I Tried 5 Popular Fitness Places and Here’s What I’ve Found

UPDATE 9/11/18

I ended up joining Orange Theory back in April and have loved it ever since. Here’s a completely honest and thorough review I wrote about it on Yelp. I was in a fitness rut with video workouts and I feel that OTF pushes me beyond what I could do on my own. Several other members feel the same way.

If you end up joining, come holler at ya girl at 5 AM at the West Omaha location. (And also put my name down as your referral!)

Let’s face it. Getting fit and in shape is no walk in the park. You have to start being mindful of what you eat, how much sleep, how much water you consume and you need to start finding an exercise routine you can stick with. My glutes hurt just thinking about it.

It’s really intimidating to make that first step and join a fitness place, but even more so intimidating when there are roughly a bajillion places to choose from.

Kosama? Crossfit? Orange Theory? Kickboxing? Bodyshaping Places? This is not to mention the regular ol’ go in and workout gyms, too. Where do you even start?

I think most people find their way to these places from a friend who has gone there, experienced it and has recommended it back. Welp, consider me that friend.

I did all the hard work, endured all the awkward made-a-fool-of-myself moments just so I could report my findings. These are solely my unbiased opinions and observations in my time spent at each place.

Some Background (Skip This Section If You Want to Get to the Reviews ASAP)

I’m primarily a runner that signs up for half marathons after birthing each child in hopes of regaining my pre-pregnancy body. My cross training is usually workout videos in my basement- thanks Beachbody, still ain’t buying your $130 shakes though. I tried to make sure each experience was about as “equal” as it could be so:

  1. I showed up at 5 am to work out at each place
  2. I worked out for exactly 3 workouts at each place over the course of the week
  3. I came with an I-will-do-whatever-you-tell-me-to attitude

I nearly died.  Ok slightly dramatic, but I did finish them all and I’m here to tell it.

Kosama Review

I’ve driven by this several times in Legacy so I thought, why not I’ll start here. Kosama is a boot camp/group training fitness program that incorporates a lot of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), kettle bell workouts, kickboxing, plyometrics and other types of exercises. When I initially showed up a few minutes late (of course) I walked right into the warm up and started right away. It was a fairly open gym floor with mirrors at the front and pretty energized instructors.  There was the “main” instructor and then a secondary instructor that walked around to ensure people had the right form.

We hit the kettlebells hard that first morning and though I consider myself fit, it was still intense and challenging. When I came in for my next workout, it was kickboxing and they informed me that they didn’t have extra gloves I could wear so I could purchase some for $35 or I could just not hit the bag. I chose to hit air instead of paying $35, but I also felt like the person with an imaginary friend.

Since this was my first stop, I had nothing to compare it to but I couldn’t help to notice how unnoticed I was. I went in and out and I didn’t get the sense that many people were acknowledged, at least not by name. I suppose, though, if their purpose was to provide people with a killer workout then mission accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely enjoyed the workout and would return, but in some ways, it felt no different than a workout in my own basement.

*Note: I acknowledge that this vibe could very well have been specific to this location. I’m only telling my personal experience.

Average Length of Workouts: 45-55 minutes

Cost: There’s an initial cost of $199 which gives you a heart rate monitor and kickboxing gloves, but then it’s $109/month with no contract or $99/month with a 12-month commitment.

Who Might Like Kosama: Someone who likes change and wants a more toned body can really appreciate Kosama. There were people there of all shapes and sizes and I liked that they accommodated for different levels of intensity for each move (Level 1, Level 2, etc.). While I feel the workouts were effective, the community aspect wasn’t really strong but I recognize that some people like that. If you’re the type that wants to get in a workout and on with your day (and socializing may be exhausting for you) this might be a good fit. Overall, I’d be back again…maybe bringing friends I know…and boxing gloves.

CrossFit Nerve Review

I realize that most CrossFit gyms aren’t part of a franchise which I why I had to choose a place close to my home and Crossfit Nerve fit the bill. Now much like the rest of the population outside the CrossFit world, I had some preconceived notions that I attempted to mute as I went here. Right away the atmosphere felt warm.

Cody, the owner,  greeted me and so did several other members- this is one of the good stereotypes I remember about Crossfit gyms. The place was clean, thoughtfully designed, and had a very modern feel. I’ve been to other CrossFit gyms that appear more like a person’s workout garage/basement, but this was definitely not it.

