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Orangetheory Heart Rate Monitor Vs. Apple Watch

Orangetheory Fitness only syncs with two types of heart rate monitors; the Apple Watch and the Orangetheory brand heart rate monitors. Therefore, it is understandable if you are torn between the two options, wondering which one is better than the other. After all, both are high-quality, high end and commendable heart rate monitor brands.

For this reason, this article discusses the differences and similarities between the Apple Watch and the Orangetheory heart rate monitors, which will help with a final decision.

Can I Use My Apple Watch as a Heart Rate Monitor for Orangetheory?

Yes, you can. Orangetheory introduced a new device, the OTBeat Link, which syncs the Apple Watch to Orangetheory Fitness.

Therefore, you can see your heart rate, calories burned, distance and time on the Apple Watch and your Orangetheory heart rate zone on the OTF screens. 

So, if you already have an Apple Watch, you don’t need a new Orangetheory heart rate monitor.

About Orangetheory Heart Rate Monitor

Orangetheory has three types of heart rate monitors so far, and each is uniquely outstanding; 

  • The OTBeat Core: this is the Orangetheory chest strap and the cheapest of the Orangetheory heart rate monitors. However, being a chest strap gives it the advantage of being the most accurate as well.
  • The OTBeat Flex: after the OTBeat Core, Orangetheory introduced the OT Flex, which was meant to satisfy the urge for an armband. Users who felt uncomfortable rowing and cycling with a chest strap would get the OT Flex as an excellent option. The Flex fits on the forearm, and the strap is adjustable for different arm sizes.
  • The OTBeat Burn: the Burn is the newest of the Orangetheory heart rate monitors. Its straps are suitable for the wrist, the forearm and the bicep region. On top of that, it connects to the new Oranegtheory technology, the OTConnect, which brings smaller screens closer to the user on the OTF treadmills.

Note: You can use either of them outside Orangetheory since they are Bluetooth compatible.

How Accurate is the Orangetheory Heart Rate Monitor?

The Orangetheory heart rate monitors are not full 100% accurate, just as with all other heart rate monitors. However, they are among the closest to accuracy. And you will know this because each zone displays at least matches your effort, from the grey zone to the red zone.

Usually, users who use the heart rate monitor with Garmin or the Apple Watch report that the difference in heart rate is usually 2% and below. Thus, the information collected either on the heart rate is almost accurate, given the independent yet closely related results.

However, the Oranegtheory heart rate monitors display higher figures when it comes to calories burned. This could result from counting all the active calories even during resting time, which other heart rate monitors such as the Apple Watch do not.

About Apple Watch

Apple Watch is a smartwatch with heart rate monitoring features, which makes it more of a wrist armband. Additionally, there is a spectrum of Apple Watch generations, from generation 1 to generation 8.

The Apple Watch is quite popular, which is no wonder Oranegtheory found it the first to work on in syncing with their workouts. This move would attract more clients while satisfying Apple Watch fans already in Orangetheory.

Nonetheless, Orangetheory only syncs with the Apple Watch series from series 3 to newer. 

How Accurate is the Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch is among the most trusted heart rate monitors. Actually, most people seem to rely on the Apple Watch to determine the accuracy of their heart rate and other metrics. 

For example, Orangetheory users with OTF heart rate monitors and Apple Watch feel the OTF heart rate monitors are accurate because they have closer metrics to the Apple Watch. Also, they feel that Orangetheory exaggerates the calories burned because they are at least 100 calories more.

Orangetheory Heart Rate Monitor Vs. Apple Watch Specifications

Let’s have a look at the technical specifications between the Apple Watch and Orangetheory heart rate monitors, which will bring out the differences and similarities.

OrangetheoryApple Watch series 7
FunctionsHeart rate detection and transmission, calories burnedHeart rate detection and transmission, distance, time
Heart Rate Range30 to 220 BPM in 1 BPM resolution30 to 210 BPM in 1 BPM resolution
Heart Rate Accuracy+/-5 BPM+/-2 BPM
Power Supply3.8V Li-ion Polymer rechargeable batteryLi-Ion 309 mAh (1.19 Wh), non-removable, Wireless charging
Transmission Distance15 Meters9.14 Meters
Battery LifetimeUp to 24 hours of continuousUp to 36 hours
Detection PPG & BLE always onFall detection, light sensor
Water Resistance LevelIP6750m, IP6X
Storage Temperature-20 to +60)C-20° and 45° C
Operating Temperature0 to +40C0° and 35° C
Memory capacity6 hours detection32 GB

How Did I Make the Comparison?

I already had an Apple Watch when I joined Orangetheory, but at that time, it would not sync to Orangetheory. Therefore, I decided to go for the OTF heart rate monitor, at least for the sake of a complete Orangetheory experience.

However, I still trusted my Apple Watch more and wouldn’t leave it behind nor miss a chance to track my metrics with it. Besides, I wanted to know the difference between the results of the two heart rate monitors. So, I wear my OTBeat Core (I went for the cheapest option and one that was at least different from the Watch), which is a chest strap, and the Apple Watch on my wrist.

Typically, the difference in heart rate is never more than 3% between the two. Also, I find that the Orangetheory chest strap is always higher than the Apple Watch, which is understandable given that it picks the heart rate directly from the heartbeats. It is therefore not affected by environmental factors, as the Apple Watch and other armbands are. Nevertheless, I find the Apple Watch really competitive to have such a close range with the chest strap.

An example of the BPM between the two; if I am at 154 BPM on the Apple Watch, I will be at 155 to 158 BPM on the OTF chest strap on any given day.

However, the calories burned reflected quite differently on the two heart rate monitors. And the range is so high that it is actually significant. For example, on a good day, the Apple Watch gives a result of 600 calories after the 60-minute OTF class. On the same day, the chest strap will give approximately 650 calories. That is not bad, right? However, there are days when the Apple Watch reflects 600 calories while its counterpart chest strap reflects 781 calories!

Usually, the difference lengthens when I start cutting weight. The higher the body weight, the closer the metrics between the Apple Watch and the Oranegtheory heart rate monitor, and vice versa.

Which is the Best for Orangetheory Classes: OTF Heart Rate Monitor or Apple Watch?

Well, the answer is entirely subjective. Some people will love the Apple Watch more than the Orangetheory heart rate monitors; others will prefer Orangetheory heart rate monitors. The good news is that the heart rate, which matters more in these classes, is not significantly different in either the heart rate monitors or the Watch.

I prefer the Apple Watch to the chest strap due to its convenience. The chest strap tends to bite through me during rowing classes, and it is pretty uncomfortable when sweaty. However, I think I would have a more challenging choice if I used the OTBeat Flex or the OTBeat Burn, which both have similar convenience benefits to the Apple Watch.

When it comes to calories burned, these do not really matter much, save for the exercise motivation they offer. However, if it really matters and you want all the calories used regardless of the activity in class, the OTF heart rate monitors are great. On the other hand, the Apple Watch only records calories burned during active hours, which brings the total number down. Again, however, ensuring you work out more for better results is better.


Orangetheory Heart Rate Monitor Vs. Apple Watch? Both choices are great for Oranegtheory training. Even better, you can use either of them outside Orangetheory since they are Bluetooth compatible.

Essentially, they have very close heart rate metrics, making them both excellent at monitoring. Their main difference is in the calories burned metrics, where OTF heart rate monitors have higher numbers.

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