Black History Month may be over, but Adryenne Hearne is still living it. Hearne, 40, and her brother, Derek, 37, are the first, and so far the only, African Americans in Illinois to own Orangetheory Fitness franchises.
They opened their first one, located at 7121 W. North Ave. in Oak Park, in March 2015 — just as the Orangetheory Fitness brand appeared to be in the lift-off phase. The fitness company, which premises its rigorous workouts on clients’ heart-rates, was founded as a single health club in 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The company now boasts 600 studios across the country and revenue last year of $450 million. This year, it plans to open another 300 studios, according to Crain’s. Since opening their first studio in Oak Park, the Hearnes now have locations in the Will County suburb of Frankfort and the South Loop in Chicago. A fourth location, planned for Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, is on the way.
But one shouldn’t be taken in completely by the Hearnes’ 21st Century success story. This is still black history and certain struggles do not need regular workouts to remain ageless.
“I’ll be honest, we experienced some challenges in Oak Park to find a space,” said Adryenne in a recent phone interview. “We looked great on paper. We got all the way to sign on the dotted line and all of a sudden, the deal was pulled. That happened twice.”
Hearne said that she gelled with the owner of her current location, a minority, in a way that she didn’t with the proprietors of those two locations that mysteriously evaded her grasp. The way things panned out, however, proved to be felicitous.
Their Oak Park location is great for her clients, Adryenne said. It doesn’t feature quite the congestion and lack of parking that plagues certain main thoroughfares like Lake Street and it’s right at the intersection of Oak Park, River Forest and Elmwood Park — the communities that account for roughly 80 percent of the Oak Park club’s revenue, she added.
The former regional sales manager for a large medical device sales company, Hearne said that, as an African American woman, she’s had to fight for credibility in the corporate world.
“People don’t expect you to be a boss,” she said. “It’s the same thing in other industries,” she said. “You have to have a more successful track record than other people because sometimes they don’t really take you seriously.”
Her advice for young history makers?
“Dream big but figure out exactly what that means,” she said. “If you dream big, you’ve got to know as much as you can. Know everything it takes to accomplish that goal. Are there other people who are successful at what you want to do? If so, you can be mentored by them.”
That’s advice that she would also give her younger self, she said.
“I made a few mistakes,” Adryenne said. “My first location in Oak Park was underfunded and I had to find a way to make it happen. Fortunately, I did, but that’s only because I stayed in the corporate world for so long and had established myself financially that I could [afford to make that mistake]. If I had just jumped into this, it would have been a complete disaster. Always have an end-game in mind. Plan. And execute.”