Barry’s Bootcamp vs OrangeTheory: Smackdown

Photo: OrangeTheory Fitness

Photo: OrangeTheory Fitness

Coke or Pepsi. Biggie or Tupac. And perhaps the most pressing, pertinent, polarizing question of our time … Barry’s Bootcamp or OrangeTheory Fitness.

If you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level in 2017 (hellooo New Year’s resolutions), Barry’s and OrangeTheory are two of the best heart-pounding workouts in the city (in my opinion, and I’ve tried almost every workout in San Francisco). Both are 60-minute high-intensity workouts alternating between treadmill intervals and heavy weights with a bench. So they must be pretty much the same then, right?

Not quite. While Barry’s and OT are similar, there are major differences that will probably define which one you gravitate towards – and which one you will succeed at. Here’s the lowdown on how they stack up, and which one is my fave.


The Workout: Barry’s

The Barry’s workout is my favorite, for one simple reason: the intervals are shorter. In one class you’ll hit the treadmill and the weights two to four times each, for super quick and dirty sessions. n OT, most classes only switch once between treadmill and weights/rower Let me put it to you this way: would you rather stay on the treadmill for 8 minutes, or 28 minutes? You see what I’m saying. Also, Barry’s classes target different body sections throughout the week  (abs one day, butt the next) so you can focus on areas you want to improve. At OT, although each class centers on either Strength, Endurance, or Power, it’s hard to target specific body parts.

The Equipment: OrangeTheory

Barry’s does boast a lot of variety in their workouts – weights, resistance bands, “dynamic mode” on the treadmill where you power the machine with your own strength – but OT takes the cake here. Not only do you rotate between treadmill and weights, but you also spend a considerable amount of time on the rowing machine (which is hard AF, by the way), plus they have TRX straps and ab rollers, which add countless new exercises into the mix.

The Amenities: Barry’s

Like many places in SF, OrangeTheory’s studio is pretty cramped. The FiDi location only has two bathroom stalls and two showers, no complimentary towels, and the locker area is more crowded than Muni at rush hour. Barry’s is  more spacious, has real locker rooms with more showers and bathrooms, complimentary towels, AND a protein smoothie bar with more than 20 delicious, low-calorie concoctions that you can order before class so they’re ready when your sweat-drenched self emerges. No contest.

The Tracking: OrangeTheory

At OT, you wear a heart rate monitor for every workout, and your heart rate shows up on big screens the whole time. Your goal is to stay in the peak calorie-burning “Orange Zone,” as long as possible to get the biggest afterburn. After each class, you get an email with your stats – calories burned, minutes in the Orange Zone, and more. That tracking makes me push harder – when I see that I’m thisclose to getting in the Orange zone, I amp up my speed or incline to compete with myself, trying each time to log more minutes in the Orange zone than I did last week. At first I was worried that everyone would be looking at and judging *my* heart rate, but seriously no one is concerned with anyone but themselves (also, they don’t know my name).

The Vibe: Barry’s

OrangeTheory has cool orange lighting and fun tunes, but it can’t hold a candle to Barry’s dark, clubby vibe, pounding music, and ultra-hot trainers yelling at you to run the fuck faster. Everyone around you is super into it, and that energy is contagious. The whole experience is intense, inspiring, and downright awesome.

The Welcome Factor: OrangeTheory

Barry’s can be intimidating. It’s typically full of ultra-fit, lean, buff, often shirtless people rocking the newest Lululemon swag and nailing 12.0s on their treadmill sprints. If you’re easing into working out, or not a runner, I could see this being a major turnoff. OrangeTheory is much more welcoming. In each class I see a variety of ages, body types, and fitness levels, and they have a designated track for power walkers if running isn’t your thing. Plus, they have an elliptical and bike for anyone injured who need an alternative to the treadmill or rower.

The Price: Tie

Pricing for both varies by location (and like everything – sob – SF is one of the most expensive #kill), but is comparable. My 4-classes-per-month membership at OT is $120; a 5-class pack at Barry’s is $155. That nets out to be $30 and $31 per class, so not much difference.

The Locations: OrangeTheory

Personally, I love that OT has a location in the Financial District, which is right by my office. They also have a SOMA studio, and way more around the Bay Area in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Redwood City, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, and Solano (where?), with new locations coming in Berkeley, Emeryville, and Pinole. Barry’s has spots in SOMA and the Marina – and also a new FiDi location coming soon which I am STOKED about – but just doesn’t cover as many hoods.

The Verdict: Barry’s

At the end of the day, I prefer Barry’s for the short intervals, nice amenities, and high-vibe environment. However, I’d recommend OrangeTheory for anyone who loves tracking their progress, gets off on the rowing machine, or is a power walker instead of a runner. And I switch off between them to keep things interesting and keep my body guessing.

For both classes, the main thing to remember is this: the workout is only as hard as you make it. You control how fast you’re going on the treadmill, how heavy your weights are, how hard you push yourself. I totally believe you can get the same intensity, same strength-building, and same calorie burn at either class … you just better work, bitch.

Which workout is your favorite and why? Let me know!

Posted on January 25, 2017 and filed under Fitness.