I know you’ve heard of Orangetheory Fitness by now. And you’ve checked out the cost of a monthly membership. So you’re wondering: does Orangetheory really work?
The short answer is yes, but the longer answer involves the reasons why. The longer answer also involves positive side effects that have nothing to do with weight loss.
My Orangetheory journey began in April 2017. My “What is Orangetheory Fitness?” post is still one of my top-read posts each day and I’ve been told several times that it’s given people the kind of overview they needed to make a decision to join. It also has some of my early progress photos — back when I could barely walk on the treadmill without sending my heart-rate through the roof.
Fast-forward to the 6-week body-transformation challenge I did a few months after joining and between these two posts alone, you can see that Orangetheory works all on its own. I was doing three to four classes per week and losing weight slowly but consistently. At this point, I hadn’t added in any kind of nutrition plan.
And then, that July, I broke my ankle. For those of you who follow my Facebook fan page posts closely, you’ll also know that three weeks after the break, I was hospitalized because of a pulmonary embolism (PE). Doctors then and doctors now agree that my heart-healthy physical fitness levels probably helped save my life: “People who are compromised from a cardiac or respiratory standpoint prior to a PE are more likely to suffer increased morbidity and mortality,” said one doctor.
I also bounced back really quickly considering the severity of a PE, and was back at Orangetheory two weeks after my cast came off. All said and done, I was out for two months.
Before I got into what I call phase two of my Orangetheory path (post-break, post-PE), I started incorporating a nutrition program to avoid losing all of the gains I’d made from working out. It worked and I decided to stick with it once I returned to the gym.
This was the extra-special secret sauce and combining good eating habits with my fitness routine really propelled my weight loss. SHOCKER, HUH?!
I eventually worked my way up to four classes each week and have done that consistently (outside of my travel commitments) for the last year — even when it means getting out of bed at 5 a.m. to stay on track.
So, sure, you will definitely see weight-loss results if you do Orangetheory several times a week and nothing else. But if you want to push those results, slow down on the alcohol and sugar consumption and figure out the nutrition piece. I personally use the Arbonne protein shakes and then pack my days with good, whole foods. It’s a system that works for me.
My Orangetheory Fitness weight loss
My original goal when I joined OTF last year was to lose 40 pounds. I’m still stuck on the last five pounds but the good news is that I know why: I have done nothing but travel and indulge all summer! I’ve hit my four workouts per week…when I’ve been home. Wine, ice cream, French fries, foie gras — I haven’t been shy about eating All The Things this summer.
And that’s OK, because I know that when I go back to my protein shakes for breakfast and pay attention to what I’m putting in my mouth the rest of the day that I will go back to losing.
At least my fitness routine has helped me plateau for the last couple of months. And I’m going to call this balance. Because woman can not live on shakes alone. I need those foodie indulgences to feel alive. I’ve never been into self-deprivation and I’m not about to start in my 40s. But the balance is key and I know I need to get back to the fitness and nutrition routine that nourishes my body properly to keep making significant gains.
It took me about a year to lose 35 pounds, and if it takes me another six months to lose the final five, I’m good with that. The last few pounds are notoriously the hardest!
Besides, I have new goals — that aren’t tied to numbers on a scale.
Even when I haven’t been losing weight, I’ve been gaining muscle. The scale might not change, but my clothes continue to fit better each week in spite of that. My “skinny clothes” pile is still getting smaller as those clothes move into my closet (or into the donation bin because they’re no longer in style). My arms are getting ripped.
My strength and endurance have increased dramatically thanks to Orangetheory Fitness workouts, too. I now have to run on the treadmill to stay in the “green” fat-burning zone and I can run without stopping during a 23-minute block.
During benchmark workouts (which happen every couple of months at every OTF around the world), all of my metrics are better each time. Whether that’s going beyond the 300-watt zone on the rower or breaking a 10-minute mile or lifting 25-pound weights when I could once only lift 10, these are all important markers of success — and none of them have a darn thing to do with the scale.
I’m also in a better place mentally thanks to working out. I’m more patient with my kids, less likely to pick fights with my husband and am generally less annoyed by, well, everything. I take out my negative emotions in the gym and, for whatever reason, they tend to stay there.
There are some things that just can’t be measured in numbers, but since the numbers game can be an important one for those investing in a premium gym experience like Orangetheory, there are a few to chew on below this before and after series (I couldn’t wear the same leggings this time around because the ones I wore in 2017 are TOO BIG!):
Since day one, I have…
- Lost 35 pounds
- Gone from a size 14 to a size 8 (or a 42 / 10 in high-end designer labels)
- Gone from a size 33″ jean to a 29″
- Lost a combined 21 inches from my biceps, chest, waist, hips and thighs
- Gone from a base pace of walking on no incline at 3mph to running at a 1% incline at 5mph
- Gone from a push pace of walking at a 2-4% incline at 3-3.5mph to running at any number of inclines at 6mph
- Gone from an all-out pace of walking at a 6-10% incline at 3-3.5mph to running at any number of inclines at 7.5-9mph
- Gone from walking a mile and not finishing in the allotted time to jogging a mile in 13+ minutes to running a mile in 9:48 minutes
- Gone from an average of 100 watts on the water rower to an average of 230 watts on the rower (my personal best is currently 334 watts)