Orangetheory Fitness is a fitness studio franchise that focuses on Heart Rate Based Interval Training.
Each class is instructed by a coach, with the training’s intensity based on peoples’ heart rates, making the training extremely individualized for each participant.
The classes focus on a full-body workout performed in intervals of treadmill work, rowing machine time, and dumbbell exercises.
The classes are pleasantly predictable, but there’s still some variance in every session.
All in all, Orangetheory is incredibly popular and a terrific workout, but some people who join quickly figure out — “I hate Orangetheory!”
A lot of people hate Orangetheory because the sales team is extremely pushy and persistent. Once you do join, you might find the workouts are too intense for your liking or that it’s hard to schedule enough classes to warrant the price of a membership.
The best Orangetheory alternatives to consider are CrossFit, boot camp classes, and going to the gym on your own.
Let’s take a look at why Orangetheory isn’t for everyone and what you can do about it if you hate OTF.
Why Some People Hate Orangetheory
Just because a lot of people seem to love their Orangetheory membership doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid if you hate it!
Here are some of the reasons OTF may not be for everyone.
1. It’s Expensive
Orangetheory’s monthly costs are (roughly):
- Four classes: $59
- Eight classes: $99
- Unlimited classes: $159
That’s a LOT pricier than a gym membership, and some people feel gyms offer more value.
Many gyms offer access to hundreds of classes, often offering more variety for a lower price.
That makes Orangetheory’s prices unappealing to some people.
2. Classes Are Too Intense
Your OTF coach ensures you’re working to hit a certain percentage of your maximum heart rate; ideally, they’ll stop you from overworking or underworking yourself.
Unfortunately, you may still find the classes are a bit much for you.
The Tanaka Equation
Orangetheory calculates your maximum heart rate using the Tanaka equation: 208 minus 0.7 times your age.
Let’s say you’re 30 years old. Multiply 30 by 0.7, equalling 21. Take 21 from 208, with the result of 187.
Ergo, Orangetheory alters your workout’s intensity based on a maximum heart rate of 187.
Unfortunately, this is simplified and flawed.
It’s based on healthy adults and calculated based on age alone.
However, the following can play a role in your real heart rate max:
- Health conditions
- Fitness level
- Body age vs real age
The Tanaka method is a decent starting point, and your OTF coaches will know when to push you and when to reign you in.
But still, the classes are extremely hard and designed to push you to the limit.
That’s not what everyone is looking for in a workout.
3. Salespeople Are Pushy
Some OTF-curious people were going to get an Orangetheory membership, but the salespeople squashed that desire.
They’re incredibly insistent when they want you to sign up for a membership.
The team doesn’t just badger you while you’re there. They call and email you to try and persuade you to join up, and one Reddit user received a call from the Orangetheory sales team at 7am on a Saturday!
Another user received calls from pushy salespeople twice daily.
The salespeople, thankfully, back off if you’re firm enough, or if you sign up for a membership or further classes.
4. Not Really Unlimited
You can attend an unlimited number of Orangetheory classes with a Premier membership, but you’re not guaranteed to get into as many classes as you want.
The classes fill up fast. You have to sign up for each class individually, ASAP.
Some people, unfortunately, find themselves paying and not making it into enough classes to warrant the expense.
You have to be really on top of your game if you want to make the most of the Premier plan, especially at a popular studio in or near a major metro area.
It’s best to book all of your classes two weeks in advance, but busy people know that you can’t always plan that far ahead.
Missing a class results in a $12 fee, which can really sting!
What to Do If You Hate Orangetheory
If you hate Orangetheory, you have plenty of other choices!
It might be popular and you might feel like quitting leaves you stuck on your own, but there are plenty of effective Orangetheory alternatives to consider.
The top three suggestions are particularly excellent.
You can also choose a combination of the options below; evaluate your workout style and preferences, then select what works best for you.
1. Regular Gym Membership
A regular gym membership can cost a third of the price of a Premier Orangetheory membership, and it comes with more benefits.
Some gyms give you a few sessions with personal trainers, some give you access to unlimited classes, and they all give you a wide range of workout gear to use.
At the gym, you’re in charge of what you do.
You can go as often as you want, do as much or little as you like, and control what part of your body you work out on what day.
If you like being in charge and you’re self-motivated, then this might be perfect for you.
However, if you have trouble staying motivated on your own, then perhaps you should look into one of the other OTF alternatives below.
