Downtown Denver has come into its own as a fitness mecca in recent years. Fitness studios and gyms in Denver have been cropping up left and right. You can barely walk down a few blocks in RiNo or LoHi without encountering several downtown Denver workout studios – a yoga spot here, a cycling studio there, a climbing gym yonder. There are now so many excellent Denver fitness clubs that it can leave prospective members overwhelmed. Which downtown Denver gym is right for you? Let’s review some awesome fitness studios in Denver to help you select the one that suits you best.
Comparison of Gyms in Downtown Denver in 2021 – Orangetheory v. F45 v. Worth The Fight
In downtown Denver, you can hardly go a block without encountering a gym or fitness studio. Choice is great, but paradoxically too much choice actually leaves us less satisfied with our ultimate choice. With that in mind, we have narrowed our review of Denver fitness clubs down to three great options:
🔸Worth The Fight Boxing & Fitness Studio: Like Orangetheory but with boxing fitness as cardio instead of running/rowing – fun, empowering bootcamp classes incorporating boxing (on your own bag, not sparring!) and high intensity interval training.
We’ve personally tried all of these options, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Without further ado, let’s dive into the pluses and minuses of each downtown Denver fitness studio.
Tip: If you still can’t decide after reading this review, remember that you can join more than one Denver fitness studio! Colorado is #1 of all states in number of people who are members of two fitness studios. All three Denver gyms featured in this post have are great as a second supplemental fitness studio.
Sign up to try free classes at Denver’s premier boxing fitness studio:
Which fitness studio in downtown Denver is best – Orangetheory Denver versus F45 Denver versus WTF Boxing?
🔸Worth The Fight Boxing & Fitness Studio is an excellent independent fitness studio in downtown Denver with a focus on fun, empowerment, and acceptance.
Worth The Fight Boxing & Fitness Studio is a boxing fitness, HIIT, and bootcamp fitness studio in Denver that focuses on fun as the path to fitness. If working out is fun, you’ll do it more consistently, and you’ll form a habit of working out. It sounds simple, but fitness programming often does not take fun into account very much. WTF Boxing set out to change that while still making sure you get a great workout. The founders of WTF selected boxing because it is a cardio workout that is much more fun than other cardio workout. Would you rather hit your own heavy bag or run on a treadmill? Another enemy of a fun workout is boredom, which WTF combats with significant variation in every workout. This variety is also good for injury prevention.
WTF has banned the word “exercise” due to its association with drudgery and obligation and replaced it with “move more in whatever way you enjoy”, whether that is hiking with your dog, dancing alone, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, or any other form of movement you like.
In a class, you spend half the time hitting your heavy bag and half the time doing high intensity interval training and strength training. If you’re never boxed before, never fear, the WTF staff are great at helping beginners pick it up. If you’re not familiar with boxing as a workout, check out our article on five reasons boxing is a great workout. Boxing is a full body cardio workout that burns at least as many calories as other popular cardio workouts. Every person at WTF is in their own 6 ft by 6 ft square with their own boxing bag and their own HIIT equipment.
Worth The Fight’s workouts can be done by someone at any stage of their fitness journey. Since everyone has their own bag and equipment, they are free to ramp up or down the difficulty as needed. Boxing with good technique, using your core and your legs, is a very tough workout. People who are newer to boxing can ease into it as they learn the technique. Worth The Fight’s programming does not incorporate movements that the vast majority of adults cannot do, such as handstand push-ups. Any difficult movement comes with modifications for newer members. WTF does not want someone to feel uncomfortable about not being able to do any element of its workouts.
The elitism and judgmental attitude in fitness is something overlooked by many other fitness clubs in Denver, but not having that judgmental environment at Worth The Fight is mission-critical to its founders. Some people have expressed that feel like they have to work out before they can even set foot in their downtown Denver gyms – no one should feel that way!
Sign up to get Worth The Fight’s best fitness membership offer! We’re offering lifetime discounts to reward our early backers.
Worth The Fight believes that the path to health and fitness is small, achievable steps performed consistently (NOT perfectly) over time, not restrictive diets, weird supplements, over-the-top exercise regimens, or six-week challenges. In spite of all the marketing telling you otherwise, there is no quick fix to get in shape or lose weight. (If there was, would 60-70% of the American population be overweight?) Quick fixes can sometimes help you lose weight, but what happens when you stop the quick fix? Quick fixes are not sustainable. When people inevitably fall back into their old habits after some extreme quick fix, they feel like they failed and often end up gaining the weight back and sometimes more.
