workout face-off: Barry’s Bootcamp vs. Orangetheory

It’s the ultimate stand-off of bootcamp-style treadmill interval workouts! Which one is better…

Orangetheory or Barry’s Bootcamp?

Which is better

After my little fitness hiatus, I couldn’t wait to get back to OTF. I had to freeze my membership while all of my medical stuff was at its peak, but I’m back, baby. It felt SO GOOD to push myself (especially knowing that I was fully recovered from my procedures) and get in a great, sweaty workout. I used to have trouble hitting the “orange zone” because I’m used to sustaining workouts at high intensities from teaching, but since I’ve been out for a while, it was a lot easier to hit that anaerobic spot.

I thought I’d do a little side by side comparison of the workouts if you’ve been wanting to check them out. I’ve only tried Barry’s Bootcamp once so far -it’s a little farther from the house which makes it tougher to catch a class- so I talked to a friend who is a Barry’s regular to make sure I got it right. 

Cost vibe


fairly equal. They are both pricey workout options (ranging from $25-40 a class, depending on where you’re located). You can use Class Pass for Barry’s, which can cut down the cost dramatically. For both studios, if you plan on using it as your main workout, a membership is the most cost-effective option.

What to expect:

TO SWEAT. Both workouts are bootcamp-style workouts with circuit exercises. The tools are a little different in each class. OTF uses a rower for some of the cardio intervals, as well as dumbbells, an ab dolly, and TRX straps. Barry’s uses dumbbells, medicine balls, benches, and resistance bands. 

Barry’s uses a muscle group split (which I LOVE), so each day, you know what you’re working. Monday is arms + abs, Tuesday is butts + legs, Wednesday is chest + back + abs, Thursday is hard core abs, and the weekend workouts are total body. OTF separates the days based on training goals: strength, power, endurance, or a combination of the three. 

The vibe:

Orangetheory: bright, Orange (orange clothing and lights), a “team” atmosphere. I feel like OTF is like a “the gang’s all here! let’s crush it together!” workout. 🙂

Barry’s: dark, sweaty and steamy. At Barry’s, it’s very easy to get into the zone, because you feel like you’re in a workout club cave. I don’t really feel the same team vibe, but more like you’re in it for yourself and motivated to hit your max. 

Difficulty of exercises:

I think that Barry’s had more challenging exercises, but for both. it really comes down to how hard you push yourself. Since you work out at your own pace for both workouts, you get out of it what you put into it. 

Which one is easier to follow?

I think Orangetheory is easier to follow because the TV workout screens demo the workouts you’re supposed to be completing. The coach takes some time before each set to demonstrate proper form and modifications. In Barry’s, the instructor demos the workout and gives form cues, but it helps if you’re already comfortable with most bootcamp-style exercises and a general knowledge of strength training and form. The demos are much faster during Barry’s workouts. 


Barry’s Bootcamp uses Woodway treadmills, which feel like you’re running on air. They’re gentler on the joints, and for this reason, I can run a lot faster. I also like the fact that you know what muscle groups you’ll be working, so if you follow a solid muscle training split on your own, it’s easier to jump into a class without shaking up your training. For OTF, I never really know what exercises we’re doing, so it’s kind of a bummer if I worked out legs the day before and the workout ends up being a legs-heavy day. 

I love that OTF utilizes the rowers for cardio, since it’s a different way to elevate your heart rate while strengthening your arms, legs and core. 

The music:

I LOVE the music in both classes, which is a huge motivation driver for me. Each instructor plays something a little different (from house music, to rap, to pop remixes and hip hop), but the music in both classes has been incredible 

Do they have childcare?

NO CHILDCARE. Womp womp. 

Gear required:

For OTF, you need a heart rate strap, which you can borrow for your first class. You can purchase your own for about $70. They also have an OT Beat app, which is compatible with the strap, so you can wear it for other workouts.  For Barry’s, you really just need a comfortable pair of sneakers.