(Read more about Orangetheory vs the gym here.)
2. Boot Camps
Boot camps offer classes of varying lengths, but they’re often 45–60 minutes long.
An instructor designs a new routine for each session.
One day you might work on strength, but the next day could be dedicated to cardio.
Boot camps are better for people who like a ton of variety in their workouts, and some, like Burn Boot Camp, are better for busy people, too.
Burn Boot Camp offers childcare while you’re working out, so you never have to miss a class. You can read more about Burn Boot Camp vs Orangetheory if you like.
F45 vs Orangetheory is also worth glancing at, especially if you like outdoor workouts.
However, consider boot camps if the price isn’t a problem you have with Orangetheory. Some can get even pricier than OTF.
Crossfit is wonderful if you like a familiar structure but with varied, new exercises.
You can expect a 45–60-minute workout to include dynamic warmups, skill and strength work, a unique workout of the day, and a cool down.
It’s a particularly fun way to train for people who like competition, as you’re in constant competition with other people in the class, (and yourself!) and you’re always striving to meet new goals.
If that’s not motivation enough, every class is overseen by a qualified instructor.
This is a fantastic alternative to Orangetheory, and it’s the closest thing to OTF you’re going to get.
You can burn almost 500 calories per workout, and you’ll build muscle while doing it.
However, Crossfit can get expensive, so it’s not an alternative for someone who dislikes the expense of Orangetheory.
Check out this direct comparison of Orangetheory vs Crossfit if you’d like.
4. Spin Class
Spin classes are perfect for someone who wants to work up a sweat but without moving around from machine to machine.
Spinning is wonderful cardio that’s super easy on your joints. The classes and instructors are energetic, fun, and even addictive to some folks!
You focus on different intensity levels and cycling patterns, so it keeps the workout interesting.
During a 45-minute class, a 150-pound person can burn up to 357 calories.
(Check out the pros and cons of spin class here.)
5. Yoga or Pilates
If you’re a fitness beginner and found Orangetheory too intense, then you might want to consider a low-intensity workout instead.
Yoga focuses on flexibility, and pilates is more about muscle building and core strength.
Pilates also uses some machines, where Yoga doesn’t.
Yoga and pilates are both excellent workouts that won’t usually push your heart rate to its absolute maximum.
But don’t be fooled — if you want an intense workout, try Power Yoga or Hot Yoga and you’ll be shocked at how difficult it is!
Hot Power Yoga can burn 620 calories in an hour. Advanced pilates students can burn 450 calories in a 60-minute session.
Barre workouts are fantastic full-body sessions that can range from easy to intense.
You do a combination of strength training, yoga, pilates, and ballet-inspired dance moves.
It’s great fun if you like dancer-like movements.
And barre isn’t as easy as it looks!
You can elevate your heart rate considerably, and if you work hard enough, you can burn anywhere from 250–500 calories during a class.
(Learn more about the pros and cons of barre.)
7. Home Workouts
There are two forms of home workouts you can do in place of Orangetheory classes.
One is free, and the other has some upfront costs and space requirements.
All you need is a little space to move around in, and a soft surface like a yoga mat would be beneficial, too.
You can control your workout and follow along with the on-screen trainer, but you can take a break whenever you need to.
These workouts are effective and efficient, with most of them taking only 15 minutes or so.
To emulate OTF classes at home, you need is a room, a treadmill, a rowing machine, and dumbbells of varying weights.
This is costly upfront, but it works out cheaper in the end.
You don’t need top-of-the-line gear—let’s say you budget $500 for each machine and $550 for really good set of adjustable dumbbells.
That’s only $1,550 upfront. A year of OTF Premier costs more than that, and this gear is going to last you much longer than a year.
You can create your own coach-free, monitor-free OTF class and work at a comfortable pace.
(Learn more about the results you can get from just home workouts here.)
Orangetheory provides a highly enjoyable workout full of benefits, but it’s not for everyone.
Thankfully, there are vast and varied OTF alternatives to peruse if you’ve tried it and discovered it wasn’t for you — or even if you hated it!
Orangetheory offers a free introductory class, and some of the alternatives offer free/discounted introductory sessions, too.
Consider attending different workshops and classes until you find one you love. If you don’t fall in love with any of them, then you can always workout on your own at home or at the gym, if you’re ready to self-motivate.
For more, check out what to do if:
Hope this helps!