Even if you’ve only been scouring my site or social channels for a few months, you already know there are two things I love fiercely: Orangetheory Fitness and gear. So it seems time to put them together (hello, Orangetheory gear!) and break down each of the Orangetheory heart-rate monitors (including the fancy new OT Burn) I’ve personally used during the past two years in case you’re wondering which one to buy — or to buy next — to keep tracking those splat points.
There are four OTF heart-rate monitors available, and you’ll need one of them after you sign up for an OTF membership. Whether you buy a new or pre-loved Orangetheory heart-rate monitor is entirely up to you and how you feel about someone else’s sweat.
But first: read this if you’re wondering “what is Orangetheory Fitness?“
What are the different Orangetheory heart-rate monitors?
Since joining Orangetheory Fitness back in 2017, I’ve amassed a nice amount of Orangetheory gear and have been able to try all four OTF heart-rate monitors — the OT Core, OT Flex, OT Burn and a now-defunct wristband that’s no longer on the OTbeat Wearables site. So let’s start by talking about what each of these are and some of their individual pros and cons.
Please keep in mind that the cost of OTF heart monitors may vary from one location to another, just like the cost of an Orangetheory Fitness membership does, so instead of including prices, I’ll use a single, double or triple dollar sign to denote where they fall in the price range.
As I mentioned, earlier, there used to be another OTbeat wristband available when I first joined. Some locations may still sell them and you can probably find them used pretty easily on your local Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. I only tried it a few times and I didn’t like it. It was stiff on my wrist (and you had to wear it just slightly above your wrist for the best results, which felt weird) and it ALWAYS got caught in my hair if my arm happened to go anywhere above neck level.
Now let’s get on with the three Orangetheory heart monitors I’ve used ad nauseum:
OT Core | $
This is the OG of the OTF heart-rate monitors! It’s sometimes referred to as the “Orangetheory band,” and it’s basically a stretchy chest strap that has a small HR monitor that easily snaps in and out of the strap (so you can clean it). As the name suggests, you wear it around your chest, just under the pecs, with the monitor resting dead centre in the front. The Orangetheory band is VERY adjustable, and with a thick strip of silicone around the inside, it’s highly slip-proof — even in the sweatiest conditions.
OT Core pros:
- Without a doubt, the OT Core offers the most real-time, accurate heart rate of all the monitors. And that’s because — you guessed it — it comes closest to your heart
- In my experience (I wore this HR monitor for about a year), the OT Core has the least Bluetooth lag-time connectivity and offered the most consistency from class to class
- Hands down, it’s the most convenient of all Orangetheory’s heart monitors since it doesn’t need to be charged. You just walk through the front door of your local Orangtheory location (big shout out to OTF Oshawa!) and the system will pick you up automatically. There are no on/off buttons and no recharging required. Batteries are cheap and easy to come by at the dollar store and last a good 9-12 months
- Oftentimes, new memberships come with an OT Core as part of a promotion — and I don’t know about you, but I LOVE free!
OT Core cons:
- While it’s mostly a one-size-fits-all chest strap, if your chest is too small or too large for the adjustable strap, the OT Core won’t be an option for you, unfortunately
- You’ll want to have a small stash of replacement batteries in your gym bag because there’s no telling when your OT Core will die
- If you have any scars around your chest area (like I do from breast-reduction surgery), the OT Core has the potential of rubbing them. This can both irritate the scar or even create more scar tissue; this is why I chose to try one OTF heart-rate monitor after another
- Women with larger breasts will probably have to tuck the monitor up and under the front of their sportsbras to keep it in place
OT Flex | $$
With the OT Flex heart-rate monitor, you have options — and you get to show your orange! Press and hold the logo on the front of the monitor to turn it on and off (you’ll see a blue and red flashing light followed by a green light as it powers on, and a flashing red light followed by no light at all once it’s successfully powered off).
OT Flex pros:
- No more lifting up your shirt amidst your fit-fam to put on a chest strap!