Read more about Worth The Fight’s recommended steps for sustainable weight loss based on the experience of Worth The Fight’s co-founder losing and keeping off 120 pounds through diet and exercise.
No one makes money with ads that say that the only way to get healthy is through long-term lifestyle changes. But that is the truth. Gladys was able to lose 100 pounds (and keep it off!) through long-term lifestyle changes incrementally over time. Changing too much at one time sets you up for failure. Shedding the weight and getting very fit was a life-changing experience for Gladys that showed her the power of fitness and boxing, and that inspired her to open WTF Boxing to help other people achieve the same transformation. If you are looking to lose weight or just get healthier, and you’re tired of quick fixes and six-week challenges that leave you even worse, sign up to get the best promotions from Worth The Fight.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to WTF Boxing. First, because boxing is a skill-based cardio, it can be intimidating if you are a beginner. It can be frustrating when you’re trying to string combinations together and the punches and defensive moves are not coming out right. But WTF Boxing’s staff is great at working with beginners and the WTF programming is designed so that it’s easy to get even complicated combinations. Once you get a hang of the punches and moves, it feels great to crank them out. Second, because it is a single-location business, you can’t use your membership when you are traveling. Third, if you’re looking for a barbell-heavy CrossFit-style workout, that’s not what WTF Boxing programs, generally. Worth The Fight’s workouts have plenty of difficult programming and strength training, but there are no barbells, pull-up bars, handstands, etc.
One last note – if it is important to you to support local small businesses for purposes of helping our local community thrive, WTF Boxing is an independent, locally-owned business, unlike F45 and Orangetheory, which are franchise locations. WTF Boxing is also a female-owned minority-owned business. The owners are Uptown Denver locals who are passionate about bringing about health transformations to their members, and they are in their Denver fitness studio every day helping members along their fitness journey. It’s a very personalized experience – WTF cares about every member. They hold events to help the community bond, manually write their messages rather spamming automated messages, and send handwritten cards to their members.
Sign up if you would like to try a free class or come to WTF’s free events! You can also reach out to WTF Boxing on Instagram @worththefightboxing or the Worth The Fight Facebook page.
🔸Orangetheory is an awesome Denver fitness franchise that you can rely on for a great workout every time.
Orangetheory has been around as a franchise for over a decade and the speed with which it spread across the country is a testament to its popularity. Orangetheory dreamed up the now widely-known “2G” and “3G” (two group and three group) style workouts where the class is divided into two or three groups and the groups rotate through the treadmill, the rowing machine, and the weight floor. Approximately two-thirds of the workout is cardio-focused and one-third is strength-focused. The workouts are high intensity interval training so you are regularly switching up what you are doing on short intervals.
Orangetheory Denver does extensive scientific testing to program its OTF Denver workouts, and the franchisor regularly releases new programming. We have even participated in their annual testing, held in Florida. After completing its testing, Orangetheory Denver comes out with new and improved programming rather than sitting on their laurels as the best fitness franchise. We applaud them for this and the thoroughness of their testing process. You won’t get bored at Orangetheory in Denver because they are always changing things up (although I can’t lie – I do sometimes get bored with running on a treadmill).
OTF Denver also has many fun events. Approximately once a month there is a new challenge or event at the studio. For example, the Dri Tri, Orangetheory’s version of a triathlon, which is a 2000 meter row, 300 reps of bodyweight exercises, and a 5k run on the treadmill. You haven’t lived unless you’ve done the Dri Tri at an Orangetheory in Denver with the high altitude and thin air. Another fun event Orangetheory has is Hell Week in October, which is five workouts with themes inspired by popular scary-movie classics like “Death Row,” the first-ever 23-minute rowing block, and “The Hills Run Red,” a series of rising inclines, each designed to be far more intense and exhausting than standard classes. “Although physically taxing, the classes were always meant to be fun,” reminds Vincent Emanuele, Orangetheory’s Workout Design Specialist. Now try to imagine Hell Week at a Denver OTF 😱.
Another favorite thing about Orangetheory Denver is its heart rate monitors. At OTF Denver, you can wear a heart rate monitor and view which zone your heart rate is in, together with various and sundry data – your calories burned, distance ran, splat points (equal to one minute in the orange or red zone). Most people love this functionality – people are curious about their data – but if you don’t want that information shown, you can turn it off and just enjoy the well-programmed workout. Orangetheory Denver says you should aim to be in the orange or red zone for 12 minutes of a one hour workout so that you can have a higher metabolic rate for the rest of the day. Orangetheory designs all its workouts around this concept.
