The doors to its 1300+ franchise locations might currently be closed, but longstanding boutique fitness brand Orangetheory Fitness is raring to get back to its global growth strategy.
As one of the world’s fastest-growing fitness franchises, with a presence in over 23 countries, at last check, its heart-rate based interval training had helped to generate the company $180 million in annual revenue.
A recent partnership with Apple Watch, which will enable members to track their heart-rate data during workouts, has also helped to create a more seamless brand experience. By further tapping into consumer demand for more personalised and real-time performance data, it continues to demonstrate its ability to evolve alongside the market. And despite the fact it has been forced to migrate to digital workouts as it rides out the effects of COVID-19, the brand continues to lay the tracks for future growth — with the UK firmly in its crosshairs.
To discover more about how Orangetheory Fitness plans to scale in southern England, we spoke with Barry Ashby, Director of Operation for Orangetheory Fitness UK and Paul Kuebler, Executive Director – International Development for Honors Holdings LLC, the group actively developing the market for the brand.
When it comes to UK growth, what’s in the pipeline?
BA: We currently have two new studios in build stage in central London for Q2 2020 opening. More studios are planned after that for 2020 and 2021, with longer-term plans being to own and operate up to 15 sites and franchise 20-30 sites across Southern UK.
How has Orangetheory Fitness been laying the foundations needed for growth in the UK?
BA: Our group, Honors Holdings LLC, purchased the master franchise rights for Orangetheory in Southern UK back in 2017.
When Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) was looking for a master franchise partner the brand wanted one that could take on the UK market and successfully roll out the brand in such a key international location.
Our President Jamie Weeks, was already a highly successful OTF owner in the US and had won multiple franchisee of the year awards for his ability to not only grow the brand but also deliver exceptional experiences in each studio he has operated. So, after we acquired the master franchise rights, we went about setting strong and firm foundations for the brand to grow over the long-term.
The opportunity to scale quickly without getting systems, service and standards right in the legacy studios and also build a correct pipeline of desirable locations could have been overlooked in the need for quick growth, but luckily with our experience in growing the brand in the US, we were able to draw from that.
This allowed our UK team to collaborate with the US group and create actions that would ultimately provide British consumers with the very best experience, each time they enter our UK OTF studios. We now sit in a position where those systems and company culture can be easily replicated as we begin to scale.
When scaling in such a competitive market like the UK, what’s the focus?
PK: Whilst we honestly don’t think the UK market is too crowded for our brand — we have had so much success in so many communities — we have been working hard to boost awareness.
We focus on building communities in each of our studios by enabling each member to achieve their personal goals and by providing excellent member service and personal interaction.
Having happy communities is the best way to grow awareness in the UK. And as we open more locations, like our new location in Fulham and upcoming location near Bank, we will engage even more communities.
And how about innovation, what role does that play in cultivating growth?
PK: One of our core values at OTF is innovation, So as a brand we’re constantly working on new initiatives, such as the partnership with Apple Watch, which is going to be rolled out later this year in the US.
We also recently rolled out an interactive screen in the UK, for members to be able to track their results on their treadmill console as well as on the overall TV screen — we call it OTConnect.
These innovations are designed to further help engage our members by giving them personal feedback, and also to gain more members who see what OTF can do. Ultimately this increases our reach and revenue.
What positive impact do you see a franchise like Orangetheory having on the fitness industry in the UK?
BA: The franchise model, whilst conceptually relatively new to the fitness industry versus other industries, has been shown to be extremely successful if done correctly. The growth in consumer demand for fitness over the past ten years has grown exponentially and without franchising opportunities, the demand would have outweighed the opportunity to supply.
Franchising has opened up the door and allowed entrepreneurs and investors from outside the fitness industry to step in and operate highly successful businesses. The industry prior to this could have been seen as quite insular and therefore thoughts and strategies were pretty stale.
Now with franchising, it’s allowed business owners from all walks of life to enter the market and share their knowledge and help drive the growth requirement successfully. Our ownership group is a clear example of this happening to great effect. We have taken the tried and tested processes established by OTF Corporate and have adapted them to be used in the UK market successfully. The consistency of our product is key to our members’ success, so we are very serious about upholding the high standards in our studios.
What is Orangetheory Fitness’ Secret Sauce?
PK: Orangetheory Fitness is a one-hour full-body group workout that is individually tailored. It focuses on heart-rate based training that makes it effective and unique. It is backed by science and proven to burn more calories post-workout.
Since the workouts are tracked by technology, members can monitor their results in real-time, and each workout is inspired and lead by certified coaches to make sure that members don’t over or under-train. All of these components create a fantastic community and a sense of accountability that helps our members achieve great results.
Studio by studio, community by community, country by country, we have grown very organically for these reasons. Simply said, it is an excellent product with great systems supporting it and that is what has made so many happy members. We are so proud to be able to offer this unique experience to British people, together with the other OTF franchises in the midlands in the north.