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interview DAVID LONG


US gym franchise Orangetheory Fitness combines group exercise with high-intensity interval training to deliver personal training-type results at a quarter of the price – and it’s not only Stateside that this ‘perfect workout’ is winning fans. The co-founder and CEO talks to Rhianon Howells about his vision for a small studio brand with big horizons


W


hen David Long and Jerome Kern signed up for the Ultimate Workout class at Ellen Latham’s


group exercise studio in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, three years ago – just round the corner from the franchise development company they co-owned – they weren’t merely looking to break a sweat. “We’d been searching all over the


country for different fi tness concepts to develop when we happened to cross paths with Ellen,” explains Long. “She’d started working on the Ultimate Workout concept a few years previously and we really believed this was a workout that could give people great results. So we started taking the class and building our relationship with Ellen. “With our business development experience, and her fi tness and programming background, we felt we could build a small studio model that would provide a great product for consumers.” Fast-forward three years and, despite charging signifi cantly higher rates than many traditional health clubs, the Orangetheory Fitness gym franchise – based on Latham’s Ultimate Workout – has 19 sites across the US with 16 more in


Clubs are equipped with FreeMotion treadmills and WaterRowers


David Long: CEO Ellen Latham: CFO


the pipeline, is on the verge of a Canadian rollout and is attracting interest from South America, Australia and the UK. So what’s the secret of the brand’s success? And how does a premium product fl ourish in these budget-conscious times?


GETTING RESULTS Long has always been passionate about fi tness. After graduating from Florida University with a degree in physical therapy and an MBA, he started his career working in sales and operations for traditional health clubs. He then moved into management roles, fi rst


Jerome Kern: president


with health and nutrition retailer GNC, and later with hugely successful budget spa chain Massage Envy. It was with the latter, as vice president of operations, that he cut his franchise teeth, helping to take the concept from 20 to around 550 locations in just four years. In 2007, he and Kern – a regional


developer for Massage Envy – decided to strike out on their own, setting up their own company, the Ascente Group, to identify and develop new franchise concepts. While continuing to work with Massage Envy on a consultancy basis, they soon found the opportunity


Workouts offer personal attention at a fraction of the cost of PT


30 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


july 2012 © cybertrek 2012


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