As a runner, I quickly realized that how my body was so ill-prepared for the workouts that awaited me. There was lots of strength training, vernacular I didn’t understand, and technique/form I had yet to master. Jerk? Clean? Double Unders? Cody and the rest of the members were extremely gracious and encouraging as I awkwardly learned how to hold things, lift things, use things for stretching, and pretended I knew what they were talking about. It was all so new yet their words and actions made left me feeling like I belonged. The community aspect of Crossfit is one I love- I wish so much that it could be replicated in other settings.

The workouts were challenging and physically pushed me to my limits several times, but I feel stronger and better for having experienced it. I think everyone needs to try Crossfit at least once.

Average Length of Workout: 1 hour

Cost: Depending on your commitment level, it ranges from $165/month-$199/month with discounts offered for military personnel, LEO, or first responders.

Who Might Like Crossfit (Nerve): If you’re looking for a place where people quickly know you by name and widen the social circle then CrossFit is for you. Since there is a bit of a learning curve (technique and terminology) then you do to have to recognize it may take you awhile to get acclimated into the workouts. I also believe that CrossFit is a good fit for someone who seeks to build muscle because of all the strength training and goal-centered incremental weight increases. As for this specific gym, Cody has the exact persona of a motivating, personable CrossFit coach that would make it his personal mission to see your success.

Orange Theory Fitness Review

They take their name seriously and had the orange theme even in their lights. By no fault of their own, I showed up just a few minutes before 5 am so I didn’t get a chance to tour the place but I also had no problem jumping right in. They gave me a wrist heart rate monitor and off I went to the rowing machines. On this particular Monday, we rotated through the row machines, weights, and treadmill 3 times each at about 5 minutes at each station. (9 rotations total)

I have this theory about Orange Theory. Half of your membership costs goes towards paying for the sanitizing wipes because that place goes through them like hotcakes! But that’s a good thing because I felt it was really clean.

The remaining two workouts were approximately 15 minutes at each station. Though it was the same “setting”, they kept things fresh and changed the intensity/endurance level for each place. For instance, I hate running on a treadmill but because of the amount of change in incline and speed, it was far more tolerable. The variety in the weight station and even in the row machines was also fun and challenging.

What I really love about Orange Theory is that they were the only place that gave me a borrowed heart rate monitor. I loved seeing my heart rate on the screen and really know how much I was pushing myself. When you reached the “orange” zone, you were getting the maximum calorie burn that could continue to work even 36 hours later. The goal for each workout was to get at least 12 minutes in the orange zone otherwise known as “splat points”. The other thing I loved was the email that sent me my statistics from my workout. I would later learn that it wasn’t only after each workout, but it also kept tabs on my cumulative score. For a person who doesn’t love numbers, I loved this.

Average Length of Workout: 1 hour

Cost: Unlimited Sessions are $159/month, but with a 6-month commitment it’s $149/month

Who Might Like Orange Theory: If you like cardio then you will like Orange Theory. If you’re a runner (like me) then I think it’s a great cross-training place to help with your stamina and pace. If you like measuring progress outside of inches and pounds then you will love receiving emailed reports. It helps stay engaged and hopefully motivated to continue to do better. I also believe with membership you can use the other locations throughout the town so there’s convenience as well!

9Round Kickboxing Review

Until I started Core De Force earlier this year, I had very little familiarity with kickboxing but I was excited to try 9Round and see what it was all about. I mean, a 30-minute circuit workout and show up whenever you want- talk about flexibility.

The way it works is you can jump in at any time at any available station and do 3 minutes of a workout with a 30-second spike in between each station. There is some technique needed to do it properly, but with just one employee it was hard for him to come around and help everyone. I really enjoyed how fast it was and though each station was the “same”, the variety in the way you hit the bags kept it fresh.

I was a bit surprised by how narrow of a facility it was and though I’m not a large person, there were times when I felt that it was a little crammed between stations. That didn’t seem to bother most people and I personally know of people who have had amazing results here.

Average Length of Workout: 30 minutes

Cost: $149 Registration cost that includes wraps, gloves, heart rate monitor, online access. If you pay month-to-month with no commitment then it’s $23/week or if you commit for a year it’s $18/week.

