The truth about Orangetheory Fitness

Since its launch in 2010, Orangetheory Fitness has become an international fitness phenomenon thanks to the dynamic, science-based formula of the workout. Once you step foot into the clementine-hued studio, the premise is essentially to reach your maximum output as often as possible during the one-hour class.

Orangetheory has found fans around the world because no two workouts are the same. The format of the class is split into three sections: rowing, cardio, and strength-training, as noted by the Orangetheory website. No matter what level your fitness ability is at, the nature of the high-intensity interval training is sure to leave you out of breath. The popular concept is also rooted in technology — and speaks to your inner competitive athlete. As participants wear heart rate monitors during the workout, their efforts and results are displayed on a screen, comparing the progress of each member in real time, as noted by the Daily Mail.

The ultimate aim is to reach what's called the "orange zone" (hence the name of the fitness brand), which is 84 to 91 percent of your maximum heart rate. So what else is there to know about the company? Here's the untold truth of Orangetheory Fitness.

Orangetheory Fitness is based on the theory of post-exercise oxygen consumption

Orangetheory Fitness is rooted in a rather technical — but less well known — exercise science known as EPOC. Maybe you've heard muscleheads at your local gym gloating about their afterburn? Well, that's essentially what EPOC, or post-exercise oxygen consumption, is.

The idea of EPOC is that if a person can keep "a certain maximum heart rate during a workout, they will continue to burn calories long afterward through an oxygen-burning process," according to Inverse. This is where the Orangetheory premise of the five heart rate zones comes into play. The first zone is the easiest, while the fifth is the most intense and will probably feel uncomfortable. The infamous "orange zone" is the fourth zone. As noted by Inverse, Orangetheory claims that spending 25 to 30 minutes in zone two or three and 12 to 20 minutes in zones four or five will yield the best results.

A kinesiologist explained to the outlet, "The longer you spend in these high-intensity zones, the longer this 'afterburn' seems to last."

Orangetheory Fitness locations follow the same format no matter where you are

Whether you're in the U.S. or 10,000 miles away in Australia, the Orangetheory Fitness workout will seem familiar. So while no two sessions will be the same thanks to an ever-changing repertoire of exercises, a 60-minute class in both countries will follow the tried-and-tested ethos. 

According to Prevention, in order to offer both cardio and strength training, an Orangetheory workout involves alternating blocks on the treadmill and the indoor rower. The publication explained that the warm-up usually lasts eight minutes and then each treadmill and rowing exercise amounts to about 20 to 30 minutes, though this will differ depending on the class. These sections will be interlaced with bodyweight and conditioning exercises, as noted by the Orangetheory website

The dynamic mix aims to improve your agility, strength, and stability, as noted by Self, while boosting the caloric burn. And it likely keeps boredom at bay, too.

You can burn calories for up to 36 hours after an Orangetheory Fitness class

The main reason why Orangetheory Fitness is so popular among people of all ages, body types, and fitness abilities may be the fact that you can continue burning calories for at least a day after a class. As noted by the Daily Mail, the goal of the class is "to get into the 'orange zone' — which is above 84 percent of your maximum heart rate — for at least 12 to 20 minutes of the hour-long workout."

"At Orangetheory, you can burn calories for up to 36 hours after you finish the class," celebrity trainer Jono Castano told the Daily Mail. "What this means is that if you workout at Orangetheory on a Monday morning, and hit your target for the orange zone, you could still reap the elevated metabolism benefits on Tuesday evening."

This is because Orangetheory also follows the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format, according to Vox. Put simply, HIIT features moments of intense exercise and moments of rest or less physically demanding movement. This back-and-forth format purports to torch fat in less time than only exercising by doing steady cardio like jogging would.

Orangetheory Fitness members focus on their "splat points"

If you've stepped foot into an Orangetheory Fitness gym even once, you've likely heard a mention of the mythical-sounding "splat points."

According to Cosmopolitan UK, after your first class, a coach will talk you through how you did and share how many splat points you got. These are points awarded for each minute you spent in the red or orange zones. Anything over 12 splat points is seen as a job well done and as further proof that your body will indeed continue to reap the rewards of EPOC and the afterburn. But it actually becomes harder to earn splat points as you exercise more regularly, as your body adapts and it gets more difficult to maintain your time in the orange zone.

