See a need and fill it

It’s always gratifying to see a South Florida company make it big. Add Orangetheory Fitness to the ever-growing list. The Boca Raton-based chain of fitness studios has hit 1,300 locations with classes taught in eight languages around the globe.

Our “CEO Connect” with Orangetheory’s creator and co-founder, Ellen Latham, was so good that we put it on the cover of this month’s edition. The event drew an enthusiastic, full-house crowd to the Boca Raton Innovation Center. The way the audience reacted, it’s clear that Latham is a rock star among female business owners in South Florida. I have several takeaways on what makes her successful.

First, Latham is incredibly passionate about the field of fitness. She was inspired by her father and started in the field in her 20s. Even in her 60s, she says, “I’ve never missed a fitness convention. I attended webinars, seminars, certifications until it’s exhausting.” Latham is always looking at what’s new and next. That’s a great lesson for business people in general given the rapid rate of change.

She has a strong focus on her customers. The workout concept behind Orangetheory began after Latham was fired. As a single mother, she had to unexpectedly make her own way. She turned to teaching Pilates classes and heard from her students that people were frustrated getting a good cardiovascular workout to complement Pilates, which is great for toning and stretching. She saw a need and worked to fill it. She put her background to good work, creating a scientific-based workout designed to get heart rates into 84 percent of capacity for 12 minutes during hourlong workouts. When your heart rate hits that level, it’s in the orange part of the scale, which is how Orangetheory got its name. Latham says science shows that if you hit the orange zone that you will have physiological benefit, such as a higher metabolic rate, that extends long after the class is over.

Latham also addressed the level of discomfort some people feel when working out. She noted how some people hang out in the back of traditional group workouts or are frustrated at boot camps when the message seems to be you are never doing enough. Latham created a walker category, a jogger category and a runner category, so no one would feel psychological pressure. She hates the word “modifications,” so Orangetheory calls them options. Recently, Latham says she taught a class where a 69-year-old woman with a pacemaker was next to a Miami Dolphins player.

Thanks, Ellen, for being such a big inspiration.

There was big news shortly after our September issue was ready to print. Professional Bank announced it would merge with Marquis Bank. If shareholders and regulators approve, the combined institution will be known as Professional Bank and have approximately $1.6 billion in assets, making it the 12th largest community bank in Florida and the fourth largest in South Florida. Congratulations to Professional Bank Chairman and CEO Daniel Sheehan and Marquis Bank Chairman and CEO Javier J. Holtz.

Finally, we will be celebrating SFBW’s fifth anniversary with a special issue in December. We’ll feature past honorees of our Apogee Awards and the subjects of our cover stories, “CEO Connect” and “Women of Influence” series. If you have an update about what happened to you after being featured in SFBW, please drop me an email at Thanks to our readers and advertisers for your support.

Kevin Gale
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