Orangetheory’s high-intensity growth will continue without a rest period

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Photo: Orangetheory

Back in 2014, we told you to get ready for Orangetheory to come to your town, stat. And just two years later, that prediction has come true—and then some.

After six years in business, there are 470 open Orangetheory studios, scattered across nearly every state in the US (not to mention 12 countries).

“If you go back early on, when we were opening the first 10 or 20 locations, I don’t know if we knew we’d accelerate to where we are now,” admits David Long, CEO of one of the fastest-growing group fitness franchises in the country.

And it looks like the HIIT brand’s high-intensity rate of expansion also comes with endurance. The brand is on track to open a new location every day this year (barring holiday-related delays in December, which may push a few to January) and will ramp up its international presence in a huge way in 2017.

After six years in business, there are 470 open Orangetheory studios, scattered across nearly every state in the US (not to mention 12 countries).

Why has the interval training boot camp class caught on, from Iowa to Montreal to Japan?

“I think there are a few things, but the most central reason is the actual workout is so effective and so well-rounded that it just appeals to a really broad audience,” Long says. (Curious about what an Orangetheory class is like? Check out our sweaty report from class.) “It’s a really great foundational workout for virtually everybody,” he adds.

Long has a point. The fact that the brand doesn’t have the cachet of SoulCycle and isn’t as difficult as Barry’s Bootcamp actually works in its favor by eliminating the intimidation factor while still delivering an effective session in a way-cooler-than-the-gym environment.

The brand started and has thrived in the suburbs, and when I ask Long if it’s had a harder time in big cities where there are tons of high-quality boutique fitness offerings to compete with, he reports that the Los Angeles locations are some of the highest-performing studios. “We’ve never closed a store or gone into a market that didn’t work,” he says, although opening in urban areas takes much, much longer—so growth is slower. The first Manhattan location in New York City, for instance, opened in early 2015, but Long says they expect four more to debut in Manhattan in 2017.

Photo: Orangetheory
Photo: Orangetheory

Another reason for the recent sprint-pace growth that Long points to is a “snowball effect” that happens with the franchising model. Initially, it takes some time for each new franchisee to get a studio up and running, but after they do it once, if they see demand for more, opening additional locations is much easier and faster now that they’ve already mastered the game.

That effect feeds further development in existing markets, but Orangetheory is also looking abroad to make lots of new inroads. Studios are currently under development in 20 countries, and Long says in early 2017 you can expect several additional London studios plus the first locations in Germany and Spain. A development partner is ramping up its presence in Australia, and he expects to eventually have 40 to 50 locations there.

Of course, opening doors is the first step and just one small piece of long-term success. “It’s really a matter of making sure we don’t lose the quality experience as we grow,” he says. “That’s really the focus—making sure that no matter where we open, you go try a workout, and you’re going to walk away thinking, ‘Wow, that was a great experience for me.'”

Temperatures may be dropping, but your workout routine is heating up! Check out our Fall Fitness Preview, your guide to having your healthiest fall yet. And make sure to mark your calendars: Well+Good’s annual Fitness Biathlon in NYC is back this October 22.

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