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Franchise Development Leaders: Orangetheory Fitness Area Developer Scott Marcus

The lawyer-turned-real estate professional-turned-Orangetheory area developer has even more growth on the docket.

By Madeline LenaStaff Writer
10:10AM 10/29/19

Michigan native Scott Marcus began his professional journey as a real estate lawyer before transitioning from practicing law to helming his own real estate development business. A longtime fitness fan, Marcus always took care to work out while traveling, and on a trip to Ft. Lauderdale in 2013, he stepped into an Ellen’s Ultimate Workout Gym, owned by Orangetheory Fitness Co-Founder Ellen Latham. While traveling to Phoenix a year later, he happened upon a studio that looked similar, but with orange lights and a different name—Orangetheory Fitness. Marcus spoke with the owner and learned that Ellen’s had become Orangetheory and that he was visiting the fitness franchise’s third location. By the time the brand hit about 50 units, Marcus found himself thinking: “If I don’t bring it to Michigan, someone else will,” and he signed on with Orangetheory Fitness. 

But he wasn’t done yet; by the end of his training week in Ft. Lauderdale, Marcus had signed on as the Area Developer for the entire Michigan market. He opened his first Orangetheory in Canton in March 2014. While he’s sold that location, Marcus currently owns and operates six locations, with plans for an additional four to be launched by the end of the year.

1851: Tell us about yourself and your background.

Marcus: I’m 44 years old. I grew up in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan before attending law school at Wayne State Law School in Detroit. I began practicing as a real estate attorney, but after my first year, I decided that being the client was more exciting than being the lawyer, so I went out and started a commercial real estate development company called RSM Development. I’ve built up that portfolio to about 3,500 apartments and 1 million square feet of commercial office and residential space. 

Additionally, I’m the Area Developer in Michigan for Orangetheory Fitness. I opened my first location about five years ago. We’re now up to 19 units in Michigan, of which I own six. And then we’re opening another three to four this year, and I’ll own two of those, so I’ll be up to eight owned locations at that point and will have developed 23 locations. 

In Michigan and around the country, the brand has exploded. Between loving the workout and loving our employees and members, it’s been fantastic. I’m on the franchise advisory council (FAC) and other operation committees that work with corporate—I like to be really involved.

By the end of this year, I’ll be up to about 22-23 locations in Michigan. By the end of next year, it should be 25 to 26. Many of these are in the Detroit suburbs, but we also have expanded to Holland, Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Grand Rapids and those studios are doing great—we’re really looking all over the state, not just in the Detroit metro area.

1851: What were you doing before working with Orangetheory Fitness?

Marcus: I was first a practicing real estate lawyer, then a real estate development professional. I still work in real estate development while working with Orangetheory Fitness.

1851: How did you find out about Orangetheory Fitness?

Marcus: I first visited a gym location, Allen’s (before it was Orangetheory), in Ft. Lauderdale. My wife and I went there three or four times the week of our vacation. Then I traveled to Phoenix about a year later and walked into a gym; it was the grand opening of Orangetheory’s third store. We met the owner that day and said, “Wow, this is cool, and it looks like this place in Florida we went to.” He explained it was Allen’s and then Allen’s became Orangetheory. 

After that, I followed the brand and visited studios whenever I was in a city that had one. Then once the brand hit around the 50- to 70-studio mark, I thought, “If I don’t do it, someone else will,” so I contacted the brand and went off to franchise training in Ft. Lauderdale. After listening to the leadership team, I ended up buying the entire state of Michigan at the end of the week. I was sold based on what I learned that week and where I knew they were headed with the brand. 

1851: What stood out to you about Orangetheory Fitness?

Marcus: Three things stood out to me. First was the uniqueness of the concept—at the time, there was nothing like it. I had personally done the workouts and loved it. So, if I loved it, I felt like I could represent the common consumer well. The second thing is the technology, which truly sets us apart; and the third thing is the leadership team. From a corporate standpoint, coming from a different franchise brand, the OTF team really knows how to grow a franchise.

That’s what I thought when I signed on—and I was right.

1851: What makes Michigan the perfect market for Orangetheory Fitness?

Marcus: The market happens to be very active. We’re not a Boulder, Colorado, but we’re still active, and employment is really good right now. People are willing to spend on a really great product—and people really love our technology and enjoy having access to a premium brand.