My Go-To Workout Went Virtual. How Does Orangetheory Live Stack Up?

I tried it, and consistently got a great workout. The only catch: the cost.

A woman squats while doing an Orangetheory Live class for a review piece on the new streaming workout in Canada and how you can do it at home

(Photo: Orangetheory)

One of the million things I’ve missed during lockdown life is working out at Orangetheory. The 50-minute interval training sessions mix cardio (in the form of rowing and treadmill running) with weight training and lots of encouragement from a coach. And thanks to the OTbeat Burn heart rate monitor—sold separately!—you can track your calorie burn and heart rate in real time on the studio leaderboard, with the goal of spending at least 12 minutes in the elevated “orange zone.”

I absolutely loathe strength training outside of Orangetheory, and I just didn’t do it during the first lockdown. (I ran instead.) But by the time the second lockdown rolled around in Toronto, getting out the door for a run during a grey winter day was not appealing. Enter Orangetheory Live, real-time instructor-led workouts featuring the same cardio-strength training mix of the in-studio programming. I couldn’t sign up fast enough; here’s how the Orangetheory Live experience stacks up to the OG studio classes.

How does Orangetheory Live work?

Just as you’d book an in-studio class, Orangetheory Live classes can be booked through the Orangetheory app. Similar to a Zoom meeting, you’ll receive a link to your class approximately an hour before it’s scheduled to start. Open the link on your browser, and you’ll see your instructor and the individual screens of your fellow classmates (you can also opt to only be visible to the instructor). You’ll then be led through a 50-minute workout, during which your instructor will provide personalized instruction as required and also lots of encouragement.

What type of equipment do you need?

A yoga mat is great; otherwise, whatever type of resistance you have on hand. An exercise band, a kettle bell or even a heavier household item—like a jug of cat litter—would serve you well; I’ve taken six classes so far using only one set of 10-lb weights. And if you have an Orangetheory heart rate monitor, you can also use it to track your performance during the class, just as you would at the studio.

Do you need an Orangetheory membership to access Orangetheory Live?

Yes—and it’s worth noting that your membership will cost the same per class whether you are working out in studio or virtually. (Under my membership plan, this worked out to about $20 per class, which is pricey for a virtual workout.) Currently, 89 studios across Canada offer Orangetheory Live; I was able to take my classes through my home studio, with the same instructors I’m used to seeing IRL.

What’s a typical class like?

Similar to studio classes, each Orangetheory Live is a mix of cardio and strength training—and you’ll never do the same workout twice.

Instead of rowing and treadmill time, cardio comes in the form of fast-paced floor exercises such as jump squats, skater lunges, high knees and running in place. Strength training involves body weight exercises such as push-ups, planks, squats and lunges—often with options to add resistance, if you have it.

Will you get a great workout?

For the most part, yes. As with any group fitness class, some specific workouts were harder than others. My average calorie burn during a virtual class was about 25 percent less than what it is in-studio, but I still considered that impressive because it came strictly via mat exercises—no treadmill or rower involved. The level of instruction provided was also impressive; my class sizes were typically small (around six students) and I felt like I got the same level of one-on-one correction as I do in studio.

Is it as good as working out in studio?

As with any IRL activity gone virtual, Orangetheory Live is not *quite* as good as the real thing—but for me, and anyone else who lives in a lockdown zone, it’s as good as it’s going to get right now in terms of group fitness. And I was surprised to experience some of the same sense of community that I did in studio. We still clapped and did selfies after milestone classes (say, someone’s 100th workout) and one day I was in the same class as two media colleagues, which is as close as I’ve gotten to randomly running into someone in months. But I’m still longing for the day I can high-five sweaty strangers with abandon once more.

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