Who Might Like 9Round: Someone who wants to slim down and look toned will probably find this place appealing. The interior is a straightforward kickboxing gym appearance without all the bells and whistles. They have one restroom (no showers) because I think the intention is to be in and out of there.  If you’re looking for a quick workout with extreme time flexibility (so no set class times) then 9Round is where it’s at.

Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping Review

There’s a lot to like about Farrell’s. For starters, martial art style shoes are the only shoes allowed on their floor and since I only have running shoes,  I got to work out in my socks (several others did as well). What I learned is that everyone who joins Farrell’s starts off on a 10-week challenge that mixes kickboxing, strength training, nutrition, and accountability with roughly an 80% completion rate– that’s impressive. I came in on about week 4 of a 10-week challenge and immediately got right into the kickboxing.

What I loved about them is that had a “partner” system so it allows you the opportunity to build community and encourage one another. For as large of a group as it was at 5 am (I counted roughly 35 people), everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming. There were people of all different body types and ages. As I went throughout the week, I quickly realized that a lot of the instructors were people who worked out at the gym themselves and every one of them had gone through that 10-week challenge. There were 3 fitness evaluations along the way and the owner said just about everyone improves over the course of the 10 weeks. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that at the end of the challenge you could win a $1,000 prize for your results.

Average Length of Workout: 45 minutes

Cost: The 10-Week Challenge is $453 and that includes 60 classes, a group coach, and boxing gloves/wraps. (Heart monitor is extra) Once you complete the 10-week challenge then it ranges from $74/month to $56/month based on your commitment level.

Who Might Like Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping: If you like structure and need a high level of accountability then this would be it for you. The 10-week challenge has a reasonably high completion rate and being assigned a coach to help encourage you (when you don’t show up) may help many people stick to the program. Then there’s the opportunity to win the cash prize and money always incentivizes people, right?! I also found that the community is was extremely friendly and encouraging for being a non-Crossfit place so that was nice!


I don’t love running on treadmills, using kettlebells, lifting with resistance bands, or awkwardly learning the different lifting techniques. But I did it. For me and for you.

There are so many different and great options out there that will fit varying budgets, time constraints, workout preferences, and community involvement levels- you really can’t go wrong. Most of these place offer some sort of a trial so get out there and try it…and maybe tell them Cam Vacek sent you 😉

Also, if any of you saw me at any of these places, please comment below where!





  1. I am a member of Crossfit Nerve and I truly believe you experienced what each member does- a warm welcome, amazing support and well-educated coaches. I’m thrilled you got to visit Nerve’

    1. YES! It was such a welcoming experience and such a great CrossFit experience. No wonder they do so well…

  2. I have been working out at Farrell’s for over two years and I love everything about it. Always a challenge no matter how long you’ve been a member. I especially love the family vibe and atmosphere. We are all on different journeys, but someone will always inspire you as well as you inspire someone else.

    1. Though I didn’t do the 10-week challenge (obviously) I totally got that vibe. They’re doing great things at Farrell’s!

  3. I did the Farrell’s 10-week program and loved it. They do have an amazing community and I loved that the more experienced people working out didn’t mind taking a minute to help with proper form in the first couple of weeks.

    1. That’s awesome and it seems that with the proper support and community, there’s a reason most people find success at Farrell’s!

  4. I was coming in as you were leaving Farrell’s! I’m a ten weeker and I really love it so far! Thanks for the great reviews!

    1. If we run into each other again, can we high five?

  5. Thank you for this! This is a great testimony of all of these places! I am biased to Farrell’s but have tried so many of these places!

    1. Thanks, Wayne!

  6. I’ve been a member of Farrell’s on 180 Q for over a year! Love the workouts and family atmosphere!!!!

    1. Yes! That’s the exact vibe I was sensing in the short time I was there.

  7. Im glad you enjoyed working out at Farrells at 180th and Q- I am a runner too and joined there 5 years ago for a quick fix and have stayed because I love the people and the workouts always push me. (And my run times have improved too:) It really is a great gym for all ability levels. I appreciated your review!!

    1. Thank you for your comment! I would love to get back up to a faster running pace so this may just be the place to do it.

  8. I was at Farrell’s one day when you were there! You said it perfectly in your review! The community within is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone!!