- From a purely cosmetic standpoint, I love the orange strap on the OT Flex; it’s bright and eye-catching and very on-theme for Orangetheory Fitness fanatics like moi
- From a functional standpoint, the OT Flex strap is nice and wide, easy to get on and off and adjustable enough that it can be worn around your forearm or bicep
- You’ll get a flickering red-light warning when your battery is about to die, so at least you know it’s coming
OT Flex cons:
- You’ll need to charge your OT Flex every four to seven classes, depending on how good your battery life remains
- Or you’ll need to charge it the very next day after a fresh charge because you forgot to turn it off after class (been there, done that sooooo many times)
- It requires a special charging “station” to which the monitor clicks into — and although this comes in the box, if you lose it, you’re toast
- I found the OT Flex had the most lag-time of all the monitors, taking up to 8-10 seconds longer to show me my active heart rate during class
OT Burn | $$$
If you, too, want to add to your never-ending Orangetheory gear arsenal, the OT Burn is the latest and greatest toy out there from OTF. It’s slick, and you’ll pay a bit more for that slick-ness, but it’s worth it if you absolutely won’t wear a chest strap.
Note that to turn it on, it’s a quick but firm press to the centre of the logo but to turn it off, you’ll need to press and hold that spot until the lights turn off. So the on/off function differs slightly from the OT Flex you may be used to.
OT Burn pros:
- The OT Burn is really easy to wear: on your wrist like a watch (with the “face” on top of your wrist or underneath it); or on your forearm or bicep like the OT Flex
- Very responsive in real-time, with few lags — quite close to the OT Core chest strap monitor!
- Amazing battery life; yes, you’ll still have to charge it but only about every 20 to 24 classes
- There’s a simple charging cord included that plugs right into the OT Burn, and don’t worry if you lose it — you have a million of these chargers kicking around the house from other/older devices
- You can keep the OT Burn on all day and continue to track steps and splat points in your OTbeat app, outside of your scheduled Orangetheory Fitness classes
OT Burn cons:
- The band on the OT Burn HR monitor is much stiffer than the one on the OT Flex, so you may struggle putting it on a bit more if you’re used to the Flex (it gets easier)
- The band is also much shorter than the OT Flex so there’s no chance I’d be able to fit mine around my bicep if I wanted to
- When you pull your new OT Burn monitor out of the box, you’ll need to remove the strap/band and flip it so the soft Velcro is facing out — it is otherwise damn near impossible to put on properly
- As far as I can tell, I don’t get a warning when the battery is dying and needs to be recharged
So…what’s the best Orangetheory heart-rate monitor?
In a perfect world, I’d merge the OT Burn’s wristband design with the ultra-responsiveness of the OT Core HR monitor (which also gets bonus points for only needing a battery replacement about once a year).
But since we don’t live in a perfect world, and most of us aren’t made of money, I’d probably go with the OT Core if (a) it was presented to me a free promo for signing up at Orangetheory Fitness and (b) I had already tested it out in an Orangetheory studio to make sure it fit and felt comfortable throughout the one-hour HIIT workout.
But if you’re given the option to forego the free promo and put something like $50 toward either the OT Flex or OT Burn monitors, and you know you don’t want a chest-strap HR monitor (that Orangetheory band thing!), I’d choose the Burn every time over the Flex. I think it’s pretty clear from my list of pros and cons above that when it comes to OT Flex vs OT Burn, the Burn has much more going for it overall, even if it will cost you more at the outset.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you have the Orangetheory gear you need to get you through each class. You can have all of the OTF T-shirts and leggings in the world, but if you’re not armed with one of the Orangetheory heart-rate monitors, you won’t be able to track your splats in the app nor see what’s happening with your body during the classes themselves, which is really the key to following the “Orange theory.”
Now that you’ve got the run-down on all of the OTF heart monitors, you’ll want to check out a few of my other OTF posts:
And…GO GET THOSE SPLAT POINTS!
DISCLAIMER: I am an Orangetheory Fitness Oshawa ambassador and have been gifted these heart-rate monitors. All opinions are my own.