By Chris Olsen
At 40 years old, Ellen Latham was well established in her career managing health spas. She was good at her job, she’d been with the same company for a long time, and she had no plans to make changes anytime soon. And then life threw her a curveball—Ellen was unexpectedly fired. It was her lowest low. She hadn’t considered that possibility, so she had no idea what she’d do next. But as a single mom with a 9-year-old son, she knew she had to figure it out.
With no time to wallow, Ellen recalled a piece of advice her father—a physical education teacher and football coach—had given her many times before. He taught her “momentum shifting up,” which was to focus on what she had, rather than what she didn’t have. So Ellen turned her misfortune on its ear, focusing on the fact that she was certified to teach Pilates. She began hosting classes in a spare room in her home.
After a few months, Ellen’s Pilates classes had become so popular that she outgrew her makeshift studio. She decided to look for a commercial space. She also listened to clients who were telling her that while they loved how Pilates improved their flexibility, balance and muscle tone, they wanted their workout to include a metabolic component as well. Once again, Ellen focused on what she had, putting her formal education in physical education and physiology to good use to solve a problem. She set out to create a group metabolic workout program that people at all fitness levels could participate in and benefit from.
What she came up with morphed into what’s known today as the Orangetheory Workout. The training focuses on five heart rate zones and combines cardio and weights, which Ellen says provides the best metabolic workout you can get. High-energy instructors lead the workout and monitor participants’ heart rates, to help them acclimate to their conditioning levels. Orangetheory also utilizes equipment to help users achieve the power they’d get in a CrossFit class, but in a nonimpact way.
Today, Orangetheory Fitness is an international franchise with more than a thousand studios and more than a million members. In 2017, Ellen’s company earned the No. 1 spot as the fastest-growing women-owned or -led business from the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and American Express.
While she never imagined that getting fired from her job would result in one of the fastest-growing businesses in the United States, what motivates Ellen most is seeing firsthand how physical fitness improves overall well-being. She believes she’s found her true purpose in life—using her gifts to empower others to be the best version of themselves. “Knowing that I’ve had a positive effect on so many individuals is beyond anything I could ever desire to do in this world.”
To learn more about Ellen’s business, visit OrangetheoryFitness.com.
Photo credit: Ian Jacob Photography for Orangetheory Fitness
About the Author
Chris Olsen is a broadcast media veteran turned communications consultant, educator and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” The founder of Publish Her and Publish Her Story, Chris has helped thousands of women tell their stories and publish their books.
About Publish Her
Publish Her is a female-founded and focused publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all. Publish Her specializes in print-on-demand books, workbooks, journals, magazines and more.