I tried an Orangetheory workout – which claims to burn up to 1,000 calories a go

Looking to spruce up your fitness routine with a new gym class? Or perhaps you’ve completed Barry’s Bootcamp Hell Week and are looking for a fresh (and equally spicy) challenge? Step forward: Orangetheory Fitness, a US franchise that now has 8 sites across the UK, spanning London to Manchester.

The group workout uses heart rate monitors and claims not only to burn up to 1,000 calories in one class, but also to encourage the body to continue burning them long after the sweat sesh has finished. Keen to learn more about this beast of a workout, I headed along to the Orangetheory Islington studio.

PS. whilst it should go without saying, here’s a quick reminder: although losing weight (which requires being in a calorie deficit) can be a positive health choice for some, it’s not right for everyone and is always best done after a chat with your GP. If you think you might have a problem with body image and weight loss, Beat, the eating disorder charity, are always there to listen (and if that’s the case, perhaps this article might not be one for you, as although Orangetheory does focus on cardiovascular health and body strength, it also mentions on calories).

What happens in an Orangetheory Fitness class?

I headed down to the Orangetheory Islington studio to find out and learnt that newbies are instructed to arrive half an hour early (which at first I thought seemed a bit excessive… but discovered is because you’re met by a coach beforehand to discuss your goals and fill in some paperwork).

Upon entering the orange-tinged studio, I was handed a form which asked for my motivation for working out, along with basic details such as age, height and weight. A coach then came over and talked me through how the heart rate monitor aspect of Orangetheory works. They strapped the device to my upper arm and said it would stay on throughout the 60-minute class. While using the heart rate monitor, my name would appear on the digital boards around the studio, along with my fellow classmates’. Meaning, yep, if you’re competitive in nature you’ll be able to see how you stack up compared to the rest of your group.

The class itself changes each time, meaning you’ll never come to Orangetheory Fitness knowing exactly what’ll happen, but there are some basic structures observed: each class lasts for 60 minutes and involves a combination of treadmill time (where you’ll switch between jogging and running at full pelt), rowing machines, and floor work (such as weights, burpees and planks etc.). You rotate around these three stations throughout the class.


OrangeTheory Fitness/Mark Robinson

I actually loved being able to use the digital boards to see how hard I was working, according to what activity colour zone I was reaching. As for how that colour system works, if you’re in the grey zone, you’re probably not moving very much at all – with green, you’re getting there and performing at a moderate pace, but what you really want to be aiming for are the orange (84-91% of your maximum effort) and red (92-100%) zones. It spurred me on far more than I thought it would.

I’d say the class was similar to F45 (another fitness franchise), given that it involved rotating around the room to different stations. Only for me, personally, it was better than F45 because there were less stations involved – meaning you have more time to figure out each activity (and hopefully, perfect it) before moving on to the next.

I found Orangetheory was the ideal balance of moving around often enough to stave off any boredom, but also getting a proper chance to get to grips with the moves, or hitting a good stride on the rowing machine.

What are Orangetheory splat points?

Excellent question, thanks for asking – I did too. After your first class, a coach will then talk you through your results. Mine (as you can see below) show that I earned 29 splat points in the class, which are points given for each minute that you spend in your red or orange zone (or working at your maximum effort).

Anywhere over 12 splat points is seen as good, as according to Orangetheory Fitness’ method, your body will then continue to burn calories over the following 24 hours.

The general idea, they say, is based on the science of EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). “If you challenge your body at the right intensity, your body will work harder to recover oxygen lost during exercise. This revs your metabolism and makes you burn calories long after your workout is over,” Orangetheory says. However, it’s worth noting that not all scientists are in agreement as to how long this “after burn” effect really lasts – some say it’s more in the region of a few hours.

Orangetheory fitness review what happens in class london uk calories burned splat pointspinterest

Jennifer Savin

How many calories can you burn doing Orangetheory?

During my first class, I managed to singe through a whopping 636 calories – but I could see that other people in the class were hitting the 900s (hello Mike, as seen in the above picture, just below my results). They say you can burn up to 1000 calories per class and having now done one myself, I don’t disbelieve it. However, it’s important to caveat that this calorie burn score is based on Orangetheory tech alone (I didn’t have a smart watch on to make a comparison with).

My coach also explained that it’s normal to start off doing Orangetheory Fitness by racking up loads of splat points – but as you go on it will become harder to earn them, as your fitness levels increase. You’re also emailed a report of your results after class, so you can track your progress.

How much does Orangetheory Fitness cost in the UK?

Prices vary slightly depending on which studio you go to and whether or not you commit to a membership, but at the Islington branch where I worked out, you can one class for free with a 30-day ‘love it or your money back’ policy.

A ‘basic’ package of four classes a month is £109 (which has risen by £20 since 2020), an ‘elite’ package (eight classes a month) comes in at £139 (also a £20 rise) and a ‘premier’ pack, of unlimited classes, is £149 (this has stayed the same).

Comparatively, Altrincham offers the ‘basic’ package for £99 and the ‘premier’ at £129. Prices correct at the time of publishing.

Visit the Orangtheory Fitness website for more information

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