AWS Training and Certification Blog

Orangetheory Fitness: transforming workouts through data excellence

Orangetheory Fitness logo

Orangetheory Fitness built a groundbreaking new platform for strength and fitness by empowering its engineers to find insights in a mountain of customer data.

There are two ways to look at Orangetheory Fitness’s extensive membership base and 1,500 locations around the globe. One is as a chain of exercise locations experiencing explosive growth. The other is as an unparalleled laboratory for the creation, distribution, and understanding of health and fitness data.

“We see ourselves at the center of science, coaching, and technology,” says Ameen Kazerouni, Chief Technology Officer for Orangetheory Fitness. “We’re science-backed, technology-tracked, and led by expert coaches.”

One of the primary differentiators of Orangetheory Fitness’s signature “Orange 60” workout is that during classes, most participants wear heart rate monitors. The devices connect to an internal network that displays real-time data on screens around the studio. During the workout, each member’s exertion is continuously displayed as a percentage of their maximum heart rate. The goal is for members to spend at least 12 minutes during each 60-minute session in the “Orange Zone,” which is 84-91% of their maximum exertion. This proven formula is scientifically designed to supercharge their metabolism and cardiorespiratory health for improved results. What really takes this workout to the next level, however, is what happens to that data after the class is over.

Photo of Ameen Kazerouni, Chief Technology Officer, Orangetheory Fitness

Ameen Kazerouni, Chief Technology Officer, Orangetheory Fitness

“Every day, we push a new workout to all of our locations, and that workout is experienced by hundreds of thousands of different people,” says Kazerouni. “This gives us an incredibly signal-rich dataset that allows us to study the cardiac response to each workout across fitness levels, across ethnicities, across countries, and more. Our fitness design team is constantly using that data to fine-tune our understanding and tweak our workouts to make them even more effective.”

Evolution of data collection and analysis

The earliest version of the Orange 60 workout relied on self-reported Rate of Perceived Exertion that helped members track their progress. Soon after the company started, it introduced heart rate monitors to align with cofounder Ellen Latham’s philosophy that “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.” The system initially used static, age-based approximations of typical heart rates to decide which zone customers were in. In 2022, Orangetheory’s engineers developed the Personalized Max Heart Rate Algorithm, a system that used individual users’ data to create a custom set of heart rate ranges for each customer after collecting data from 20 workouts.

Cool as this was, Orangetheory wasn’t satisfied. “We felt that if we could process that second-by-second stream of heart rate data in real time, we could make the results even more useful,” says Kazerouni. “But it would also mean a massive shift in data collection and analytics. AWS was able to give us the computational power to do that.”

Moving to a much finer-grained level of data analysis allowed Orangetheory’s engineers to further tune the algorithm to where it could complete a custom profile after just five sessions. That profile is then recalculated after every session to further dial in accuracy and track improvements. At peak times, Orangetheory Fitness is tracking up to 100,000 data points per second across its network. Just a few years ago the concept of data collection on this scale would have been preposterous. Today it’s Orangetheory Fitness’s new normal.

“From inception, Orangetheory has utilized data and analytics as a strategic lever,” says Kazerouni. “That’s been a huge advantage, because, as technology has developed, we have been able to simply ride the wave without changing anything about our core mission. As our needs have become more ambitious, AWS’s tools and services have grown to match what we want to do.”

Leveraging AWS expertise and training for growth

To make sure Orangetheory Fitness used those tools in the most effective, secure, and cost-efficient ways possible, they enlisted the help of AWS experts to implement AWS Landing Zone Accelerator and AWS Control Tower to automate many lower-level technical tasks for Kazerouni’s engineers.

“This volume of inbound data would overwhelm a lot of shops, but the tooling AWS helped us set up gave us a way to quickly scale infrastructure without having to build the same architectures over and over again. Pushing this kind of technology overhead out into infrastructure-as-code and preconfigured cloud architectures lets us focus on our differentiators: building beautiful consumer-facing experiences and creating algorithms that deliver ever-increasing accuracy. We can do all that because we’re no longer focused on getting the plumbing behind it all to work.”

Having the correct tools is only half the battle, however. When Orangetheory Fitness upped their cloud game, they made sure to also increase the training levels of their engineering staff.

“As a technology leader, one of my core principles is that I don’t want anybody in my organization, no matter what their role or expertise level is, to build something they don’t understand,” says Kazerouni. “What was amazing about working with AWS was that it wasn’t just about automating our infrastructure creation process , it was about making sure we weren’t building on foundations we didn’t understand. They not only helped us create a new framework that lets us move faster but made sure we understood the fundamental architectures that were being automated, so we weren’t flying blind.”

Orangetheory and AWS collaborated on a customized training program consisting of a set of five half-day sessions, conducted online with the help of on-demand training resources in AWS Skill Builder. Many engineers also chose to get AWS Certified in various AWS specialties.

“No one is better equipped than AWS to explain how to use their systems in the most efficient and cost-effective ways,” says Kazerouni. “The training we did with AWS was incredibly valuable, and the rise in the understanding and awareness of how these tools work under the hood was very apparent on our engineering floor. The quality of our conversations improved significantly. It doesn’t just allow us to move faster, it makes the work more compelling, which is a significant help for attracting and retaining talent.”

“Orangetheory doubled its studio count every year for many years,” he says. “When growth is that rapid for that long, you can end up just trying to keep up. Having AWS train and certify our technical team opened their eyes to the ways we could offload more busy work and dedicate more of our energy to differentiators, without being resource limited. That’s when it stops being a skills discussion and starts being an efficiency discussion. And that’s what really pushed our velocity over the top. The training we got, plus the tools we have available to us, effectively turn our AWS consoles into infrastructure factories. We are continuing to be aggressive about adding new features, but we’re able to do that without aggressively increasing our resource allocation because AWS Training and services has automated so many of our processes. At this point, there are very few limits on what we can do.”

Of course, Orangetheory Fitness isn’t collecting all this data just because it can. The company is debuting two new workout types, its first new at-scale class types since the company was founded more than a decade ago. Strength 50 focuses more directly on building muscle, while Tread 50 is an endurance-focused, treadmill-exclusive workout. These supplementary Strength and Tread workouts have been crafted to seamlessly complement the Signature Orange 60 workouts by Orangetheory’s fitness design team working directly with the data collected from millions of members logging millions of hours in thousands of locations.

“There is an Orangetheory class transmitting data somewhere in the world every hour of every weekday,” says Kazerouni. “We’ve been dreaming of using that data to drive more personalization, more exercise modalities, and smarter workouts for a long time. With AWS on our side, we’re able to say yes a lot more often. We will be adding a tremendous number of new and enhanced features in the coming year, and that makes everyone — the engineers, the coaches, and the members — happier and healthier.”

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