As you will be wearing a heart rate monitor during your session, your workout summary — including your calories burned, your splat points, and a breakdown of how long you spent in each of the five zones — will be conveniently emailed to you in a report after every class.

The founder of Orangetheory Fitness has had a lifelong passion for exercise

Orangetheory Fitness is the brainchild of New Yorker Ellen Latham. Growing up in Niagara Falls, Latham's father was a dedicated football coach at a local high school. It was his unwavering passion for sports and coaching that eventually served as her inspiration to follow a career in fitness. At university, Latham studied physical education and physiology. After graduating, she later became a fitness director at a "high-end spa in Florida."

Latham told Today that her father's theory of "momentum shifting up" served as a huge inspiration to her as she began her career in the industry. The sports psychology premise revolves around "focusing on what you have, what you do well, not on what you don't have and don't do well."

Latham has often been heard preaching about her road to success in speeches, and she shared her journey to Orangetheory in the documentary Momentum Shift.

The creator of Orangetheory Fitness was once fired from her job as a fitness director

Before Orangetheory Fitness, its founder Ellen Latham had worked tirelessly to be promoted to Fitness Director at a spa in Miami, Fla. The title was something of a dream for Latham, who had 30 employees working under her and enjoyed regular opportunities to appear on TV to share fitness tips, as noted by NBC News' Know Your Value. But one day in 1996, she was called into her boss's office and received devastating news.

He told her that he had to let her go, which left her distraught, worrying how she would care for her then 9-year-old son Evan as a single parent. However, she told Today that she now looks back on the event as a blessing in disguise and as probably the best thing that ever happened to her. "I was the 'it person' in fitness," she recalled to Know Your Value. "Of course, then I lost everything." She noted that she "really didn't know what I was going to do."

Fortunately, this experience would eventually lead her to creating Orangetheory Fitness. And guess what? According to Franchising.com, her son, Evan, would go on to become an Orangetheory franchise owner!

Before Orangetheory Fitness, Ellen Latham originally started a Pilates studio in her Florida home

When she found herself with no job, Orangetheory Fitness founder Ellen Latham returned to her father's mantra of momentum shifting. "I started soliciting some of the members ... to come and do Pilates at my home in a spare room," she told NBC News' Know Your Value. "And then eventually, I opened up this little 1,100 square-foot space, and it exploded."

Her venture Ellen's Ultimate Workout quickly became a local phenomenon and landed her in newspapers and magazines. Not only was she receiving attention in the media, but her clients were raving about their results. This is because Ellen's Ultimate Workout utilized the same premise that has made Orangetheory an international success story. As Latham explained to Today, it's based on a strategic, scientific-based approach which aims to avoid the plateau that typically comes with many other forms of exercise. 

"As a female, you have to realize you can do big things," she told Know Your Value, adding"I would say to anyone: 'Find what lights your fire. Find what excites you.'"

Orangetheory Fitness is a billion dollar business

Orangetheory Fitness was born in 2010, after creator and co-founder Ellen Latham was approached by one of her clients about going into business together, as shared by Today. The gym is a franchise-based business, meaning that budding entrepreneurs can purchase the format needed to operate their own studio. In 2018, Orangetheory Fitness crossed a threshold to which gyms everywhere aspire when the company crossed brought in more than $1 billion in systemwide revenue, as reported by Club Industry. And that was just eight years after Orangetheory first opened its doors!

Fast-forward to the year 2020, and there are an astonishing 1,300 Orangetheory Fitness studios around the globe in over 20 countries, according to PR Newswire. In 2020, Orangetheory was listed at No. 9 on Entrepreneur's Fastest Growing Franchise list. To NBC News' Know Your Value, Latham proudly revealed that the company serves more than one million members.

Here's how much it costs to open an Orangetheory Fitness location

So, you want to open an Orangetheory Fitness location of your own? Better dig into those pockets of yours as it will cost you at least about $500,000, according to TopFranchise.com. Oh, and you also need to already have a net worth of $500,000.

Ready to get started? Your initial franchise fee will be around $42,500, though it could be higher. Things like the reception desk and logos for the space come in at $11,500, while exterior signage is a minimum of $5,000. You'll also need to have plenty of available funds for three months' rent (at least $18,000), the computer system (around $14,000), and insurance (about $3,500). And that's not even mentioning the $30,000 or so you'll need for advertising ahead of the location's grand opening.

