Orangetheory Fitness: Offering members a more vibrant life

Stretching the Point

Coach Suzanne Culotta (center) leads a half-cardio/half-strength training class, where members move from treadmill to bike to strider to rowers and different modalities in the weight room to reach their Orange Zone heart rate. Caroline Davis, manager, and Dexter Moore, head coach, observe. (Photo by Cathy Welch)

Ellen Latham’s lifelong passion for fitness led her to create Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) in 2010, with partners David Long, Jerome Kern and David Hardy. OTF believes in changing the world one heartbeat at a time.

OTF offers a science-based, full-body workout employing technology to measure performance to track goal achievement. In a 60-minute class, led by certified coaches, members target at least 12 minutes in the Orange Zone to raise their heart rate and charge their metabolism. The result is an increase in calorie burn post-workout, backed by the science of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. In color theory, orange is the color that invokes energy, youthfulness, vitality and health.

OTF coaches motivate members, ensure their safety and remind them when to take a break. Each workout employs cardiovascular exercise on a treadmill, as well as rowing and strength training.

Members root for each other, as they become better versions of themselves. Their driving goal is to help people live longer, resulting in more vibrant lives.

More than one million members work out in 1,100-plus studios worldwide, covering 49 states and 22 countries, including Canada, the UK, Australia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Japan, Israel, Peru and Chile.

Caroline Davis, Newport News manager since 2016, joined OTF in Richmond after her first workout. “It’s the coaching aspect, the accountability, the professional in the room guiding you through the workout,” she says of what she loves about the gym.

Dexter Moore is Newport News’ head coach, and has been certified by the American Council on Exercise in personal training for more than 15 years. “OTF offered that heart rate-based training I was interested in,” he says.

OTF coaches help members with exercise modification, inspire them to beat plateaus and help them stick to their goals. Participants work at their own pace, while staying challenged. Group training sessions leverage the Group Dynamic Theory. The energy and mood of a group can magnify itself to greater heights than that of a lone individual. Members have fun together.

Moore enjoys the opportunity to work with so many people simultaneously. “In personal training, you’re able to work with someone closely,” he says. “Here you spread it to many people at once.”

OTF offers eight one-hour classes on weekdays and four on weekends. Classes are half cardio and half strength training, focusing on different facets of fitness: endurance, power or strength. Speed, treadmill, weights and other modalities vary.

Every class is the same all day and each day is different. “People choose when they want,” Moore says. “We have an app for scheduling.”

“You work so hard that over the next 36 hours, your body is catching up to the oxygen debt that you caused during your workout,” Moore says. “That takes energy for the next 36 hours, which helps members burn calories even when they’re not working out.”

“We welcome all fitness levels, from someone who’s never worked out to an elite athlete,” Davis says. “We believe everyone should be a part of Orangetheory.”

As part of their More Life slogan, OTF brings a social piece to their program. “We go on runs together, and do no-shower-happy-hours where we go grab a drink together after working out,” Davis says.

OTF recognizes members who take their first class and members who hit their 100, 500-plus workout goal. They offer membership options from four classes to unlimited sessions per month. The first class is free.

“From the moment I walked into Orangetheory, I felt totally at ease and comfortable,” says Wendy Drucker, OTF member. “It is amazing how the workout is personal, yet you are encouraged and inspired by the group at the same time.”

“My children and I own this business together,” says Jim Hamer, franchise owner. “We love to hear stories of our customers’ transformations and get to work with staff members who genuinely care for our customers and want them to succeed and improve their lives.”

Often people walk in, focusing on their need to lose weight or just get back to working out. “We let them know we’re here to guide them,” Davis says. “It’s okay to not know exactly what to do, but if you commit to this for 30 days, where could you be 30 days from now?”

OTF’s periodic eight-week Transformation Challenge encourages members to concentrate on lowering their body fat percentage. Two first-place winners win $500.

Over the past several years, OTF raised more than $5 million for ALS research and plan to raise $1 million for the American Heart Association this year.

“We make fitness fun,” Davis says. “Everyone here is working out to live a longer, more vibrant life.”

“This place changes people’s mindsets on fitness,” Moore says. “It puts more of a performance and overall health outlook on it rather than focusing on a number on a scale.”

About Cathy Welch 73 Articles
Cathy Welch is a Hampton Roads-based writer, photographer and book editor. She says her life is an eclectic mix of career and FAMILY. She earned our Bachelors degree in business administration at Christopher Newport University, minoring in Spanish. Her career has been full- and part-time as an administrator, an engineering assistant, a bookseller, a merchandiser, a naval photography layout assistant, an office manager, a grant writer and a human resource manager, all giving her experiences that feed her writing. She fosters pups and does what she can to bless those who are in need, whether human or canine. She can be reached at 757-870-0768 or at

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