Orangetheory exec reveals digital fitness strategy in crowded market – Business Insider

  • Orangetheory Fitness launched a virtual fitness platform so users can livestream classes at home. 
  • Today 90% of its studios are open, and 70% of members have returned for in-person classes. 
  • Orangetheory classes are harder to replicate at home as they require multiple pieces of equipment. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Orangetheory Fitness is steadily rebuilding its business as the pandemic wages on, but it hasn’t been easy. 

For one, unlike other studio-based workouts, Orangetheory’s bootcamp-style class requires multiple pieces of expensive equipment, making it more cumbersome for consumers to replicate at home. While fitness companies like Peloton or Row House call for a single piece of machinery — and thus just one major investment —  Orangetheory workouts tend to involve a treadmill, indoor rowing machine, free weights, resistance bands, and a heart rate monitor. 

Today 90% of its studios are open, and an estimated 70% of its members have returned for workouts. According to Kevin Keith, Orangetheory’s chief brand officer, this rate is “increasing rapidly” as a result of rising accessibility to vaccinations.

Recently, the company also decided to try its hand at virtual fitness with its Orangetheory Live offering launched on March 1. The new service is available via desktop and mobile on Orangetheory’s website and provides members with access to streaming classes, including new workouts designed to work around the time and equipment available to users at home.

Orangetheory members who opt into Live will have access to both in-person and streaming classes, and pricing for these varies by studio location. 

According to Keith, more than 450 of the company’s 1,200 studios across 26 countries are now offering livestreamed workouts. These studios are collectively posting a total of 3,000 workouts a day for users at home. 

“The studio experience is really the core, but Orangetheory Live offers more options for our members,” Keith told Insider. “When the pandemic is behind us one day, Orangetheory Live will be a critical piece of our value proposition and what it means to have a membership. It will give accessibility for our members beyond just in the studio.”

The art of at-home heart rate monitoring

While it may be difficult to make a splash in the increasingly crowded digital fitness market, Keith said Orangetheory Live sets itself apart with its focus on heart rate monitoring, a core part of the in-person class as well. During the course of a session, individuals are instructed to adjust their performance to hit various heart rate zones, designated by color, with orange indicating the highest performance level. 

“[Live gives members] an interactive way to experience that coaching and that community from home and also still get their heart rate monitoring performance in real time, just like they would with the studio,” he said. 

In addition to conducting extensive beta testing with existing members, Keith said Orangetheory worked closely with Amazon Web Services to develop an at-home program that would sync effectively with the brand’s “OT Beat” heart rate monitors. The OT Beat functions as a monitor that can be worn on the wrist and is available for $109 through the Orangetheory website.

Orangetheory also conducted training sessions to teach coaches how to lead classes in a virtual environment and share tips for navigating the nuances of instructing online. According to Keith, more than 700 coaches are currently trained to lead Orangetheory Live classes. 

“It’s different than the in-studio experience,” Keith said. “It requires an even more energetic personality and the ability to engage with a member who’s not physically present with you, but is virtually present. Interactivity was something we learned was absolutely crucial.” 

Orangetheory treadmill

An Orangetheory coach guides a group through treadmill drills.
Orangetheory

Bringing members back to the studio

Orangetheory declined to provide financial details related to its online and traditional memberships. But as the company works to ramp up its online following and steadily bring people back to its brick-and-mortar locations, it is also looking to bolster other revenue streams, including its retail business. 

Though the company has long sold its own merchandise and apparel on its website, it recently teamed with Lululemon on an collection of workout clothing, a strategic push to capitalize on the success of the athletic wear company during the pandemic. 

“We listened to our members and noted their favorite brands,” he said. “We have our own retail products, which have been very successful, but we also wanted to keep it fresh and keep innovation coming in through strategic partnerships.”

Keith said the company will also look to increase its connected fitness offerings, by selling more of its OT Beat heart rate monitors, which tracks personal information in the accompanying Orangetheory app. Apple Watch users can also connect to the app, allowing more accessibility to members at home. 

Looking ahead, he said Orangetheory plans to double down on its focus on heart rate monitoring as a major differentiator between itself and competitors like Barry’s Bootcamp. With the help of its newly appointed Chief Analytics Officer Ameen Kazerouni, the company is investing in new ways to use its extensive collection of data to better personalize and customize workouts. 

“We’re really focused this year on leveraging our data more strategically and proactively for members so they’re getting more insights about their workouts with us,” he said. 

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