By Julie Chyna, executive editor of The Oak Parker
Growing tired of the corporate grind, Adryenne Hearne Alvarez and her brother, Derek Hearne, would frequently talk about their various business ideas. They realized that with Derek’s background in operations and economics, Adryenne’s experience in sales, and both of their entrepreneurial spirits, their combined skills would make them a great business team.
Then, on a business trip, Adryenne was introduced to Orangetheory Fitness, a franchise chain of fitness studios.
“I previously owned a small fitness studio,” Adryenne says, “and I thought Orangetheory had a good business model. They were on the cusp of where fitness is going, which is less ‘big box’ concept and more ‘boutique’ concept.”
Orangetheory combines high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with heart rate monitoring and personal training to provide a customized workout for each member. Members wear heart monitors during workouts so that fitness coaches can provide individualized recommendations and modifications to ensure that each person is getting a workout that challenges them at their fitness level and addresses their fitness goals.
A one-hour Orangetheory class can help a person burn 500-1,000 calories, and the classes are different each time. The studio also includes exercise equipment such as treadmills, weights, TRX, and other machines for those who want to increase strength without high impact on their joints.
“Some membership levels may cost a little more than some other gym memberships,” Adryenne says. “But they’re a fraction of what you’d usually pay for personal training.”
Once they knew that Orangetheory was the business they’d been looking for, they needed a location.
“We were looking at a few options. Oak Park had the demographics that Orangetheory is usually looking for, plus a lot of those other qualities that you can’t always put on paper, like community involvement and other like-minded businesses in the area,” Adryenne explains. “We grew up in the Chicago area, so we knew that Oak Park was a fantastic neighborhood—a great place to live and very diverse.”
The siblings opened their studio at 7121 North Ave. last spring, and membership has nearly doubled since their opening day.
“People love the coaches,” Derek says. “The coach gets to know you as a client—they know what your goals are and what you’re trying to achieve, they know the hurdles that you’re facing or any previous injuries. They know you’re getting married in six months or going on vacation and want to look good in a swimsuit. That personal touch really works and is motivating. People really start to enjoy working out—they feel like it’s a family atmosphere because of the camaraderie with other clients. They become friends outside the studio.”
Derek also notes that another reason their studio works is that the fitness model is for anyone.
“People come to us who have never worked out in their lives, others are triathlon athletes,” he says. “You don’t need to be an athlete to get started. You’re not just thrown into a class where you’re expected to keep up with everyone in the class. You’re working at your own pace, and the coach knows what your pace should be. As they watch your progress through our heart monitor system, they can make tweaks to what you should be doing to make sure you’re getting a customized workout. It’s not boot camp, where you have to work out in cadence with everyone else. It’s more personal.”
In the comin months, Adryenne says, “our goals are to pay it forward. We really feel like Oak Park has embraced us, so each month, we do a charity event that is community-focused. We want to focus on charities in Oak Park or surrounding area. Whether that’s a charity workout to raise money or a collection drive, we feel strongly about paying it forward to this community.”
Now for the most important question: How is it running a business with your sister or brother?
“We get along really well,” Derek says with a laugh. “Aside from the more mundane, normal business activities, it’s really nice to be able to spend time working on something that’s really positive and worthwhile and to be doing it with your sibling. We don’t have any other brothers or sisters, so it’s everything for us. It’s a lot of fun. We get the chance to joke around but we’re also pretty driven and serious about what we do.”
Photos courtesy of Adryenne Hearne Alvarez and Derek Hearne