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 OrangeTheory Fitness or Barry's Bootcamp?

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 childcare difficulty bonuses


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.

The verdict



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!

Read my OrangeTheory Fitness Review

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  1. Erika S. on June 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    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 on June 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      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. Carrie on June 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    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!

    • Fitnessista on June 21, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      so happy you love it too!!

  3. Sarah on June 21, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    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 on June 21, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      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. Vicky on June 21, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    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 😉

    • Fitnessista on June 21, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      i feel like once you have your fave, it’s hard to switch! 🙂

  5. JenniferP on June 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    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 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 21, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      the lack of childcare is such a bummer. maybe one day they’ll get it *fingers crossed*

  6. India on June 21, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    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 on June 21, 2016 at 9:27 pm

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

      • Dorcas on April 22, 2019 at 8:37 pm

        My OTF are anything but sticklers. It’s painful for me to watch people, who don’t know any better, use terrible form and the coach not say anything. I guess it varies from studio to studio and coach to coach.

        • Fitnessista on April 22, 2019 at 11:14 pm

          It definitely depends where you live. I don’t love the Tucson orangetheory classes as much as the ones in San Diego.

  7. Lauren on June 21, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    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. Jessica @ Fit Talker on June 22, 2016 at 6:45 am

    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. mary on June 22, 2016 at 7:18 am

    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. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on June 22, 2016 at 7:44 am

    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. Laura on June 22, 2016 at 9:52 am

    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 on June 23, 2016 at 11:22 am

    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. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on June 23, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    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. Britt@MyOwnBalance on June 23, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    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. Kate @ SoCal Runner Gal on June 27, 2016 at 10:53 am

    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. Maria on June 28, 2016 at 7:26 am

    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 on June 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm

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

  17. Jackie on July 15, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    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.

  18. Samantha on December 12, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I agree with everything in your article except I DO see the Orange theory gym give the child an iPad during a workout to play on. May not be considered childcare for very young kids, but they do provide entertainment for kids who don’t need intense supervision

    • Fitnessista on December 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      yeah i think older kids can hang out there if they just chill and can hang out, but it’s definitely not official childcare. i’ve only seen a younger kids (who was in like middle school) in the lobby. i just wish they had an add-on option for real childcare

  19. Christine Ivy on December 4, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    I tried both Barry’s Bootcamp and Orange theory. I think they are both really good, 5 stars for both. But for me it came down to which was harder and I have to give it to Barry’s. The cardio was more difficult and the 2nd part was also harder. I would do Orange theory again and again tho. And would promote both as they both get the job done. The one thing I prefer regarding Orange theory is that they have many locations where as Barry’s has 1 in Toronto. There is an Orange theory nearby my home. The other thing that is kind of a bust for me is the accessory you must purchase at Orange theory, it needs to be cheaper I think. Last thing is the staff is much friendlier at Orange Theory. 🙂

  20. Danny on December 19, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for the tone of info, I Joined OTF for almost a year when it just opened. Initially everything went well with my body joints and responded well to the intense work out. However, gradually I started to fill tightness and the whole body would get stiff. I started to have some night less sleeps because of the lower back pain caused due to workout. After every class I stretched and it would help for a certain time, but then again I was back in pain zone. I wished if they had a stretch class or an equivalent workout to ease up the mussels and joints. After almost 3 years I am rethinking of joining OTF but not sure how will I cope with the pain. Does Barry have a stretch class?

    • Fitnessista on December 20, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      i’m not sure if barry’s has a stretch class. how many times a week were you doing OTF? i think because it’s such a hard workout, the max people should do it is 3x a week on non-consecutive days

  21. Danny on December 20, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Usually I workout 5 days in a week at OTF. I had even requested to include a stretch or a Yoga class, but it was against their corporate policy which I understand.

  22. Marissa on November 29, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    The one big thing is that OTF has options for cardio for those who may have injuries or can’t run (like me). There’s no spin bike or elliptical at Barry’s. I think OTF does cater well to a broader audience. The trainers are amazing at OTF and always encourage you to do your best, perfect your form, and even offer nutrition advice. Definitely a team atmosphere!

  23. Elizabeth on January 3, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    I saw that this was one of your most visited posts in 2019 so I’m coming back to read. When I originally read this post I don’t think I had tried either Barry’s or OTF. Now that I have I have more to say. I agree with every point you make, right down to liking OTF more. I’ve been to Barry’s a few times and do not think the workouts are more intense than OTF. What I think may make people perceive them to be more intense is that they are hard to follow from a process standpoint (which irks me since my job is in process improvement). The demos aren’t as clear, as you’ve mentioned, but you’re constantly going back and forth in a Barry’s class between tread and floor and waiting in a line for different weights and it all feels very rushed. An OTF class is organized a lot better from a process flow perspective. Considering that Barry’s doesn’t have as much fancy equipment it’s a shame that their classes are so expensive, but that cost goes into nicer amenities that I just don’t need, like marble sinks in the locker room and a juice bar. I think the cost at OTF is a much better value.

    • Fitnessista on January 4, 2020 at 12:27 am

      i couldn’t agree more. i also think the workouts at OTF have gotten better and better! i don’t need any of the fancy amenities; just give me a good workout that makes sense 🙂

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