Home » Orangetheory » The History of Orangetheory Fitness; Most Popular Gym

The History of Orangetheory Fitness; Most Popular Gym

Orangetheory was founded and built on the dream and idea of Ellen Latham, who is a fitness psychologist. Other co-founders are Jerome Kern and David Long, who supported and saw Ellen’s dream of the now ‘Orangetheory’ become a reality.

Orangetheory is now one of the largest fitness gym chains in and out of the US, celebrated in over 25 nations and with a membership of more than 1 million people. The ease of getting to one’s goals, the community, and the ability to access the gym in most parts of the US and internationally are just a few reasons behind the gym’s success. 

And there is more, so shall we get down to the juicy bits?

Ellen Latham, the Woman Behind Who Orangetheory is Built!

Primarily, Ellen Latham came from a family that valued fitness, with a father who was a fitness coach when she was a young kid. She grew to have a passion for fitness, later pursuing a physical education and physiology degree.

With passion, skills, education, and commitment, Latham landed a high-end job in Florida as a fitness trainer. Of course, it wasn’t hard for her to make it to the top with her talent, and she was later the director of the company.

However, her career was short-lived, and she lost her job when she least expected it. However, she still had to manage her bills, and being a single mother then pushed her to look for an alternative. And rather than sulk at the loss of a job, she had an ‘upward momentum shift.’ She says that this is something she learned from her father, which meant turning the situation in one’s favor, regardless of the outlook.

Consequently, the Orangetheory icon was able to start a fitness program in her own house. The gym targeted EPOC, that is, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, often referred to as the after-burn. The oxygen is required to bring the body back to its basal metabolic rate, facilitating extra calorie burning. 

Over time, people loved the impact of the exercises with Ellen, and it wasn’t long before the house was too small for all the members. For this reason, she had to look for extra space, which meant renting a gym. 

Her friends Kern and Long saw the potential in Ellen’s theory and exercises and brought up the aspect of franchising the gym. With franchises run by different management but under the same concept, Ellen would help more people while still expanding her fitness business.

And that is how Orangetheory Fitness came to be!                                                                                   

The Concept of Orangetheory Fitness 

Orangetheory shouts Orange from the vibrant color to the exercise heart rate zone that is celebrated the most.

The fitness company came to be in 2010, which gives it over a decade of resilience and success in the market. It is primarily cardio training, with treadmill and rowing exercises taking the more significant portion of the class.

Its most significant test was Covid 19, which caused the lockdown of all corporate places in 2020. However, it could still pay and retain its staff and later give the world an outstanding comeback. And with the comeback came a new type of Orangetheory classes that is entirely based on strength training. 

As a whole, Orangetheory is based on the orange concept, which basically refers to the point at which one starts building up EPOC. At this point, the heart rate is usually 84%. 

Technically, Orangetheory operates consecutively under five heart rate zones: grey, blue, green, Orange, and red. Each heart rate zone represents a range of heart rate percentages.

The orange zone is between 84% to 91%, while the red zone lies between heart rates of 92% and above. 

When one gets to the orange zone, one starts accumulating splat points for each minute spent in or above the orange zone. This means that the splat points are accumulated in only the orange and red zones. 

EPOC is more efficient when one accumulates 12 splat points and spends at least 12 minutes of their 60-minute OTF time between the orange and red heart rate zones. Surprisingly, the splat points bring out the concept of Orangetheory and EPOC.

Orangetheory Classes

Orangetheory classes are preplanned by month. Typically, there are at least 92 different exercise combinations, which ensure that all the classes are unique. The amazing bit is that these combinations are used by the different OTF studios, which means that the workouts are the same regardless of the studio and coach.
Ellen ensured that the design of the classes was set by different professional fitness coaches, facilitating the best classes possible for the treadmill, rower, and floor training.

Usually, Orangetheory has three stations of exercises in which there are different groups of people. There is a group on the treadmill, another on the rowing machines, and in 3G classes, another group at the floor training. In 2G groups, one group is usually on the treadmill while the other is between the floor and rowing machines.

2G and 3G classes? Orangetheory has two types of classes; 2G and 3G. In 2G, there are two groups of people, while there are three groups in 3G.

Orange 60 and Lift 45

Orangetheory started off with 60-minute classes, known as Orange 60. In Orange 60, members in a class take a treadmill, rowing, and floor training sessions. The exact amount of time spent at each station varies depending on the class.

Recently, Orangetheory added a new class to Orange 60, which is referred to as Lift 45. In Lift 45, members concentrate on strength training, hence only on floor training exercises. It is divided into upper-body, lower-body, and full-body classes, suiting the different resistance training needs of the members.

Orangetheory and Heart Rate Monitors

When Ellen Latham started Orangetheory, the concept was supposed to suit different types of people. Uniquely, even though people work out in groups, the output competition is individual. Every person undergoes a test to determine their heart rate zones, which are different for each person.

Therefore, the young, middle-aged, and seniors can all comfortably fit into the class, each regardless of their fitness zones. Lately, the management is working harder to incorporate the older generation since only more vibrant and younger individuals tend to try out the workouts.

The best way to ensure that the workout and zones are personalized is to exercise with heart rate monitors. Orangetheory has customized brand heart rate monitors, which translate the heart rate into zones that are displayed in class.

However, Orangetheory screens are only compatible with Orangetheory heart rate monitors and, lately, the Apple Watch. Therefore, without an Apple Watch, one has to purchase the OTF heart rate monitors for a complete experience.


Three people majorly own Orangetheory; Ellen Latham, David Long, and Jerome Kern. They are the people who initiated the concept and set the ground for the design of the workouts that have seen OTF’s success today. 

However, the gym is franchised; hence each studio or set of studios is owned and managed differently. Despite this difference, the equipment, classes, and exercises are the same, not to mention the experience.

Written by

Jennifer Lewis

Leave a Comment