F45 vs Orangetheory … If You Must …

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We’ve had some pretty memorable “vs matchups” on this site.

For people with certain…niche interests, the F45 vs Orangetheory may rank up there with some the best of these!

In recent years, both F45 and Orangetheory have been proposed as HIIT alternatives to CrossFit. While F45 training sessions and the typical Orangetheory class certainly involves high-intensity interval training elements, neither is going to provide the same workout experience that CrossFit provides.

With that being said, if you’re looking for a workout with greater-than-normal intensity with the confidence-boosting elements of the class structure, you might want to pay close attention to the showdown between these “functional fitness” newbies (“newbies” being a relative term in this case!)

What Is Orangetheory

At its core, Orangetheory is a 60-minute, full-body workout focused on training endurance, strength, and power. It’s core programming involves heart rate-based interval training, which is apparently “scientifically designed” to maintain a target heart-rate zone that stimulates participants’ metabolisms.

Some of the main selling points for Orangetheory are:

  •  Personal attention: Even though it’s a group workout, participants get pretty close individual coaching. Coaches guide athletes through each exercise, ensuring they perform movements safely and appropriately.
  • Technology Integration: During workouts, participants wear heart rate monitors to track vital statistics and performance.
  • Varied Workouts: Like many fitness disciplines these days, every training session is unique. Many training elements are repeated from session to session, but performing the same exact workout happens…not so often.
  • Community “Spirit”: Also like many of the more popular “functional fitness” disciplines today, community is a big component where encouragement and collective “suffering” during workouts makes the work for…tolerable.
f45 vs orangetheory

and the structure of training:

  • Treadmill Training: Pretty straightforward, involves walking, running, and general interval speed work.
  • Rowing: For more of a full-body cardio experience while also emphasizing strength-building components. NOTE: Orangetheory classes use the Waterower brand as opposed to the arguably more popular Concept2 rower for these portions.
  • Weight Room: Dedicated strength training using a variety of implements (ex. dumbbells).

Orangetheory is designed to keep participants’ heart rates within a designated range and to boost metabolic effects…even after the class is finished. This is colloquially referred to as the “afterburn effect” and is actually a rather common concept in much of fitness training (although it isn’t usually referred to by this gimmicky term).

What Is F45

F45 stands for “Functional 45” and revolves around high-intensity, circuit-based group training sessions condensed into 45 total minutes. Workouts are designed to provide a “functional” full-body workout while improving participants’ energy levels, resting metabolic rate(definition), strength, and endurance.

The workout sessions, like Orangethoery, are varied; in theory, no two sessions are the same. Each day of the week focuses on different muscle groups to ensure a balanced workout and adequate recovery before the next training session. A typical week of “bird’s eye level” programming in an F45 studio looks like this:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays mostly cardio-based
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays mostly a focus on strength training
  • Saturdays a longer, more hybrid workout

It should also be noted that every F45 studio around the world does the same exact workout on any given day. Now that is “community”!

To be honest, F45 possess many of the same elements mentioned about Orangetheory above (focused attention from coaches, varied workouts, technology integration, camaraderie with other trainees) with the added “bonus” that workouts never go longer than 45 minutes (for better or for worse).

F45 is less “pure” cardio based than Orangetheory is with more of an emphasis on functional movements and and weighted implements.


Main Benefits of Orangetheory and F45

So…we’ve established that Orangetheory is pretty similar to some other functional training methods (with the addition of some…interesting heart rate monitors as well as the exclusive use of the Waterrower in training).

However, besides these somewhat generic areas, it’s difficult to find ways that the program really stands out from other training programs.

Ultimately, Orangetheory benefits trainees by providing varied, cardio-based workouts in a consistent atmosphere and setting. Workouts are challenging, but accessible to just about everyone. Orangetheory studios offer an uplifting, community environment. Those consistent in their Orangetheory training will experience positive results.


…and to be honest, the same can be said for F45.

F45’s workouts are only 3/4 as long as Orangetheory’s sessions and they don’t involve the nifty heart rate monitors, but trainess who are consistent will likely experience gainz in their overall fitness levels.

These things being said, neither program offers really unique “benefits” that one wouldn’t gain from other types of organized group fitness training sessions involving consistent HIIT programming.

Orangetheory Vs F45

As you might be able to surmise from the last section, there isn’t really that much for these two to “fight” over; they are far more similar to each other than they are different and distinctive training regimens. It’s easier to take a quick scan of this table (which, as you’ll notice, has a lot of overlapping elements) than sifting through a bunch of text about each potential area of contention.

FocusCardiovascular & EnduranceFunctional Training & Strength (along with some cardio elements)
Session Length60 minutes45 minutes
Workout FrequencyClasses scheduled throughout the day (generally no open gym time available)Classes scheduled throughout the day ((generally no open gym time available)
TechnologyHeart rate monitors, performance trackingVarious workout tech, performance tracking, progress screens throughout the studio
CostClose to $300 per month (unlimited plan; different locations cost more or less)~$200 per month (unlimited plan, very location dependent)
Training StyleGroup trainingGroup training

Frequently Asked Questions

So you’re actually intrigued by what you’re reading about F45 and Orangetheory and actually have a few more questions? Thankfully, I’m not a total hater; here are a few final questions from the stragglers:

F45 and Orangetheory are both very inclusive and accessible to newcomers. Because each class is led by a trained coach, there is always an expert around to guide newbs through more concrete concepts like movement standards and more abstract things like workout pacing.

Just because you’re just getting started with these types of fitness programs does not mean you won’t experience significant calorie burn throughout each session.

In both disciplines, the coach is more of a leader and facilitator than an active participant. They are there to motivate athletes and model proper movement standards, but they don’t really do the work with participants.

With that being said, in most cases, trainers are quite fit and have done their fair share of workouts and classes…so…you can really trust what they’re telling you

F45 vs Orangetheory – Post-game

So…after all of that talk about throwing dumbbells and kettlebells around, I assume you’re ready to cancel your current gym membership and sign up for your first Orangetheory or F45 class…

…however, if you’re not quite ready to trade in your circuit training / circuit style workout for an (exactly) 45-minute class consisting of battle ropes, plyo boxes, medicine balls, sleds, a sandbag or two, and (light) barbells,

I can understand. It doesn’t hurt to check out other alternatives to these two programs (even something like dedicated TRX suspension training might work for you) as something else might be a better fit…

…we have entire articles comparing F45 to CrossFit and even comparing CrossFit to Hyrox…the newest kid on the block of high-intensity fitness training. With all of these options available to you, I’m positive that you’ll be able to find the option that works best for you!

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Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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