Who wins

Orangetheory FTW. While I did like Barry’s (and still need to go back), my heart belongs to OTF. I like how much they emphasize proper form, effective workouts, and modifications so you can get everything you need from the workout. I think it caters more to the general population. For Barry’s, it’s still a killer and fun class. I think I would go more often if the studio was a tiny bit closer. 🙂

Have you tried either of these workouts? Which one did you like more? Or, which one do you think you would prefer?



An OTF-style workout is here!


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  1. Erika S. says:

    I know you rave about OTF and I finally tried it several mos ago with a group of friends. I wasn’t in love…I felt like I was always in the red and it was hard to get into the orange unless I was practically walking. My friends still go and are trying to convince me to give one more try (which I will) because they are convinced they have found coaches I will like more.

    I will admit…as a germaphobe, I couldn’t get over the borrowed heart rate monitor at OTF…it was wet (they seem to wipe them off) & had a funny smell which has also turned me off.

    I’ve been interested in trying Barry’s though.

    • Fitnessista says:

      that’s a bummer you didn’t love it! yes, the heart rate strap was kind of gross to me too but then i saw that they actually wash them in a washing machine, and disinfected the pods with cleaning wipes. it’s definitely nicer to have your own!
      let me know if you try it again!

  2. I’ve read your raves of OTF for a long time and was excited when one opened in my town. I was hooked from the first workout! It is marked as the “best one hour workout” and I feel that way for sure. It is the most effective bang for my buck! I am motivated by the HR data and the music. A great trainer is bonus! It has made working out beyond my home workouts fun again!

  3. I tried OTF on your recommendation and LOVED IT. There is a similar workout in the Chicago area called Shred, but I love getting the stats from OTF and having the motivation to not slack. 🙂 I’ve never done Barry’s, but the legs/arms/core day has always been my main suggestion at OTF. I would go a lot more frequently if they separated them out because then I’d know how to plan my workout week better. But twice a week is still super fun!

    • Fitnessista says:

      yahhhhh i’m so happy you liked it! and same on the muscle splits. jumping in can be tricky when you have no clue what exercises you’ll be doing

  4. I have to admit I haven’t tried OTF yet but I absolutely LOVE Barry’s. The intensity is awesome and it definitely pushes me like no other class (and I’m a pretty crappy runner). I have a friend who has tried both and says that OTF is not as intense but also likes it so I’d be interested to try it. I am just afraid I’m already a little too biased 😉

  5. JenniferP says:

    This made me nostalgic for OTF! I was dedicated to it for 2 years, but having just had my third baby a few months ago, the lack of child care became a problem that I just couldn’t get past. I’m all about the YMCA classes now 🙂

  6. I did Barry’s with classpass and it was super fun to push myself. The treadmills were amazing – nothing else like them! I didn’t feel like the instructors helped correct form which concerned me. Orangetheory sounds fun, but it’s just pricey!

    • Fitnessista says:

      during the class i took, the instructor didn’t correct form either. at OTF they’re sticklers about awesome form

  7. I have done both..and I am with you–OTF for the win! Fully agree re form. I did a Barry’s class in NYC–it was packed..and the instructor didn’t pay attention to anyone…there were too many of us crammed in the class! I don’t wear a HRM at OTF..I know I am working hard and always leave feeling great! I would give Barry’s another try if they ever came to Arizona! We are missing so much good stuff that CALI has!

  8. Thanks for the comparison! I have an OTF membershp and am loving it. There’s no Barry’s around here, but I was still curious.

    I actually like not knowing what I’m going to get when walking into an OTF class.

    For Barry’s having set days for body parts, that would be tough for me, especially since with my schedule I can only go on certain days. Not sure I’d love knowing that every class I could go to would focus on the same area.

    I’ve had some issues with the HR monitor at OTF, but like someone mentioned earlier, it’s not really THAT important since I can definitely tell I’m working hard. Like you, sometimes it’s hard for me to get to the orange and it makes sense that maybe it’s because I teach spin and have to also project my voice.

    Thanks again for the info!

  9. I had signed up for a free trial class of OTF but then decided to go another way. I’m surprised to hear you can’t use their HRM straps indefinitely. My Polar broke and I have no interest in buying another one.

