I Got Fitter in 7 Days by Doing the Orangetheory Class for a Week (2024)

As a devoted gym-phobe – left to my own devices I don’t really know what I’m doing and end up giving up pretty quickly – group classes were something I had a tendency to go hard on (someone telling me what to do = good).

But, soon, I'd get bored and my attendance would tail off, leaving me back in the no woman's workout land I started in. It's why, when offered the chance to try Orangetheory, a HIIT-based class that features rowing machines, treadmills and being strapped up to a heart rate monitor to measure how hard you're working, every day for a week, I am pumped.

So what exactly is Orangetheory?

Orangetheory Fitness is a one-hour, full body group exercise class, with a different theme for each session: power, strength and endurance.

You can think of it as in the same general vein as a Barry's Bootcamp session, but with the addition of rowing machines. Like BB, this one started life in the USA. And, much like Aussie sensation F45, the studios are franchised. There are a number of locations in the capital, as well as studios in Derby, Winchester, and Altrincham.

What makes it so unique is that during each class you're given a heart rate monitor to wear. Thus displays your data on screens around the room, showing you how many calories you’ve burned – and what percentage of your heart rate (HR) you're currently working at, and which 'zone' this puts you in.

There are five different zones; grey, blue, green, orange and red. The green zone is supposed to be 'challenging yet doable', working at 71%-83% of maximum HR.

Orange is where it gets uncomfortable, working at 84%-91% of maximum HR and red is 'all-out effort' working at 92%-100% of maximum HR.

The goal of each class is to spend at least 12 minutes in the orange/red zone. Why? The claim is that you’ll carry on burning calories for 36 hours after you've wrapped up. This is based on the theory of post-exercise oxygen consumption or ‘EPOC’.

You may have heard this referred to as the 'afterburn effect,' and it's the idea that your metabolism stays raised after you commit to all-out exercise. (Exactly how long this lasts, it's important to note, it contentious and some scientists say that it lasts more like two to three hours, post-training.)

Each minute spent in the orange and red zones awards you with one 'splat point' (more on this, later), which also show up on the screen.

Okay, can you tell me what an Orangetheory class looks like?

Like I said, there's the three types of workout, with each looking a little different.


  • Treadmill: Short and explosive all-outs sprints
  • Rowers: Short distance, high wattage rows
  • Floor: Fast and dynamic moves on the floor


  • Treadmill: Long incline runs on the treadmills
  • Rowers: Aim for high wattage rows
  • Floor: Fewer reps with bigger weights on the floor


  • Treadmill: Long blocks with few all-outs on the treadmills
  • Rowers: Rowing for distance
  • Floor: Slow and controlled movements on the floor

An example workout might look something like this:

  • 20 minutes on the treadmills at alternating speeds
  • 15 minutes alternating between 200m row and x 6 medicine ball squats
  • 20 minutes floor work; 8 reps (each arm) Single arm low row (single arm work helps with anti-rotational movement, helping to strengthen your core)
  • 8 reps bicep curls
  • 8 reps seated shoulder press (seated position to help eliminate momentum)
  • 5-minute cool-down stretch

What it's like to do Orangetheory every day for a week

Day 1, Monday:

I arrive at the Islington studio in North London 30 minutes prior to my first session, where I fill out a form where I’m asked about my fitness goals, current exercise regime (which at the moment is pretty non-existent) and any orthopaedic issues, which helps your coach give you guidelines of what to aim for in the session and how hard to push yourself.

I’m a little nervous as I have no idea what to expect from my first class, as each class different, focusing on either strength, power or endurance or a combination of all three.

The classes are also broken down into blocks, so there will be one portion of the class spent on the treadmills, one portion spent on the rowers and a portion spent doing floor work and using free weights.

It was challenging but enjoyable. It honestly felt good to push myself and the trainers are really attentive and not intimidating, so I felt comfortable enough to slow down if I needed to.

I leave sweaty and filled with endorphins.

Day 2, Tuesday:

One of the coolest things about training at Orangetheory is the use of Splat Points. Splat points refer to how many minutes you spend working at 84% plus of your maximum heart rate, which helps you burn the most calories.

During my session my eyes are glued to the screens as I constantly want to see how hard I’m working myself and how many points I’m getting. It’s also a great indicator of when I need to push myself more, and when I need to slow down and catch my breath.

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One thing I’ve realised is that when I think I can’t give anymore, I usually can, which I can tell from what heart rate I’m working out.

The aim of each class is to score at least 12, and much to my delight I come out with 36 points and 637 calories burnt. Not too shabby for an hour’s workout. I’m told however it isn’t unusual for beginners to score more as your endurance gradually builds up.

The hardest part of today was the rowing. I’ve never really done rowing before and found it tricky to get to get used too and my form kept having to be corrected. I leave exhausted.

