I took my first Orangetheory class & this is what happened


My first OTF experience. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Orangetheory has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Through my work at Bham Now, I’ve seen some heart-pumping hype videos and encountered plenty of students on a post-class high, but wasn’t sure how I’d do. Read on for my first-hand experience at Orangetheory’s Hoover location.

1. Arrive to Orangetheory EARLY & meet your coach

After signing up online or calling the studio to register, do yourself a favor and show up to your first Orangetheory class early. The OTF team recommends at least 45 minutes before class time—this will give you a chance to tour the studio, go over the equipment and meet the team.

This is where I met Executive Director of Fitness Coach Alex Gray and the OTF Hoover team. They thoroughly went through all components of the workout and asked a few critical questions:

  • Do I have mobility issues or any injuries they should be aware of?
  • What are my goals for today’s workout?
  • Do I exercise regularly?
  • Have I ever done something like this before?

Then, it was time for the real fun to start. Coach Alex gave me a tour of the studio and we even got to test out the equipment, so I felt confident heading into the class.

“When someone takes their first class, they are immediately welcomed into the community. Out of all the things that bring me joy in coaching someone through their first class, the one that I would say is the best is seeing that person investing in themselves.

Their first class with us is their first step towards the life-changing results that they will experience—towards better mental and physical health, self-discipline, self-esteem and higher confidence levels. That’s what brings me most joy, because I’ve seen the joy that first step has led to for so many of our members.”

—Coach Alex Gray

2. Set up your OTBeat Performance Tracker

orangetheory heartate monitor
These help you keep track of your workout. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

A unique thing about Orangetheory is their OTBeat Performance Tracker. Everyone wears one, and your stats (things like heart rate and calories burned) are displayed on a large TV during class. Alas, this means you can’t slack up when the coach turns their back.

I thought there were two pretty cool things about this system. First, it allowed me to see exactly how my body was holding up throughout the workout. During class, I was surprised which exercises really got my heart rate going (power walking with a high incline) and which ones allowed me to keep a steadier pace (rowing). Second, it was a great self-motivator for me to keep pushing, even when I felt fatigued.

3. Get ready to sweat

Small talk? Done. Studio tour? Check. OTBeat Performance Tracker? Locked and loaded. All that was left was to knock out this workout. Coach Alex gave us some (much needed) motivation, and then he cranked up the tunes and we got started.

I started my workout on the rower, then headed over to weight room. The class had a combo of upper body and abdominal exercises, which I appreciated, and there was a solid variety of weights. After about 30 minutes of strength training, it was time for some serious cardio—power walking and jogging with a serious incline on the treadmill.

It was definitely helpful to have Coach Alex keeping an eye on us throughout the workout. In addition to helping me select the most appropriate weights for certain exercises, he also took the time to correct my form to ensure I wouldn’t injure myself by mistake.

4. Cool down & chat with new friends

I got a shout-out for completing my first class. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Once I wrapped up my final exercise (and had a chance to catch my breath) I joined in on the group cool-down and stretch, led by Coach Alex.

I was impressed with the community atmosphere that I hadn’t experienced in other gyms, and enjoyed getting to know some new faces. Coach Alex even gave me a shout-out for completing my very first class, and I could feel lots of positive energy and encouragement from the OTF regulars.

Now it’s your turn

Coach Alex cheered us on the whole class. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Want to try an Orangetheory class for yourself? You’re in luck—there are five different studios across town!

Need some extra motivation? Coach Alex has a few extra pointers for first timers….

“Firstly, being nervous is great. At Orangetheory, we love to remind members that to make a change we have to be willing to get uncomfortable whether that’s pushing the speed up on the treadmill, lifting a heavier dumbbell in the weight room, or pulling back harder on the rower. When we are nervous about doing something that we know will benefit us and we make the choice to commit to it, positive change follows.

Also, know that every person coming in for a first class is nervous. Partly because it’s a new environment for people and also because they care. There is a reason you come into an OTF studio and you care about that reason. When you care about something you naturally want to do well, and this can mean that you are nervous about taking that first step. Once the first step is taken, class has started and you are enjoying the incredible atmosphere of an OTF class having realized that the coach is there to support you in achieving your goals, the nerves are gone.”

—Coach Alex Gray

To learn more about Orangetheory and register for your first class, head over to their website.

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Madison Croxson
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