As the former president and director of operations for Ellipse Fitness, it’s no secret that I like to exercise. And, as you can probably guess, I’m a bit of a workout snob.

I’m the first person to say that the best workout is the one you’ll stick with, and Orangetheory Fitness works for me. It’s where I currently hold my only gym membership. I appreciate the clean environment, very well thought out workouts that always encompass strength and cardio, and professionally trained coaches.

Known for its high intensity group interval training classes led by a coach, Orangetheory’s 60-minute workout pairs cardiovascular and strength training using treadmills, rowing machines, TRX suspension training and free weights. The goal of the workout is to get people into what’s known as the “orange zone” – 84-91-percent of their maximum heart rate for 12 minutes.

"In short, Orangetheory provides personal training in a group environment," Kevin Scharnek, area developer for Orangetheory Fitness, once was quoted to say. "The workouts are always different, always engaging and always challenging for athletes of all levels.”

Keep reading though, this isn’t really about Orangetheory.

I recently had the opportunity to work out with Scharnek at the franchise’s Appleton location, which opened at the end of 2018 in the Fox River Mall.

I felt like I was working out with a brave, entrepreneurial anomaly and I desperately wanted to see what the difference was between him, and so many I work with that “say” they have what it takes to be an Area Developer, but…in the end disappear and ghost me.

Check these stats – Scharnek became an area developer for Wisconsin in 2014 when there were only about 150 clubs in a handful of states. In 2019, the company reached $1 billion in sales with more than 1,100 domestic studios open in the US as well as international studios open in 22 countries, with more than 1,600 franchise licenses awarded – including 11 clubs in Wisconsin.

Scharnek is what’s known as an area developer – a person or entity that a franchise contracts with to provide services to franchisees in a specified area, in his case Wisconsin. He paid the franchise company an initial fee for the rights to develop the territory. He retains some of the initial franchise fees and royalty fees paid by other individual franchisees in his territory, and of course, pays less on his own clubs, too. Sub-franchisors can own and operate the fitness studios
which leaves Scharnek free to focus on other areas of developing he business.

What began in 2010 as one studio in Boca Raton, FL, Orangetheory Fitness has become one of the world's top fitness franchises. And while we’ll never know what the next great franchise idea will be – whether in fitness, food, home services, whatever – doing the research and having courage to pull the trigger, like Scharnek, to see what could happen, is pretty remarkable.

He didn’t let fear hold him back. To paraphrase late author Joseph Campbell, the cave you fear to enter may just hold the treasure you seek.

There are SO many opportunities for those who are willing to take on a bigger risk, for a greater reward – but they’re in brands that AREN’T household names yet. If you’d like to learn more and think you could take the plunge, please reach out.


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