In this episode of the Nicole Petitto Podcast, Nicole spoke with her friend and long-time industry colleague, Rachel Vaziralli, the Senior Manager of Fitness Design at Orangetheory Fitness. They touch upon the ways in which Orangetheory has seamlessly integrated their science-backed programming and elevated coaching while continuing to maintain a highly engaged community within their digital fitness experiences. Listen to how they are creating that unique blend and balance between their in-person and digital fitness content.

Podcast Highlights

2:35 – Rachel’s journey in Fitness: “I didn’t actually start out in fitness. I started out, however, always being a lover of movement. I was a dancer all throughout my life. And then in 99, I moved to New York to go to NYU. I was a dance major at NYU. So again, I always had a passion and a love. Movement, but it was more on the arts and performance side, not on the fitness side, but through that, I ended up kind of falling into fitness as actually many performers do, because there is such a connection between dance and movement and fitness.”

6:50 – Orangetheory’s digital evolution: “There’s been a huge evolution over the past year on the digital side for what Orangetheory is offering and of course, now all the conversations that are being had in regards to what it’s going to look like in the future. I think they pivoted very quickly to help provide ongoing programming for a lot of studios that were shut down, members that weren’t comfortable coming into the studios, and things of that nature.”

10:30 – Orangetheory live: “In Orangetheory live, you are able to, if you choose, have yourself be seen on camera and also see the other members that are taking that class. Now, if you choose not to be seen, you know, that’s definitely an option that we have available to you. You can choose and select how you want that view. Maybe you want just the coach to see you, but not the other members, et cetera. But this way you can have that interactive experience. And then you also have, of course, the benefit of a coach actually coaching you live. They can see you, they can make corrections. There’s a chatbox feature where you can talk to the coach and say “Hey, I’ve got an injury. Can you look out for this?” So it is more closely tailored to what you’d experienced in the studio.”

12:30 – Working out with little equipment: “Whether it’s at home or live, the equipment is minimal because we want as many people to be able to participate as possible, despite not necessarily having a treadmill or a rower.”

16:50 – How Orangetheory manages an engaged digital community: “I think we saw a lot of different studios doing a lot of different things to keep that sense of community. One of the core things being launching Orangetheory Live. So they continue to have that community.”

22:00 – Innovation at Orangetheory: “Innovation has always been at the core of Orangetheory Fitness from the start. So while the digital community for members to experience the workouts has been our goal and we’ve been able to accomplish that goal through the global pandemic, It’s still very much in an evolution phase and, figuring out how we’re gonna continue to offer it in the best way.”

22:40 – Bricks and Clicks: “The phrase we’ve been using is “Bricks and clicks.” So we want them to have that experience of our brick and mortar come into the studio, but we also want them to be able to get into an Orangetheory at the click of a button and experience it digitally.”

23:30 – Training live vs training digitally: “We spend a lot of time going over differences in coaching skills, as far as how do you connect with someone virtually because, in the studio we talk about giving high fives, we talk about going up to someone and maybe, you know, making a correction with form. For example, they’re slumped over, you might put your hand on the center of their back and encourage them to squeeze their shoulder blades together, but you can’t do those physical touchpoints or those high five moments in a digital space. So we go over a lot of ways to enhance your verbal coaching skills.”

26:00 – Orangetheory coaches: “We want to make sure that they have that baseline education. They have to be CPR and AED certified. Then they go through our OT fit certificate program, which is a week-long immersive training experience that is designed to teach them how to deliver this Orangetheory class. So I think at this point it would just be very difficult to take someone from outside of the brand and make sure that they have all those expectations met. And then additionally go through our Orangetheory Live training process. Not to say that it’s not possible for the future, but we want to make sure that the coaches that are on live have the same knowledge and expertise as our coaches that are in studio.”