Jason Dunlop, International President of Orangetheory Fitness

Orangetheory Fitness

US-born boutique studio Orangetheory Fitness, known for its tech-enabled HIIT classes, is built to scale. With 1,800+ franchises signed across 25 countries in 13 years, the concept has found international appeal.

Now, with the pandemic in the rearview, International President Jason Dunlop shares how OTF is reinvigorating its expansion efforts, including an advantageous development deal with London studio group Digme Fitness.

As we approach the end of 2023, how’s business? What’s the OTF status report?

Jason Dunlop: 2023 has been great for Orangetheory Fitness, particularly internationally.

We’ve exceeded expectations, outpacing the market. We’re seeing revenue growth of 16.7% in Europe alongside membership growth of 14.7%, with the latter being critical to our global expansion efforts.

What’s driving international expansion?

JD: After smart management through the pandemic, we’re re-energising our international expansion, looking to grow our 1.5K-unit global studio base by empowering local franchisees to drive expansion within their territories.

It starts with a consumer-centric approach. Our franchisees, based in-market, are better able to identify how Orangetheory can meet consumers in their areas and are well-positioned to tackle the unique challenges as they present themselves.

We’re also going to be logical and considerate with our growth plans. For us, it’s not necessarily about selling as many licences as we can but rather about finding the right partners, then helping these groups grow their revenue sustainably.

Tell us about the acquisition by Digme Fitness in the UK; how does this partnership align with the broader strategy?

JD: Orangetheory is looking to expand its UK studio base with 20 new sites by 2026, and our partnership with Digme is the first step for that.

We attract franchisees and area developers with a range of skills, but the common thread is they’re all passionate about innovation, driven to bring the latest fitness trends to their market, and are excited by a business opportunity – and Digme is no different.

Digme has four London-based studios of its own already, but we see the Orangetheory offering as complementary to that, with a different offering that allows us to meet the consumer where they are.

Additionally, having Dan Williams, co-founder and former CEO of WIT Fitness, lead the Orangetheory London business means there is a ton of experience on the operational side. An intangible, Dan is also in tune with the London market through previous membership-based businesses, and we’re excited to see the direction he takes the brand there.

How does OTF select and support franchisees to ensure success for operators and members?

JD: We’ve had franchisees come from a host of different sources, from members keen to take on their own studio to experienced fitness franchisees – and it’s really the passion that’s the defining trait.

Once onboard, we prioritise helping franchisees find the best local options to keep the cost of opening a studio at the more affordable scale while also ensuring the studio brings the most value to the local community.

More than just a business plan, we highly encourage the owner to understand that the best franchisees are those who surround themselves with passionate, fitness-oriented, member-centric teams.

What is OTF’s x-factor in competing on the global stage with other boutique concepts?

JD: Orangetheory appeals to a broad audience, being one of the most accessible options for anyone, regardless of where they are in their fitness journey.

We use technology so that our members can track their results, including second-by-second heart rate readings. This calculated precision sets Orangetheory apart, ensuring members receive personalised, scientifically backed guidance to push themselves effectively–and safely–during workouts.

What consumer trends are you most excited about heading into 2024?

JD: While it’s not exactly new, we’re excited to see strength training growing in popularity.  Particularly within the studio market, we have confidence this will continue to rise, and marking our commitment, we’ve recently launched our Strength 50 programming, which is proving to be a huge hit.

We also think longevity is going to become a huge motivator. Not everyone wants to be an elite athlete, but everyone wants to live a happy and healthy life for as long as possible – and exercise is a key part of that.

Being able to scientifically track results and use our technology to optimise personal health means Orangetheory is in prime position to capitalise and continue its growth in 2024.

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