I'd prefer a smaller class setting so that I have a bit more personalized attention!

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    1. I think everyone should try classes to see what works for them, but I thought it was important to give a review based on my experience.

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  16. I haven't tried Orange Theory but have heard a lot about it. I don't think we have it here where I live though. Good for you in realizing what you need!

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    1. One size does not fit everyone, and this just wasn't right for me.

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  17. I've not tried OT, but my friends who have, loved it. Of course, they signed up together as a group so they already knew each other and got the camaraderie you found missing. Here's hoping you find the perfect cross-training workout!

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    1. Going with friends would probably make it more fun, but the other reasons I mentioned are probably a reason it still would not have worked for me. Tomorrow I am trying another group class with a friend. Hopefully it is better.

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  18. My old gym had two great TRX instructors. One was very tuned into making sure your form was right so that you were balanced and strong; the other was a great motivator. I miss that as a cross-training option in a group setting. It was great for building core strength and balance. The TRX instructor at our current gym never fixes anyone's form (class of only 2-4 people). That bothers me a lot. Poor form isn't helping those people paying $30/class to get strong!

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