OrangeTheory is one of the most popular fitness chains in the United States of America. But it has mixed reviews.
On the one hand, it is a brand with millions of loyal and satisfied members, while on the other, you find many people who simply do not like the ideas implemented at OrangeTheory Fitness.
So, what is the general consensus about the effectiveness and quality of OrangeTheory? The decision ultimately boils down to your individual preference. However, like all the other gyms, OrangeTheory is not designed to meet the requirements of every fitness enthusiast in the world.
It does come with certain limitations, even if it offers a lot of benefits on some other fronts.
So, it’s time we ask ourselves an important question – what are the bad things about going to OrangeTheory?
Why OrangeTheory is Bad?
OrangeTheory is not for everyone. Unlike traditional gyms, they stick to the concept of group-based high-intensity interval training for burning more calories and keeping your body fit and toned.
Naturally, it’s not the most popular option among traditional gym-goers. To break it down, here are the many areas in which OrangeTheory Fitness is lacking:
OrangeTheory Has a Rigid Training Style
For all its benefits and science-based workout programs, OrangeTheory follows a specific style of training that may not align with your overall fitness aspirations.
For one, there is zero periodization in their workouts. The idea behind periodization in training is to vary the intensity, volume, and type of exercises over time. This is structured in a strategic way to maximize the effects of the overall workout program.
Dividing the workout routine into periods like peaking and deloading allows your body to have proper time for rest and recovery, helps you avoid training plateaus, optimizes your performance at the gym, and prevents burnout.
At OrangeTheory, you won’t be able to experience the benefits of other types of workout programs like hypertrophy training or cutting. You’ll mostly only be engaging in metabolic activities.
So, OrangeTheory Fitness is not the most suitable option for people who want to stretch their wings and change their training styles to maximize the optimization of their workouts.
OrangeTheory Does Not Focus On Strength Training
The workouts at OTF are similar to boot-camp fitness classes, where all the members are divided into 2 or 3 groups. Different groups engage in different types of exercises like rowing, running, and resistance training.
The class lasts about 45-60 minutes. It’s generally very intense, burns a lot of calories, and provides you with stores of energy.
On the surface, OTF workouts appear to be balanced. But each exercise is generally focused on cardio and splat points to keep the members working at the appropriate heart rate interval.
While such a workout is excellent for accomplishing your weight loss goals or improving your cardiorespiratory performance, it’s not ideal for people who want to build muscle mass while exercising. People who incline towards bodybuilding and weightlifting, therefore, should look for alternatives.
Lack of Personal Attention
OrangeTheory is all about group-based fitness classes. While the brand employs the most qualified and educated coaches and trainers to lead these training sessions, they hardly find the time to check on the form and progress of each member of the class.
As such, many members start performing exercises with improper form and technique, leading to injuries or inefficient workouts.
So, if you are into personal training at the gym, OrangeTheory might not be the best option for you out there.
The Workouts May Be Too Intense
OrangeTheory workouts are all about maintaining intensity, focusing on heart rate zones, and earning splash points while exercising.
Each member must gain at least 12 splat points by the end of the exercise. This would imply that they trained using 80% of their maximum heart rate, which is a big deal.
In many cases, however, elevated heart rate may not be the most efficient way of determining the efficacy of the workout. But all the focus on the heart rate is bound to be stressful for the members.
They will focus more on the intensity of the exercises they are performing rather than trying to perform them correctly and reap maximum benefits from it.
Ultimately, the intensity and the stress might be too much and make your workouts unappealing and cumbersome.
OrangeTheory is not Suitable for Certain People
As we mentioned before, OrangeTheory follows a rigid pattern of training. It’s not like a traditional gym where people with different needs and requirements can walk in and exercise at their convenience.
That is why, OrangeTheory is not the right place for everyone. For example, senior citizens are more prone to dropping out of HIIT classes due to exercise-related injuries.
The cookie-cutter approach used by OrangeTheory Fitness is not the right one for seniors. Moreover, people with joint issues cannot participate in OTF classes either. That is because the workout routines are highly cardio-centric and might put excess pressure on the joints.
Moreover, the stress of maintaining specific heart rate levels might not be good for people with high blood pressure.
