Tired of curling cans of beans on a yoga mat in your apartment? While Orangetheory’s free online At Home™ workouts will continue for those who are not able to return to the studio just yet, more than 900 locations are already welcoming members back.
To ensure a healthy return, Orangetheory has reduced class capacity, modified class scheduling to allow for disinfecting protocols, and provided staff with personal protective equipment.
“We have an internal COVID-19 task force that works closely with the medical advisory board to operationalize and educate upon the protocols; we meet almost daily to stay abreast of any new information as it becomes available,” says Dr. Rachelle Reed, Orangetheory’s global director of fitness science.
To get an idea of exactly what it’s like to head into the studio right now, three Orangetheory members, all from different cities, shared their first class back experiences.
The Importance of Personal Fitness
Why do you work out?
Fatima Macalaguin (Nurse practitioner in Chicago, Illinois): It’s a mental game, more than it is physical and wanting to feel a certain way and look a certain way. It’s a mental thing. It’s the 45 minutes, it’s the hour, that you don’t really notice there’s a pandemic going on, even if you are working out with a mask, or even if class sizes are smaller. I need it for my sanity, for my routine, and just to feel normal.
Chris Strub (Social media consultant in Greenville, South Carolina): I’m self-employed, so my work, my career, depends heavily on my fitness: my physical fitness, my mental fitness, my emotional fitness. When I started with Orangetheory, I noticed all of those things improved and were sharper.
Karen Freberg (Associate professor in Louisville, Kentucky): I use that time for me, just for health and fitness, and it’s been the best investment ever. Being able to take time to exercise is a stress reliever, it makes me sleep a lot better. If I go a couple days without working out I’m bouncing off the walls, just because I have so much energy. Even with COVID, doing the home workouts, taking that hour, 45 minutes, it really made a world of a difference.
Finding Orangetheory Fitness
When did you start your OTF journey?
Macalaguin: A lot of my nurse friends were all posting about Orangetheory two years ago, and so I was curious. I couldn’t find the right regime of working out. The gym wasn’t working. I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted. I ended up trying that first class, and I was just addicted from there.
Strub: I joined Orangetheory on January 2nd of this year, so I’m relatively new to OTF. I’m sure a lot of people have that same New Year’s resolution-type experience. I live across the street from my Orangetheory location, so I have seen for two years lots of healthy people go to and from the gym every 60 minutes, and I decided to go check it out. I had always been sort of intimidated by the idea of Orangetheory, but once I tried it I was immediately hooked.
Freberg: Three years ago in December my sister started taking Orangetheory classes out in the D.C. area, and she was like, “Karen, you need to try Orangetheory,” and I had heard about it — I had a few other friends who were doing it — but I never really experienced Orangetheory. So, I went to my first class and it was so intense in a good way. I felt great afterward. I came back to Louisville and decided I was going to sign up. Since then, I’ve loved it; everyone’s been very welcoming and supportive. I try to go pretty much every day.
Returning To Class
What stood out about your experience?
Macalaguin: I wasn’t sure what going back would look like because the Orangetheory I knew was high-fives, and people hanging out in the lobby and talking after class, and all those things that bring that community feel to Orangetheory. I ended up going back the second day after the studio opened, and I decided to keep my mask on. I’m still struggling to get back to where I was before the pandemic, but the cleanliness, and the safety, is more than what I thought it was going to be.
Strub: The Orangetheory staff really thought about every last little detail about how you physically move from one spot to another so that you’re not walking next to anybody else. Even entering the studio, you enter five minutes before class starts, you stay socially distanced outside the studio before you even come in, they take your temperature at the door, you can’t use the lockers anymore so that you’re not shoulder-to-shoulder with other people as you’re entering or exiting. Every moment from start to finish is different from what it was in February, and that’s how it has to be, at least for now.
Freberg: I was very appreciative of the transparency. Orangetheory had a constant line of communication through their social media channels and emails that said: here’s the update, here’s what we’re doing, here’s the expectations. I knew before I walked physically into the studio exactly what to expect.
Feeling Safe In The Studio
What made you feel confident about going back?
Macalaguin: The cleanliness was definitely something. If it’s a priority for them, which I feel like it always has been, that made me feel safe to come back.
Strub: There’s 13 treadmills in a row, and 13 rowers all lined up shoulder-to-shoulder. While it still may look the same, when you get into class you are intentionally distanced from your fellow members. To me, that’s by far the biggest thing — the fact that class capacity is less than a third of what it was initially means that everyone has their own space.
Freberg: I would say following through on the guidelines. All the instructors have been wearing masks, everyone’s been following the rules, everyone’s been practicing social distancing, so for me it’s been the follow-through and consistency.
As members consider returning to their studios, Dr. Rachelle Reed suggests learning more about what Orangetheory is doing to keep members as safe as possible while reopening amidst COVID-19 by visiting the website, or by calling their studio to get clarity regarding any protocols. She also encourages people to engage with members who have returned to the studio via their studio’s Facebook and Instagram pages to learn firsthand what their experience was like. And, if a studio is still closed, or if members aren’t ready to head back just yet, she encourages everyone to continue to take advantage of Orangetheory’s free At Home workouts.