  10. I think close to home home makes things automatically more attractive. I teach at a couple clubs that are a little farther away and although I get a free membership, I don’t go out of my way to go to them to do my regular workouts. It doesn’t matter where you workout, as long as you get it done!

  11. I’m obsessed with OTF:) I can only get to it once a week because of childcare (c’mon OTF!!), but I consider it my weekly fitness treat! Ha. Been doing it for 8 months now and am curious how long I’ll last I to this pregnancy! Second pregnancy but first one doing OTF… We shall see! 18 weeks and going strong!

  12. Amy Ramos says:

    I luuuurrvvveeee OTF. One opened up last summer and I was hesitant to try it out and I did not try it out until last month.
    I am HOOKED!
    I go to the 5 am class during the week, which is brutal but I am done while sun is rising!

  13. GINA! Well you know I have to weigh in on this one. I could definitely write a whole post about it, seeing as I was a coach at OTF for so long and was big into Barry’s for a while and you hit some great points. One big thing to mention is that at OTF, even if you have a different coach, they will likely give you the same workout that was prescribed for the nation that day, with small differences and style — it’s all laid out for them and has to be followed. Whereas at Barry’s, all the routines are entirely made up by the instructors, so the moves vary WAY more, and the class can seem totally different based on who you get that day. I agree that Woodways at Barry’s are WAY better to run on. But I also think OTF wins with the rower as a warm-up, because it utilizes so many muscle groups. With the ability to be a powerwalker in OTF (NOT an option in Barry’s), it’s clear that OTF is more approachable and better for newer people. Some people just like it more. Barry’s is an acquired taste. It can be ridiculously hard and intimidating for some people. And at Barry’s because the classes are MUCH bigger and more packed, they do NOT focus on correcting people. At OTF, they do. Overall, I like both for many reasons, but if I had to go to one class consistently, it would probably be OTF … but then again … I do love the dark steamy room of Barry’s. 🙂

  14. I haven’t tried OTF yet. I meant to go last summer but got busy at the beach! 🙂 I liked Barry’s a lot but it can be a little hard to follow if you are new especially. And, I sometimes think the suggested running pace is too fast for some people so you have to be careful with that. But overall I thought it was a great workout and loved the music. Great rundown!

  15. I just signed up for OTF again since I’m not in marathon training mode. I have such a love/hate relationship with it but I’m basically addicted. I would never do a workout that challenging (running at a 9% incline!? WTF!) or diverse on my own, so it feels like having a personal trainer. I also LOVE the team environment. I really do feel like we’re all in it together. We should take a class together soon! I got to the PL location a lot because it’s closer to work.

  16. I, too, tried OTF based on your suggestion way back then! I FINALLY tried it this past March, going with the Basic membership (mainly because it’s a bit pricey) and going once a week. Well, I got myself a PART-TIME job (at a country club fitness center no less) just so I can up my membership to Unlimited! I got another job just to be able to do this addictive workout.

    • Fitnessista says:

      that is so so awesome. happy you love it so much too! it’s pricey, but i really think it’s worth it

  17. I don’t like either to be honest. I used to go to barry’s but I’ve evolved beyond that and now truly train for strength which means lifting with an OLYMPIC BARBELL… I can now deadlift over twice my body weight, bench press my bw, squat 1.5 x my bw, do unassisted dips and pull ups. I feel like both classes are just glorified cardio with light weights; yes 15lb dumbells etc is light weight. Now that I can deadlift over 200 lbs I cannot take those classes seriously. I highly recommend something like Stronglifts 5×5 with a focus on increasing weight every time. I didn’t realize how weak I was after Barry’s Bootcamp; until I started going into the weight room and truly lifting for strength. After seeing strong women powerlifters deadlift 315 lbs and bench 135 etc I think those classes are a joke and can’t take them seriously. I guess if you are into just “having fun” when you work out and want a club environment with music etc then Barrys is ok but you won’t get strong doing it. As someone who is anti social and NOT a team player whatsoever I much prefer lifting alone in the weight room. I wouldn’t like Orange Theory because I don’t need and have no desire to be part of a “team” when working out.

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