Day 3, Wednesday:

By day three of my week-long challenge, I already feel like I’m in the swing of things and actually looking forward to my class each day. I have a sudden change of heart when I arrive at the studio and find out today’s session is endurance-based. I absolutely loathe running and have nada to offer on the stamina front.

However, one of the best things about Orangetheory is that it truly is as hard as you make it. You can power walk, jog, or run on the treadmill portion and there are three different levels of intensity; base, push and all out.

Base refers to a kind of an active recovery/warmup pace–you can maintain it for a long time and if a friend was jogging next to you for example, you’d be able to hold a conversation. Push is then pushing yourself to a point of feeling uncomfortable and all out is giving it absolutely everything you can and emptying the tank.

I Got Fitter in 7 Days by Doing the Orangetheory Class for a Week (3)

You’ll never have to do this for more than one minute at a time, (Don’t worry, you never do this for more than a minute, and you always get to walk right after!)

This totally puts me at ease as I don’t have to over-exert myself to try and keep up with the class and keeps everything at a pace that is manageable for me. It helps that the treadmills are super bouncy as well, so they aren’t as hard on the knees.

Day 4, Thursday:

After yesterday’s endurance session, my legs are feeling a little worse for wear – the DOMs are real. I make it through the treadmill portion of today’s class by power walking as that’s all I can really handle today.

We move on to the floor section and today’s focus is on upper body and core work. My core strength is pretty shambolic as it’s not something I tend to work out when I do exercise. We start off with TXR roll outs.

You start upright, shoulders relaxed holding the TRX straps in front of you at arm’s length, and then slowly lean forward lifting your arms up so your body is aligned ensuring to keep abs braced at all times, then lowering arms to reset.

The coach sees me struggling and suggests moving my feet further from the wall to make it easier. The closer your feet to the wall, the harder the move is.

One thing I’ve really noticed about Orange Theory is how attentive the coaches are to each individual, and make sure that everyone is able to complete each move and do so correctly, something I’ve rarely experienced when doing group fitness classes.

Day 5, Friday:

After one too many G&T’s the night before, my 6am alarm is especially painful this morning. I long to hit the snooze and go back to sleep, but I drag myself out of bed for the 6.45am session I have planned.

My hangover gets worse as I journey to the studio and several times I contemplate sacking it off and heading back to bed. I arrive at the studio and much to my dismay today’s session is endurance.

I felt totally unmotivated and on the verge of tears and contemplate running straight out of the on numerous occasions.

I Got Fitter in 7 Days by Doing the Orangetheory Class for a Week (4)

But I powered though and managed to make it to the end of the class sans vomit. I leave the class feeling proud that I’d managed to make it through (even though only getting myself a measly 11 splat points) and make the best of a bad situation but reminded myself that training on a hangover wasn’t the cleverest of ideas.

Day 6, Saturday:

Today, there's a lot of jumping lunges. I find it really hard to balance when doing them and always wobble, and I can only always manage a few before my legs get sore.

I notice how much hungrier I am during my training; the body is burning so many extra calories that it needs way more to function effectively. I used to be someone who could easily skip breakfast but training every day has made this a no-go.

If I’m training early morning, I’ll usually have a banana before the workout to keep me going, and, post workout I’ll have something like porridge with berries, or eggs and avocado. One cool thing is that training every day has helped me see food as fuel and now breakfast is non-negotiable.

Day 7, Sunday:

It’s the last day of my week-long challenge, and although I am slightly exhausted I’m sad that it’s over. My last session is ESP, which is a mix of strength, endurance and power.

Even though it’s only been a week’s training, I notice how much easier I find using the water rowers than in the beginning and managed to get my 250m row time from 56.7 seconds to 45..8 seconds. It’s not a massive achievement but I’m pleased none the less! I also find I’m able to run at a faster pace for longer, something I really struggled with before.

Orangetheory: my results

I was very sceptical about seeing any kind of results in only a week, but I definitely looked and felt leaner by the end. Fitness-wise, I can spend 30 seconds more running at full pelt on the treadmill, and can now manage 10 jumping lunges on the trot, up from three. Plus, there's the shave off my water rowing time.

I feel like I could tell how well it was working due to how hungry I was compared to normal, the body is burning a crazy number of calories, so it needs much more to fuel it. I’m not sure everyday training is something I would recommend on a long-term basis, but I definitely want to continue with a few sessions a week.

Although I am pretty exhausted at the end of this killer week, I have definitely noticed improvements in my mood, and am super excited to see further progress by continuing training with them.

How much does Orangetheory cost?

Thanks to the franchise model, prices vary according to location. At the Islington branch, you can have your first three classes for £30. You can then get a 'basic' package (four classes a month) for £89, an 'elite' package (eight classes a month) for £119 and a 'premier' pack, of unlimited classes, for £149.

In Winchester, however, basic is £59, elite is £89 and premier is £109. So do check our your local branch.

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I Got Fitter in 7 Days by Doing the Orangetheory Class for a Week (2024)


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