Orangetheory Fitness launches workout tracker for Apple Watch

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Orangetheory Fitness rower
The Orangetheory Fitness franchise has created a small accessory that attaches to an Apple Watch band to track your heart rate during exercise.
Photo: Orangetheory Fitness

The nation’s 13th-largest health club chain, Orangetheory Fitness, will begin supporting Apple Watch in its 1,300 franchise studios by March, the company said Thursday. That will make it the first fitness brand to officially partner with Apple on a fitness studio solution.

The fitness franchise created a small accessory, called the OTbeat Link, that attaches to an Apple Watch band to track the heart rate of customers during exercise classes.

As Apple Watch continues to evolve, its use as a health- and fitness-focused device continues to expand. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook even said his company’s “largest contribution to mankind will be in improving people’s health and well-being” when the Apple Watch ECG feature launched last year.

In addition to continually adding (and fine-tuning) Apple Watch fitness and health features, Apple also partners with third-party players. Apple’s GymKit platform lets certain gym equipment connect to Apple Watch. However, equipment makers have not yet widely adopted it.

Orangetheory Fitness OTbeat Link

The Orangetheory Fitness partnership takes a different tack. It will make Apple Watch even more vital to the fast-growing club’s 800,000-plus members. The new Orangetheory Apple Watch accessory, the OTbeat Link, will let members use their own Apple Watch in the gym. Then it will sync heart rate data to the club’s live leaderboards during classes.

Orangetheory currently sells OTbeat wearables that look more like traditional fitness bands. But customers clamored to be able to use their Apple Watch during the club’s heart-rate-based interval training sessions.

“Not only will members be able to view metrics in real-time in class with an Apple Watch, they’ll also be able to see their Orangetheory Fitness workouts afterward in the Activity app,” the company said in a prepared statement.

Customers can purchase the OTbeat Link early next year at Orangetheory Fitness locations for $129.

“Apple Watch is designed to help people live a better day by being more active,” said Apple fitness director Jay Blahnik. “With workout-tracking, Apple Pay and a new membership program, we are thrilled Orangetheory Fitness is integrating Apple Watch into a comprehensive experience for their customers.”

Orangetheory Fitness also developed two new iOS apps to improve interaction between staff, coaches and club members. The OTassist app allows Orangetheory sales associates to navigate class schedules, view member milestones and check-in members. OTcoach lets coaches lead aspects of the class, such as music and timing, more successfully from their Apple Watch.

The health club predicts OTcoach will enable its coaches to spend 10% more time with members. That could translate into 7.2 million hours of additional guidance.