Bengaluru: In the dynamic realm of fitness, where passion meets purpose, few individuals stand out as catalysts of transformative change. Drishti Chhabria, the visionary Founder & Chief Experience Officer of Orangetheory Fitness, is undeniably one such trailblazer. With an unwavering commitment to redefining the fitness landscape, Drishti has seamlessly woven innovation, science, and a deep understanding of human motivation into the fabric of Orangetheory’s ethos.
In this exclusive interview for The Balcony Stories, I delve into the extraordinary journey of Drishti Chhabria, a maven at the intersection of fitness and experience design. From the inception of Orangetheory Fitness to its meteoric rise as a global phenomenon, Drishti’s narrative unfolds as a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit, leadership prowess, and an unbridled passion for empowering individuals on their wellness journey.
Join me as I explore the inspirations, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped Drishti’s vision for Orangetheory Fitness, revolutionizing how we perceive and engage with our own well-being. This is a conversation with a visionary leader who has not only built a fitness empire but has also redefined the very essence of what it means to experience fitness in the 21st century.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting your fitness center?
For many years, I’ve always been passionate about fitness and health and enjoyed trying all sorts of new workouts and fitness concepts. Through my 20s, I also struggled with several health issues for which I tried all sorts of workouts to help me, and I realized that even though I enjoyed everything, Orangetheory was the only workout that was unique and made me feel like my best. It was the only workout that I could stick to consistently without getting bored and the only workout that motivated me like no other. While I visited India growing up, I also realized that there was a huge gap in the Indian fitness market. In a country full of traditional big box gyms and regular format fitness clubs, there is a lack of boutique fitness studios or any organized group classes. I was inspired to bring a unique group fitness class and boutique fitness studio to India that not only brings a new way to work out to India but revolutionizes the way Indians workout and live a healthier, vibrant life.
What sets your fitness center apart from others in the industry?
Unlike any other fitness center in the industry, Orangetheory Fitness strives to train you from the inside out and develop a healthy lifestyle overall rather than chasing aesthetics and physical changes only. Emotional and mental benefits are often associated with our workouts as our workouts help improve heart health, boost mood and confidence, help sleep better, boost metabolism and help your quality of life. Our workouts are completely backed by science, proven to provide real results and tracked by our proprietary technology which allows you to track your progress. Our dual certified coaches also guide you throughout the class to ensure proper form and progress.
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How do you create a welcoming and motivating environment for your clients?
All around the world, Orangetheory Fitness is known for its community and inclusive atmosphere. From the moment someone walks in, they become part of our family and
We constantly get to know all our members and their fitness goals to build personal relationships and keep them motivated and assist them better. Not only do we hold specialty workouts and events within our studio to motivate clients to be consistent, but we also host community events for our members to get to know each other and their coaches to feel more comfortable. Beyond our workouts, building a strong community is very important to us as it helps motivate members to feel a sense of belonging and more motivated to meet like-minded individuals.
Could you share some of the most popular programs or classes offered at your center?
Our classic workout, known as the Orange 60, is a 60-minute group workout that consists of both strength and cardio. Members alternate between the treadmill, water rower and the weight floor through intervals of work and rest to increase calorie burn and achieve their “afterburn” while training through the 5 heart rate zones. Another popular class at Orangetheory is our Strength 50 class which includes a 50-minute workout that incorporates all forms of strength, resistance and body weight training on the floor without any cardio.
What’s your philosophy on achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through fitness?
My philosophy is simple – fitness is not about how you look, but about how you feel. What is important is that you focus on your health and internal fitness by staying consistent, which automatically will give you the external results you are looking for. Often, people give up on their fitness routine and goals because they don’t achieve their dream body or physical aesthetics, but fitness is about achieving progress internally and improving health conditions. I believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle in which you incorporate daily exercise and balance the bad days with the good is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing yourself from developing any health ailments or conditions. In general, someone who workouts everyday but may not look physically fit but have great health benefits from their fitness routine which is what is most important to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
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How do you adapt to changing fitness trends and customer needs?