Overall, OrangeTheory targets a very specific kind of crowd. If you do not fall under the category of people that it is most suitable for, it’s better you find a different option.
OrangeTheory Workouts Aren’t Good for Beginners and Casual Exercisers
People who want to start their fitness journey are often very enthusiastic. While that is a good thing, it might backfire if you don’t make the right decisions.
For one, many beginners might be attracted by the marketability and brand reputation of OrangeTheory Fitness. However, that decision might be a bad one because of the difficulty of OTF workouts.
Beginners will simply not be able to cope with several high-intensity interval training sessions in a single week. Over time, they’ll get drained and that will compromise the quality of their performance at the gym.
Similarly, people who are looking to get into casual fitness are better cut out for other commercial gyms where they can devise their own programs.
OrangeTheory Workouts Don’t Focus on Progressive Overload
In many cases, OrangeTheory workout routines do not have any structured increase in training intensity and volume. They might basically try to do more work in lesser time.
This defeats the entire concept and the associated benefits of progressive overload.
By gradually increasing the weight, time under tension, number of reps, number of sets, or reducing the rest time between different exercises, you keep the body stimulated enough for muscle growth without reaching a plateau.
While OTF is challenging in its own way, the lack of any progressive overload implies that you are not training your muscles to grow more and are simply exercising to burn calories. This might not be the goal of many fitness enthusiasts.
OTF Workouts Are Prone to Training Plateaus
There’s one thing that you should know before devising a workout program – your body is smart enough to adapt to a linear training model.
Even if you are going to OrangeTheory for the sole purpose of losing weight and burning calories, that might still affect you. The body will eventually adapt to the cardiovascular and metabolic demands of the workouts you perform at OTF and hit a training plateau.
So, you need a training routine that is more structured to your personal requirements. While group-based fitness sessions are good, each member might not be on the same wavelength. As such, the workout will be designed to meet the needs of everyone.
This is a significant disadvantage as you need to adjust the intensity or volume of your exercises to progress beyond a certain point.
HIIT Workouts Increase Cortisol Levels
Research has shown that cortisol levels in your body may rise after a single HIIT workout session. This is one of the reasons why many fitness gurus hate OTF, as it is primarily based on prioritizing high-intensity interval training sessions per week.
Cortisol is a hormone that is released by the adrenal glands when you undergo stress (like physical exercise, in our case). While small doses of cortisol can help our bodies mobilize energy stores and improve our response to stress, chronically high cortisol levels can be detrimental to health, leading to increased inflammation, decreased immune function, some cognitive issues, and so on.
That is why many fitness experts encourage people to engage in HIIT workouts in moderation. OrangeTheory Fitness, on the other hand, is primarily based on high-intensity interval training. So, if you are spending too much time at their studios, you might have higher cortisol levels than usual, leading to all the side effects that we have listed above.
Not the Cheapest Option
If you’re someone on a budget, OrangeTheory is definitely a bad option. You can try out various other commercial gym chains like Planet Fitness and Crunch Fitness.
While OrangeTheory is definitely worth every penny for people who are compatible with their workout programs, it might still be an expensive option for people who cannot spend as much on health and wellness.
Membership starts at $69 for the lowest tier and can go up to $200 for the highest tier in some luxury studios. That is astronomically high compared to the $10 per month charged by Planet Fitness.
So, the expensive nature of OrangeTheory is definitely one bad quality of the globally acclaimed fitness chain.
Too Much Focus on Heart-Rate Monitoring
While members certainly appreciate how much OrangeTheory invests in science-backed workout programs and technology for maximum efficiency, too much emphasis on using the heart-rate monitor can be off-putting and distracting as well.
Members start to focus more on whatever is being displayed on their HRMs than on how well they are performing the exercise. This might make the workout less enjoyable and monotonous in the long run.
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OrangeTheory Fitness is definitely one of the best gym chains in the United States, especially if your goals are to achieve cardiovascular superiority and burn more calories.
However, for people who want a more well-rounded workout routine and strength-based training, it might not be the best option. In any case, the perfect gym for you will depend on your requirements, goals, and preferences.