Orangetheory Fitness Founder On How To Live A Long And Vibrant Life

When Ellen Latham created a metabolic workout to help her clients achieve their goals, she knew from her exercise physiology training and decades of teaching experience that it would work. What she didn’t expect was that the program would become an international fitness sensation.

Her Orangetheory workout, which is based on the physiological theory of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), is a heart rate-monitored training designed to stimulate metabolism and increase energy, has become one of the most popular one-hour workouts. Here, she discusses the story behind the brand and how making fitness a priority early on can set you up for an energetic, joyful experience in your work and life.

Ellen Latham, Co-Founder of Orangetheory FitnessIan Jacob Photography for Orangetheory Fitness

Jess Cording: What was the inspiration behind the Orangetheory workout?

Ellen Latham: My Pilates clients complained that they weren’t seeing fat-burning results throughout their body the way they saw results in their core muscles. I decided I would create and add a class that was what I considered the ultimate fat-burning workout for the human body. I said, “I’m going to use all I know about afterburn and wattage power and do the things you need to do if you have one hour, to activate the metabolism. It’s science-backed and it’s technology-inspired, as we use a heart rate monitoring system so everyone can watch their heart response in real time. The original name when it opened in 2008 was The Ultimate Workout.

I’ve been in the industry for 43 years—I’ve taught everything. I knew on paper that this should work, but when I saw the transformations in my members so rapidly, I was, like, “WOW.” I was approached by one of my members and her husband about franchising. In 2010 we decided to rebrand as the Orangetheory. We opened our first studio in Fort Lauderdale, and now we have 1100 studios open in over 20 countries. Our purpose is creating a longer, more vibrant life—not to be the next fad in fitness. We’re very clear of what we’re there for. We want to better the human body.