As for the fitness equipment like treadmills and weights? That's going to set you back some $100,000.

Orangetheory Fitness launched an at-home workout option

The 2020 global pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home measures forced gyms across the world like Orangetheory Fitness to shutter in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The solution for many fitness brands was to parlay their formats into digital efforts, but, of course, many devout Orangetheory Fitness fans likely didn't have a treadmill or a rower at home.

Yet, the brand quickly pivoted to launch a series that gave fans the option to follow a different workout every day. Without equipment, members could still feel the burn with a session consisting of a warm-up, cardio, core conditioning, and more. Workouts are shared daily to the Orangetheory Fitness YouTube channel, allowing people to partake whenever they have time — instead of being tethered to a live class schedule.

In July 2020, CEO David Long told Bloomberg that Orangetheory fans had completed over 12 million Orangetheory at-home workouts since March.

This is Orangetheory Fitness' stance on wearing masks while working out

As some Orangetheory Fitness studios across the world reopened their doors amidst the global pandemic, members in certain locations were required to wear a mask. So, people may have been wondering about the truth about going to the gym after quarantine. Well, regardless of a studio's location in the United States, however, company-wide policy outlined that all Orangetheory staff members and trainers must wear a mask for the foreseeable future, as the company shared on their Instagram page. "This is temporary and a little challenging, but hey we tackle challenges. We can tackle masks too," the company said. On July 9, 2020, co-founder and creator Ellen Latham announced on Instagram that over 1,000 studios were back open.

On Instagram, the company urged people to keep an eye on their heart rate screens (as will trainers) and perhaps try working out in different types of masks at home to find the best option. For those uncomfortable with exercising in a face covering, they can social distance and work out using Orangetheory videos at home.

How fitness professionals can become Orangetheory Fitness trainers

What does it take to become an Orangetheory Fitness trainer? According to Missouri-based Orangetheory instructor Tim Brown's experience, applicants must complete an audition to see if they have what it takes to join the brand, as part of a week-long training program before receiving their mic.

It seems that certain fitness professionals like Brown were actually being approached by the brand on social media. Brown told PopSugar that a representative from the company reached out to him before they opened their doors in St. Louis.

Trainers are reported to make up to $40 an hour, according to Indeed. "The pay is amazing," Brown told PopSugar. "I like to tell anyone who will listen it's the best pay you will get in the fitness industry, unless you own the gym." Brown added that another major perk is receiving the brand's merch to wear while you teach — all free!

These celebrities are big fans of Orangetheory Fitness

While there are many rumors about what high-profile celebrities have been known to frequent Orangetheory Fitness studios, the brand remains tightlipped, presumably to protect their privacy. But some stars have opened up about their love for the gym.

The stunning Christina Anstead of HGTV shows Flip or Flop and Christina on the Coast has previously stated her love for the Orangetheory exercise format. "I discovered Orangetheory and I'm totally hooked!" she told People in 2017. "It combines running, which is my favorite workout, with weight training, which I never do on my own. It goes by super quickly and is always challenging. And it helped to get me in the best shape of my 30s!"

Other notable fans of the gym include members of the New York Yankees. Back in 2016, Orangetheory became the Official Fitness Center Sponsor of the popular team, as reported by SportTechie.com. So, for a while, it wouldn't have been unusual to be sharing a room with some well-known sports stars!

Erin Andrews became a spokesperson for Orangetheory Fitness

One famous fan of Orangetheory Fitness is sportscaster and TV personality Erin Andrews. The former Dancing with the Stars co-host became an ambassador for the fitness chain in 2016, as noted by Club Industry.

The Fox Sports NFL sideline reporter said that working out at the gym has been an important part of her wellness routine. When speaking about her commitment to a healthy lifestyle, she told Shape, "I always go to [Orangetheory] because it gets the cardio, the circuit training, and also the rowing in." Noting that she was skeptical that she'd enjoy doing circuit training, she noted, "It's super fun and you get so much done in an hour. I feel bada** when I look up at the screen and I see the calories or the stat points." It's clear that Erin Andrews has had a stunning transformation, and it seems that Orangetheory Fitness may have been a part of that.

She also told BUILD series, "It helps me mentally, I think ... more than physically, and it allows me to be my better self in work and away from work."