Fitness franchise a family enterprise

Omar Haram, co-owner of an Orangetheory Fitness franchise in Stone Mountain, said he and his family members chose the Orangetheory program because they found it to be “the perfect blend of a traditional workout class and the one-on-one benefits of personal training.”

“The room is filled with high energy, good music, and instructors that are guaranteed to make you work hard,” he added. Everyone works out at their own fitness level, whether you’re a walker, jogger or runner, you can come in here and still feel accomplished. It’s also a new workout every single day, offering a unique challenge each time you walk through our doors.”

Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, Haram his father, Michael, and brother Ahmad teamed up to open their first Orangetheory Fitness location in 2016. A competitive soccer player who has played all over the world and for Penn State University, Haram decided his knowledge of fitness and his father’s business background would be the perfect combination to open a fitness training center.

Haram said of his father, “He’s been CFO of every company he’s ever worked in for the last 20 years. Prior to that, he was a Wall Street man. He knows the ins and outs on how to run a business, sustain it and make sure it’s operating smoothly and at the highest of levels.” 

His father, he added, is not the first in the family to pursue a business career. “Every member of our family is an entrepreneur and they have gone about creating their own businesses in numerous parts of the world,” he said. “This stems from my grandfather, who left a war-torn country all by himself, at the age of 17, and established a very healthy living for himself. He’s built schools, hospitals all over the world and for that reason, I believe his influence on the rest of us has been vital to what we’re currently doing.”

The business name, he explained, comes from the program used at Orangetheory. “Orangetheory is basically a one-hour full body workout, focusing on endurance, strength and power. It is scientifically based, using heart rate interval training. The duration of the class is one hour, and members are all wearing heart rate monitors, and striving to get themselves in the ‘Orange zone,’ for 12-20 minutes of the class. The orange zone is 84 to 91 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is an uncomfortable zone for all of us.

“If you manage to stay in that zone for that much time, you create what we call EPOC, which stands for excess post exercise oxygen consumption. This results in burning fat up to 36 hours after the workout is complete. The personal trainers in every class push everyone to get into that zone. It’s designed so that every participant burns anywhere between 500-1,000 calories in that one hour.”

Despite the precision workout program, Haram said it’s not just for young athletes. “The beautiful thing about Orangetheory, you get people of all different age groups, fitness levels. You may have a marathon runner on a treadmill, and a person who’s never worked out a day in his life, yet it’s such an encouraging atmosphere that nobody is made to feel that they don’t belong. Ages range from 15 to 75—seriously. Of course, we have athletes that come in, but we also have people who are far from athletic, all trying to reach their goals but with the support of everyone around them, we make it happen.”

Haram said he and his partners chose the location after examining the metro Atlanta market. By the time they were aware of the growth of the Orangetheory brand, many areas of metro Atlanta had franchises already. “Lilburn/Stone Mountain was our best option. We’ve also opened studios on the west coast and those have also proven to be very good for us. 

“I’ve been well received in Stone Mountain,” he said. “I’ve found that everyone has been very kind to me and respects the work that I’ve put in to make this as great as it can be. I genuinely try to establish connections with everyone I come across and treat everyone with the upmost kindness. My staff has also been with me for over two years now so I’d like to think that’s a reflection on how well they’ve been treated and how much they’re enjoying themselves at work.” 

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