Earlier this year Orangetheory Fitness announced it had exceeded $1billion in sales – an impressive milestone that was beyond co-founder Ellen Latham’s wildest dreams.
Prior to setting up the trailblazing business along with its CEO Dave Long, Ellen was a 40-year-old single mother to a nine-year-old who had just lost her job managing a high end fitness spa in Miami, Florida.
Flash forward 20 years and Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) boasts 800,000 members across 1,100 studios in 49 American states and 22 countries, with its exercise program loved by the likes of former First Lady Michelle Obama and Made in Chelsea’s Ryan Libbey.
Ellen, now 62, claims the exercise plan is suitable for anyone aged between 16 to 80, and promises members will feel the results after 10 classes and see the difference after 20.
Prior to co-founding OrangeTheory Fitness, Ellen was a 40-year-old single mother to a nine-year-old who had just lost her job managing a high end fitness spa in Miami, Florida
Speaking to FEMAIL, Ellen, who is now worth over $93million according to Forbes in 2016, admitted she was ‘devastated’ when she lost her job in 1996 and realised she had no income to support her child.
‘It was at that time I learned so much about myself and how important it is to focus on what you have and not what you don’t have,’ she recalled.
‘I started a small spinning program – before there were spinning classes all over – and started training clients in pilates out of a spare room in my house.
‘I got into pilates because I saw the great value of working out your inside ‘posture’ muscles along with your outside muscles, and how it not only changed a body but gave it great anti-ageing results.
‘I got so busy I opened up a small pilates studio. But after a while my members were frustrated that they were not getting any fat burning results.
Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) boasts 800,000 members across 1,100 studios in 49 American states and 22 countries
‘Pilates is great for inside muscles but does not do much for fat burning. They were working with personal trainers, jogging, taking spinning classes on the side but still not getting the results they wanted.
‘So I decided to move to a bigger space and add what I called the “ultimate workout”, which was the foundation for the OTF workout.’
Ellen said she is proud of OTF’s high profile member base and feels ‘really lucky’ that celebrities endorse the workouts.
‘Recently Michelle Obama was in London for her book tour and mentioned she visited one of our London studios, which is obviously exciting for London,’ she said.
Ellen said she is proud of OTF’s high profile member base and feels ‘really lucky’ that celebrities endorse the workouts
‘The most satisfying thing for me due to OTF’s success is the almost one million human beings that are healthier, have more energy day to day, will, I believe, live longer and with less medical issues.
‘Our communities have given people support systems, relationships, friendships and even improved mental health. What more can I ask for in life? I got into this business over 40 years ago to do just that.’
Ellen designed OTF ‘for everyone’, with categories for walkers, joggers and runners so everyone can participate.
Ellen designed OTF ‘for everyone’, with categories for walkers, joggers and runners so everyone can participate
Each Orangetheory class consists of a 60-minute, full-body workout that is taught by highly-trained coaches.
‘It’s a premium, all-inclusive and highly effective class-based workout, incorporating treadmills, rowers and floor exercises,’ Ellen explained.
You are now entering the ‘Orange Zone’…
The OTF program is focused around heart-rate based interval training, which helps members elevate their heart rate to the ‘Orange Zone’, which is 84 to 91 per cent of their maximum heart rate.
Heart rate monitors are worn to measure the members’ heart rate response in real time.
The goal for high calorie burn and cell stimulation is to get the heart rate in the orange/red zone for a combined 12 minutes.
You accomplish this in bitesize boughts of exertion – not all 12 minutes at one time, but throughout an hour-long class.
Each minute you spend in the Orange and Red Zone (92-100 per cent of max heart rate) earns a member a Splat Point.
The goal is to earn 12 or more Splat Points in the 60 minute class for optimal calorie burn.
Twelve minutes in the Orange Zone during an hour-long workout activates Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which maximises calorie burn for up to 36 hours after exercise.
Your heart rate, along with your Splat Points and calorie burn is displayed on screens in the studio to help you and your coach track your progress throughout the session.
‘I am an exercise physiologist and the workout is science-backed – based on afterburn through anaerobic interval trading.
‘There is “inside and outside” muscle stimulation, plus power-building using non-impact rowers, and I created a format containing “endurance, strength and power” elements.’
The workout is technology tracked, so everyone wears an ‘OTbeat’ heart rate monitor which supplies information on how your body is responding in real time.
The workouts are designed in a fitness lab in Florida with a medical advisory board weighing in regularly, and OTF coaches offer a different workout everyday.
‘Their main job is to make our members successful and feel positive about themselves,’ Ellen said.
‘Members will move between cardio intervals using treadmill, bikes or striders to the weight-room floor for building their inside and outside muscles, to rowers where we build power.
‘Orangetheory is the multi-vitamin workout that you should do two to four times a week.’
The hour-long interval-based classes are an extremely efficient form of whole-body exercise, delivering benefits more quickly than typical solely cardio or weights workouts.
Every session incorporates both cardio and weights, with the aim that you see results from head to toe.
‘If members are attending class consistently at least three times a week, they will typically feel the difference in 10 classes and see the difference in 20 classes,’ Ellen explained.
‘It is important to note that everyone is different and any new member joining OrangeTheory should talk about their specific goals with one of our certified coaches.’
Ellen says the OTF method is designed to fight cellular decline, which causes us to age.
The former First Lady (pictured) has received much curiosity from mid-life women about how she achieved her killer biceps
There are currently six OrangeTheory studios in the UK, and Ellen said there are plans for further expansion as it’s seen a great response
‘Alternating bursts of fast running, rowing and floor work, with periods of recovery, conditions your muscles to work more economically at higher speeds,’ she said.
‘This is the magic of our workout. Your base pace is where stamina lives – you lose this in your cells as you age.
‘Your push pace is where you thrust horsepower into the cell and all-out allows you to manage a lactic acid build up and you gradually become more tolerant, which all leads back to building more stamina. More youthfulness and energy equals more life.’
There are currently six OrangeTheory studios in the UK, and Ellen said there are plans for further expansion as it’s seen a great response.
‘It’s brilliant to see our community continue to grow and we’re very excited about developing our brand further over here,’ she told FEMAIL.
Made in Chelsea star Ryan Libbey, a personal trainer, is also a fan of the OrangeTheory workout
The three types of classes at OTF
Treadmill: Short and explosive all-outs on the treadmills
Rowers: Short distance, high wattage rows
Floor: Fast and dynamic moves on the floor.
Treadmill: Long incline runs on the treadmills
Rowers: Aim for high wattage rows
Floor: Fewer reps with bigger weights on the floor.
Treadmill: Long blocks with few all-outs on the treadmills
Rowers: Rowing for distance
Floor: Slow and controlled movements on the floor.
‘Orangetheory Fitness is also more than just a workout, and members join for the community too.
‘The staff and members are there for each other to support and inspire everyone to reach their personal goals, so I would say it is definitely worth the investment.’
Orangetheory Fitness is running an introductory offer of three classes for just £30 which you can get by visiting orangetheoryfitness.co.uk.
For more information about the OTF community, visit the @orangetheorylondon Instagram page.