A few months ago, after becoming inspired by this fellow Spoon writer's workout experience, I started taking weekly classes at Orangetheory Fitness in Center City, Philadelphia. For those who are new to OTF, it’s a heart rate-based interval training workout that rotates between blocks of treadmill running, rowing, and/or weight-based exercises. Depending on which classes you sign up for, each hour-long OTF workout is focused on building endurance, strength, or power. The goal in each class is to maintain your heart rate (which you can track using one of their heart monitors) within the “orange zone” for at least 12 minutes to achieve the "after-burn effect" of your workout. 

Sounds intimidating, right? I’ll be the first to admit that I was initially scared to try Orangetheory myself, but after taking my first class, I was hooked. While OTF can be a little pricey depending on which studio you attend, I think every college student should try Orangetheory at least once. Here are five reasons why, based on personal experience with OTF workouts.

1) Your first class is free.

As a college student, most of my money is already going towards tuition, rent, and food. So, when I found out about OTF’s promotional offer for first-time members to try their first class for free, I couldn’t resist. During my first class, my trainer introduced me to all the equipment and explained how to use my heart rate monitor to track my time in the orange zone. After my workout, the staff walked me through all the membership options and recommended which plan would best fit my schedule. While I didn’t feel obligated to buy a membership before I left, I was so impressed with my first class that I decided to buy a class bundle and make OTF a weekly commitment.

2) Orangetheory takes the guesswork out of planning your workouts.

Before starting Orangetheory, I strictly lifted weights or ran on the treadmill at my school’s gym. But, having stuck with the same workout routine since my freshman year, I noticed myself feeling bored at the gym. Thankfully, with Orangetheory, I don’t have to worry about programming my workouts or remembering which exercises to complete during a workout session because the trainer provides cues for every block of exercise during the class. It definitely gives me more time to focus on the workout itself.

3) You can challenge yourself at your own level.

I love that every OTF workout challenges me to push myself and improve my strength and endurance. While I do sometimes compete with the other people in my class, I always have the freedom to scale down my all-out effort so that I’m not pushing myself to the point of injury. Also, since each class incorporates a nice balance between running, rowing, and weightlifting, I know I’m getting a full-body workout.

4) You can meet new friends.

Funnily enough, during my first Orangetheory class, I had met another girl from Columbia who was also taking advantage of their free promotion for first-time members. All I can say is that we’ve been friends ever since! There’s nothing more encouraging than working out with someone who sweats and complains during a workout as much as I do.

5) Orangetheory provides a supportive group culture.

I’m the kind of person who prefers working out alone at the gym, so I was surprised during my first few Orangetheory classes to be surrounded by other members and trainers who are just as passionate as I am about health and fitness. In addition to the regularly-scheduled workout classes, my Orangetheory studio also hosts outside fitness events and challenges that encourage members to meet and exercise together. 

Overall, I’m so glad I made the decision to take my first Orangetheory class because I’ve been going ever since. If you’re near the Philadelphia area, I would highly suggest taking your first free class at Orangetheory Center City. Otherwise, you can find your closest studio here.