The physiological theory behind the Orangetheory workout is known as “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption,” or EPOC. Our 1 hour workout is designed to produce 12 minutes or more of intensities at 84% or higher of maximum heart rate. This program design produces workout “after burn” effect, which is an increased metabolic rate for up to 24 hours.-orangetheory
For what it’s worth, there is some scientific disagreement about the afterburn effect, and some people have noted that a cardio-heavy workout may actually be less effective at burning fat than a strength-based workout..It seems to be an area where the science is still settling. The impact of the afterburn effect is relatively small – most of the benefit you gain in terms of weight loss from exercising occurs in the gym, not outside of it! But most people just need to move more in whatever form, whether strength or cardio, so you needn’t get too hung up on this point unless you are super in shape and trying to get even more in shape.
There are not many drawbacks to Orangetheory Denver because both the franchisor and the franchise locations are very well-run – down to a science. One drawback is that running is a fairly injury-prone form of cardio, especially as you get older. If you are not in shape or just not a runner, running can be intimidating. Some people also find some of the running programming boring (typically the longer stretches of just running as opposed to the shorter interval style running workouts). In the Denver Orange Theory locations, you are pretty tightly-packed. See how close the rowers and treadmills are in the above picture? This may be a factor if you are worried about future viruses or being too close to people while working out in Denver.
🔸F45 Denver is a good Denver fitness studio offering HIIT circuit-based classes.
F45 is the new kid on the fitness franchise block, having launched in the United States only a few years ago, but it has quickly risen to be a popular fitness studio franchise. F45 Denver focuses on circuit-based high intensity interval training. Each class is 45 minutes and consists of spending a set amount of time (say, 40 seconds) performing an exercise followed by a set amount of rest (say, 15 seconds) before you move to the next station. F45 says that you can burn up to 1,000 calories in a 45-minute class, which is a great return in calories burned on your time. There are many avid participants on F45’s thriving subreddit – there is no denying that F45 Denver has many fans. F45’s slogan is team training, life changing.
F45 Training is a global fitness community specializing in innovative, high-intensity group workouts that are fast, fun, and results-driven. F45 is specifically designed to provide a functional full-body workout while improving energy levels, metabolic rate, strength, and endurance. The team mentality at F45 Training helps members transform their lifestyle physically and mentally while encouraging community growth and a no-ego attitude.-F45
Classes pass pretty fast, and you save some time by choosing a Denver gym where you can be in and out in 45 minutes. F45 Denver focuses on functional fitness (that’s the “F” in “F45”), so every movement is supposed to have a purpose. F45 in Denver has a huge variety of equipment. We must admit that we have never done exercises at any other Denver fitness studio using sledgehammers or sandbags. This means that there is a lot that is new to keep your interest. F45 says its programming is done by an elite athlete, but we personally felt the programming was a little all over the place at times.
Some fitness professionals have alleged that the F45 programming puts people in average fitness at risk of injury. This may be partly the result of the fact that F45 has such a large diversity of equipment – you probably have never used a sledgehammer or revo bar before. That keeps things interesting, but if you don’t know how to use it properly, you could injure yourself. On the other hand, some people have disputed the assertion that F45 programming puts people at increased risk of injury and have pointed out that other workouts, like CrossFit, have also been identified as resulting in elevated injury risk. That allegation has been disputed by CrossFit and we don’t think the issue has been settled one way or the other, so perhaps the takeaway is that there is some risk of injury with any workout, so make sure that you’re performing movements in your workout correctly and that you’re using the correct weight/size fitness equipment and performing movements with good technique. We did not experience any injuries when doing F45’s workouts.
When you are new to F45 in Denver, it can be hard to understand what is going on because the programming is complicated, and there are tons of F45-specific words to learn. This is a little intimidating, but you will catch up with all the lingo if you stick with it. Also, you spend a lot of time switching between stations. This is exacerbated because the large variety of equipment F45 uses, requiring you to figure out which sledgehammer/revo bar/dumbbell, etc. is the correct one for you in a very short time like 15 seconds. Any extra time this takes eats into the time for the exercise. As a result, you spend a lot of the class not working out.
Lastly, as with OrangeTheory Denver, F45 Denver is a franchise rather than a locally-owned small business. The plus side to F45 being a franchise is that there are many an F45 in Colorado and the United States that you could visit while traveling.
We hope this review helped you to choose a Denver fitness club that you love – and we certainly hope to see you at WTF Boxing! Until we open, you can sign up here for free classes and updates on the opening of Worth The Fight. If you are hungry or thirsty after all that working out, you can satiate your appetite at one of the best restaurants in Uptown Denver or one of the best downtown Denver bars.