Orangetheory is ever evolving to adapt to changing fitness trends and customer needs by adding new types of innovative classes and formats to fit our members’ needs. In general, all our classes are completely customizable as per customer needs because we provide options for every exercise on the weight floor, along with options for different types of athletes, power-walkers, joggers, and runners. Every day evolves as per customer needs as we focus on 3 different pillars of fitness, which include strength, endurance, and power. While we run our traditional Orange 60 classes to include both strength and cardio as per our core values, we recently introduced a Strength 50 class as strength training is trending in the industry and gaining a lot of popularity. At the same time, our customers who wanted to build more strength after shredding with the Orange 60 classes got catered to with these Strength 50 classes. In the future, we are also innovating with a new Tread 50 class that will allow our customers to navigate through a treadmill only class for 50 minutes to prepare for marathons or improve their cardiovascular health or focus more on a high calorie burn. As a brand, we hold high importance on innovation and constantly evolve our technology to be able to improve our customer experience and quantify every effort during a workout. We also evolve our workout programs every month and innovate to add new types of exercise routines after testing and monitoring what our customers true needs are.
Can you describe any success stories or transformations that have resulted from your programs?
There have been many members with tons of transformations and success stories that have resulted from Orangetheory workouts. Most often, our members have seen an increase in endurance & stamina, strength, and a complete change in their body composition. A lot of members share that they’ve seen an increase in energy levels, ability to sleep better and most importantly, they have never committed to a program as consistently as they have to the Orangetheory programs. Most often enough, this is the first program that clients have been able to commit and follow through on without quitting.
Recently, one of our members lost 10 kgs of weight in a span of 3 months while changing his body composition by a reduction of 10% of body fat. Another guy lost 4 kgs of body weight, but at the same time lost 6.8% body fat and increased his muscle mass by 2 kgs in only 8 weeks. Another young 27 year old girl lost about 5 kgs of bodyweight and 5% of body fat within 2 months. Further, we’ve seen some members have massive improvement in their health conditions. A couple that started their journey together got all their cholesterol, lipid profile and arthritis in control as the husband recovered from a bad phase of massive weight gain and the woman recovered from a back surgery.
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What safety measures and protocols have you implemented, especially in light of recent health concerns?
Our studios always take precautionary measures to ensure safety and cleanliness. We have a full-time housekeeping team that sanitizes and disinfects all the fitness equipment between every workout class that we have running through the day as well as all the common areas.
How do you stay engaged with your community and promote fitness beyond the gym?
Our community is the heart of Orangetheory Fitness, and we love to engage with our community beyond our fitness studio. We believe that it is very important for our members to build connections with each other to find like-minded individuals and make new friendships with each other. Not only does it help the members of our community stay motivated, but it keeps our members coming back to foster a sense of belonging, rather than competition. Our community sets our brand apart from other competitors who only focus on workouts in the gym. The community aspect builds accountability between our members and pushes people to stay committed towards their goals. To create more engagement, we host fitness events within the studios for specific cultural festivals as well as special workout events in different times of the year such as Glowli, a glow themed workout for Holi, Hell Week, a week of “hell-ish” workouts during Halloween, 12 Days of Fitness during Christmas, and lots more. In the studio, not only do we celebrate member’s birthdays and anniversaries, but we care about our community’s progress in fitness by celebrating member milestones and personal record achievements. Outside of the studio, we host many “Member Mingles” to allow our members to meet each other as well as their fitness coaches, we celebrate member’s class milestones and personal record achievements. Further, many of our members get together to run together outdoors and participate in marathons or other fitness events in the local community to push each other and stay motivated.
It’s more than just a workout for us, it is a community where we focus on building relationships, we celebrate wins, we celebrate progress, and we bring people together. We not only dress up for festivals, meet up for happy hours, and high-five after class, but also find ways to give back to our local community and motivate our members towards a good cause, outside of their own fitness goals.
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What advice do you have for someone considering a career in the fitness industry or starting their own fitness center?
My advice would be to follow your passion and believe in your own brand, no matter what competition is out there, and no matter what experience you may have. Coming from a business background at a young age, it was unconventional for me to enter the fitness industry but my passion for fitness and transforming lives is what drove me to my success today. If you are passionate about impacting people’s health and working every day to change lives, then you are on the right path to enter the industry. There may be many obstacles on the way, but what is most important is to stick to your original vision, not waiver your beliefs and not get influenced by what others say or do.
On top of passion, my advice would be to maintain integrity and innovation to anybody looking to build a career in the industry. Without staying true to yourself, you wouldn’t be able to build a community or build opportunities for others. In order to be successful and achieve your goals, it is so important to believe in your passion, hold yourself accountable and hold a high level of integrity towards yourself and towards others.