    1. Awesome! Thanks for noticing and commenting!

  9. FXB 180 is indeed awesome. Great to see that you got a taste of what we members know. It’s a super supportive gym that challenges us all, regardless of age or fitness level. Thanks for the post.

    1. Yes! It seems the consensus from other members is the same. Looks like Brandon is going to get quite a bit more traffic…

  10. An absolutely awesome friend of mine has worked at Kosama for two or three years and is in kick ass shape. But no, they aren’t the warmest people even to her. She said that even as someone that works there, she doesn’t get greeted by many staff.

    1. Thanks for responding and it’s a bit reassuring to think that it wasn’t just me. I think you will definitely get in good shape at Kosama, but again, it comes back to the feeling of community that MANY people desire.

  11. Love this, Cam!!! I wish we were still in Omaha! This would definitely help!!! 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading friend!

  12. Cam, I worked out next to you on your last day at Farrells. You nailed it with the community feel. It is the culture of community and accountability that has kept me there over a year with amazing results physically and mentally. You dont show up, you get facebook messages and emails. Also, i have been encouraged from across the gym, to not give up when i wanted to take a little nap from exhaustion. A huge high five to you. You were killing it on the bag!

    1. Ericka, thank you for your comment! You’re among several that have sung your praises for Farrell’s so it goes to show to confirm what little I gathered on a trial week. Keep up the hard work and hopefully, we run into each other again!

  13. So what did you like the most or which one would you do again?

    1. Honestly, it’s hard to say which one I liked most because there was a lot that I liked about each of them. I haven’t joined one, but if I were to I’d likely lean towards Orange Theory or Farrell’s. As a runner, these are the ones I’m most drawn there are clearly people who love and stick with the others.

  14. So glad you were able to experience the great group of members at FXB 180th! It’s definitely an encouraging place with a wide variety of people with differing goals. I started my journey there 4 years ago and my only regret is not starting sooner. We hope to see you back again someday! Who knows, maybe that 10 week challenge is calling your name. 🙂

    1. Hey Kristin, That’s really encouraging to hear (for me reading it and others who will see this comment). Maybe it is… 😉

  15. I’m very impressed by this article. You had 3 of my options that I couldn’t decide between. Based on your review I know what will be the best fit for me.
    Thanks !

    1. Fantastic! I’m glad it was helpful 🙂

  16. What would be good for someone who is very new to working out and definitely needs that structure and being told what to do to lose weight? I have terrible endurance and never been very active but I’ve gained so much weight the last year, I can’t ignore it anymore. I heard about cross fit n orange theory which is how I came to this page but still lost on what would be good for someone like me. My goal is to lose weight and get tone.

    1. Hi Sami, that’s great you’re taking the first step! Of all the places I’ve tried, I think a good “beginners” place might be a program place that focuses on fitness AND nutrition. I know Farrell’s does a good job at this and also have heard that UBX does too. While I do love me some Orange Theory and Crossfit, I could see these being intimidating for beginners. Good luck!

  17. Hi Cam Vacek,
    I’m joining orange theory probably from next month. I am 250 pounds and i want to shred almost 40 pounds by December. Can you suggest me is orange theory the right choice of gym. And if there is some other gym that can help me lose 10 pounds a month. I would love to try it.
    Please advise

    1. Hey Yash,

      While I’m a big fan of Orange Theory, I can honestly say that it’s best to find your own gym. Many people have experienced a lot of weight loss at OT, but it can also be highly intimidating because of the intensity (it also depends on the time slot you go). I would suggest you give it a try before you commit, but there are also other fitness programs that focus more heavily on nutrition than Orange Theory does. As I’ve come to learn, nutrition is more the key to losing weight than any fitness regime.

      Good luck on your decision and path towards health!

      1. THANK YOU Cam Vacek for the reply. I will consider the advise given by you for losing weight. if you can give some tips how to be full of nutrition during weight loss.

        Thank you,

        1. Of course! Unfortunately, I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t help you there. (And unfortunately I don’t have a recommendation)

  18. I have been going to Orange Theory for about 5 years, I love it. Recently started up with Rockbox Fitness and trying to decide which is easier on my 64-year-old knees. LOL

    1. That’s great, but yes, it’s definitely not super easy on your knees over a long period of time.