Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
An entrepreneur herself, Allegro Group Founder and CEO Kara Jorvig is always excited to talk to fellow business leaders and learn more about what started their dreams and what keeps them going. This month, she blends her love for Orangetheory Fitness with her love for business by sitting down with Archit Shah who recently brought Orangetheory to the local FM area.
Kara Jorvig: I’m excited to learn more about your background in business and what inspired you to get into owning Orangetheory studios in North Dakota. What inspired you to end up where you are today?
Archit Shah: I was consulting in Tampa. I live in Orlando. My brother-in-law was going to school in Tampa for law school. I was staying with him a couple nights and he says, “You know what? Why don’t we go for a workout?” And I say, “Yeah, I’m not so much into working out.” And I said, “Well, if we have to go for a workout, we have to go early in the morning because I don’t like working out and you don’t like getting up early so we’ll make it painful for both of us.”
So we went to this new concept in St. Petersburg, Florida, and it was called Orangetheory Fitness. We walked in at 6 in the morning. The way Orangetheory works is, we’re all structured classes. You have to book a class in advance. We actually called a couple days in advance, booked a class, showed up a couple minutes early and got a tour around so we sort of understood how the process works. As we were sitting there, there were members coming in to get ready for class, and there were more members than there were stations. And I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “These people are coming in just to see if they can get into a class potentially.” And I’m like, “At 6 in the morning?”
We go work out and, like most out of shape guys, we felt it the next day. But we went back two days later and this time, we went back at 7 in the morning and the same thing happened. There were people waiting there. And I said, “There’s got to be something here.” The more that I did the workouts, the more that I looked around, I was like, “You know what? This workout actually is for me.” I don’t like to think when I go to the gym. Like most people when they go to the gym, they go, “I’m going to go run on the treadmill,” or “I’m going to go lift weights,” but how much? How often? Where do you go?
Archit Shah started his first business at age 6 – a penny flier route!
The good thing about Orangetheory is that you have a certified coach in each and every class to make sure that you don’t overtrain or undertrain. That was so awesome. I walked in for one hour, I wore a heart rate monitor, I got to see my heart rate on the screen, I got to work out next to different people doing different things and guess what? The class wasn’t boring. It was so much fun. My brother-in-law’s name is John. I said, “John, there’s something here. We’ve got to get in this.” The next day, we called corporate. A week later, we went down to the Ft. Lauderdale corporate offices and had a meeting. A month later, we owned two studios in Florida and were the early developers for North and South Dakota.
Jorvig: So you don’t even like working out but you are investing in and inspired by gyms?
Shah: Yep! I think the world needs to be healthier. I need to be healthier and there are no doubts about any of those things. But I got involved in this concept because it was for average individuals. You didn’t have to have any special training. You didn’t have to know anything, you just had to give us an hour. You walked in, the coach walks you through the entire thing, you get your results, and you get your results emailed to you. You get your results guaranteed for 30 days… who gives you that? I said, “This is the greatest thing.” So we started using it and that’s sort of why we got involved. We really thought it was for the average Joe.
BEHIND THE ORANGE THEORY CULTURE
Jorvig: Your gym has a culture and the team here is what really makes the experience. The coaches are unbelievably enthusiastic and highly-trained. How does that align with your leadership and values?
Shah: I think that we are lucky to find great people. And like any other place, you need the great people to make it great. We’ve gone out and found how that relates to leadership. We just go out and try to hire the best based on the values we have. Our primary thing is that everyone feels loved and safe here. That’s the whole point of Orangetheory. It doesn’t matter who walks in the door, whether it’s an elite athlete or it’s a person who just got off the couch and this is their first time coming into a studio, we want to make sure that everyone is treated the same. And we do that with our staff. There is no one different in our team; everyone just plays a different role to make sure that we execute that. I think what makes our culture so good is that everyone is willing to work together for the common goal of our member.
Listen. Culture is a hard thing to maintain. Orangetheory itself has got a great culture. When we go and we get trained by Orangetheory, we understand that culture. We bring it down and it’s a lot of work. It’s concentrating on feedback. It’s getting the right people in the door who want to give you that culture. It comes down to people for everything. If you don’t have the right people, the right things don’t happen, right? And you can’t teach somebody to be loud and obnoxious sometimes and you can’t teach somebody to be Orange. You just can’t. It’s in them. And you have got to find those people. It’s sifting through resumes and it’s a lot of interviews looking for the right guidance, the right diamonds and the right gems. And you don’t always get them.
That’s how we build a culture and that’s how we maintain the culture because we demand that it happen. Our concentrating, constant feedback, members’ feedback, going to other studios to see how they function, going back to corporate and getting the juice that they’re saying. It’s evolutionary. But it works.
Watch This Interview
NOT JUST A COLOR
Jorvig: I love that. Getting the juice. So what does it mean to be Orange?
Shah: It means to live life to the fullest. We go out and we’re all about more life. Come here four percent of your day, get more life. That’s what we’re about. We’re about giving you more fitness opportunities, different ways to go do things so that you can go do other things the other 96 percent of your day that you’re not here. Simple. It’s just to give you whatever they want to go get. But you need to be healthy to get there.
So the Orange is to invoke energy. Orange is one of those powerful colors that really brings a lot of energy to people and so when they thought about doing the studio, they’re like, “We need energy.” This whole place is about positive energy. Orangetheory was born.
Ellen Latham founded the concept in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, back in 2010. Along with a couple of other individuals, she took a concept that she was working on called Ellen’s Ultimate Workout and converted that into Orangetheory Fitness.
Jorvig: I have noticed that you put a lot of emphasis into helping others and giving back to the community every month. How do you decide who to contribute your donations to?
Shah: We believe in giving back but we ourselves don’t want to pick winners and losers. So we’ve gone out and found a company called Causely that goes out and vets all these not for profits. Every month, we have a new not for profit that we end up donating to via Causely and that donation is made via check-ins. So the more times that you check in on Facebook or Instagram, the more donations that that cause gets. It may be a brick for a school, it may be books, it may be seeing eye dogs. The great thing is that it’s going to be something that has been vetted and we know is worthwhile.
Last month, Orangetheory partnered with Bright Pink! Every three check-ins provided a breast and ovarian risk assessment for women to help prevent and detect breast and ovarian cancer earlier.
Jorvig: You have been a CEO, an accountant, an auditor and in the technology, manufacturing and music business. With experience in so many industries, what are the most valuable lessons you have learned along the way?
Shah: Business is business. It’s all about how you execute the business that makes the difference. It’s interesting to see how each one does it differently but it’s all kind of the same. Trust yourself. You get lots of advice from people who have been successful and who have failed and that’s great. That’s good information but you’ve got to build your company and your vision based on what you need and from within. You’re going to trust yourself. Sometimes you second guess. Like, “I don’t know if this is the right idea,” but trust in your vision and push through. I think what I’ve learned from all the other businesses I’ve been in is that they’ve all done that. They’ve stayed true to what they wanted to start with and it’s kept them going. And you’re going to fall. You’re going to stumble a little bit and you’re going to have setbacks but do you know where your North Star is? Keep going.