How their Unique Brand Helped Orangetheory Fitness Break into an Already Saturated Market

Personal health and fitness has always been a huge part of my life. That being said, I’m sure many of you agree that going to the gym to run on a treadmill and lift weights can get boring. Right? That’s why I always like to try new “cool” fitness trends to mix things up and keep my workouts exciting. This past year, however, my gym attendance fell drastically. So, as I woke up the other day motivated to get back into my routine, I decided to sign up for my first Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) class – it is the new craze after all.

Many of my friends have tried and recommend it, and my whole office is talking about how intense the workout is and how many calories they burned because of it (shoutout to Tash!). Naturally, I began to wonder why so many people rave and swear by this workout.

What did OTF do differently to succeed in a market so saturated by other gyms? The answer – which I came to understand from in-depth reading about the gym’s history and workout classes – is that they’ve successfully built a unique brand.

According to the co-founder and CEO of OTF, Dave Long, the gym’s success comes from how it stimulates users on three main levels: intellectual, physical, and emotional. The experience is designed to engage brains, feelings, and bodies. While most fitness gyms accomplish only two of these three – typically emotional and physical – OTF engages you intellectually too. How, you might ask?

During the workout, each person is given a personal heart rate monitor. That way, OTF members can constantly see their performance levels: heart rate, caloric burn rate, and “splat points.” One splat point is equal to one minute spent in the orange zone and one minute in the red zone, a system unique to the brand. The system works by rating the percentage of heart rate used. For example, when you’re in the orange zone, or the “Orange Effect,” you’re using 84-91% of your heart rate, and when you’ve reached the red zone, or “All Out Effort!” you’re using 91-100% of your heart rate. The goal is to be in one of these zones in order to earn at least 12 splat points per workout to help you reach optimal caloric burn.

This system gamifies the workout – a key differentiator for the brand – and gives them a unique edge in the marketplace. The wearable heart rate sensors generate data, allowing the user to measure their workout levels and compete with themselves each time. According to Dave School, who tried and reviewed the workout, “It feels like you’re playing a game with your own body.” Users can track their progress through a central hub app: the OTF mobile app logs their data, provides health tips, and sends community alerts for local events and runs.

The gym also introduces a convenience factor – all studios operate with the same machines and schedule, so members can stick to their usual workout routines regardless of location. This consistency allows for unanimity and a feeling of being part of a larger exclusive group. Once you’re a member, you know OTF’s program, and you can discuss it with any other person who’s tried it.

The gamification of OTF’s workout is the brand’s identifier – it’s the key differentiator that elevated the brand and allowed it to break into an already saturated market. As a PR professional, I always stress the importance of identifying what makes your brand unique. OTF found a way to distinguish themselves from the rest. Finding your differentiators and being able to express them is the key to a successful brand.

Wish me luck at my first class. I’m gonna need it!

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