Every January, Orangetheory Fitness kicks off its annual Transformation Challenge — an opportunity for members to set their individual goals for the new year, measure their progress, and join a support team unlike any other.
It consists of eight weeks (you have to attend at least three classes a week for six out of the 8 weeks), two InBody scans, and one thing to keep in mind: This is about you. Yes, there are winners in every studio based on body fat percentage changes. But fat loss is just part of it.
Whether they placed first or third or somewhere towards the bottom, previous challenge participants will tell you their results not only changed their weight, but also their confidence, mental health, physical health, greater goals in life, and so much more.
For one winner, Emily Tran, the Transformation Challenge led to an early diagnosis and helped save her life. For another, Jen Blanco, it changed her mindset and ultimately her career. And for Ryan Stevens, talk about a comeback…
Read on for these three individuals' powerful stories of very real change.
Emily Tran, 44
Winner in 2021
“After joining Orangetheory in November of 2019, I quickly became a regular. In 2021, I joined the Transformation Challenge and ended up winning for my studio and also for the Houston region. Losing all that weight, my body was transforming and becoming more lean and muscular. That was when I happened to notice an area of thickened tissue in my left breast.
Nothing showed up on scans, but I pushed for a biopsy. On June 21, ‘22, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, I’ve undergone three major surgeries and two minor ones. My body has recovered like a rockstar, very likely due to Orangetheory and eating cleaner. I even squeezed in 10 days of OTF six weeks after my double mastectomy and before my abdominal hysterectomy. And those 10 days helped with the lymph buildup, chest tightness, and decreased range of motion that all are effects of a double mastectomy. Essentially, OTF served as a form of physical therapy for my body. Now, I’m a breast cancer survivor!
The Transformation Challenge and Orangetheory played a major role in saving my life. If it wasn’t for OTF, I may not have noticed that thickened tissue. I also wouldn’t have weathered and recovered from my surgeries as well as I did—and my doctors even agree with me there. For me, OTF is so much more than just where I work out. I feel so supported by the coaches and other members. It’s a community.”
Jen Blanco, 39
Commerce City, CO
Winner in 2021
“Throughout most of my childhood, I was uncomfortable with my body and even bullied for being overweight. Before high school, I was able to lose a lot and have remained on the thinner side ever since—but I didn’t feel it on the inside. Fast forward to 2018, I signed up for the free intro class at Orangetheory… and canceled. And that happened several times! But on April Fool's Day, I finally went. Within months, I was an unlimited member.
When the Transformation Challenge started in February 2021, I didn’t have any weight loss goals. But I craved more self-worth, more inner confidence. So I signed up, ate well, gave up alcohol, and around the six-week mark, I had a major non-scale victory. I was at a playground, eyeing the monkey bars I could never do as a kid. And for the first time ever, I completed a pull-up. At that point I thought, I don’t care what I lose, I just did a pull-up! Turns out, I did end up winning the Transformation Challenge, but for me, the best result was that I felt validated. I felt good. And I realized I wanted others to feel good too.
So much so, in fact, that I soon quit corporate life and started a women’s empowerment company with two friends called SHIFT. Funny, I used to look at Orangetheory ads and think, I can’t do what they’re doing! And here I am: Working out. Staying consistent. And reshaping my whole career.”
Ryan Stevens, 29
Grove City, OH
3rd place in 2021
“My weight loss journey started with an unfortunate circumstance at Cedar Point, an amusement park in Ohio. In July of 2019, my fellow roller coaster enthusiasts and I went to go ride their new thrill seeker, Steel Vengeance. However, after waiting in line for two hours, I had to do the walk of shame off the coaster. No matter what I did, I was unable to fit because I was too large. I was embarrassed and heartbroken, but motivated. I tried working out on my own and managing my diet, but it wasn’t until I joined Orangetheory in January of 2020 that my weight loss started seeing gains…and losses! I started during the Transformation Challenge and ended up coming in third, which catapulted my desire to a better lifestyle.
It took me two years, but in the summer of 2021, I went back and rode that roller coaster! Since then, I have not only kept off the weight but also become stronger and faster. Orangetheory changed everything. Not only can you find community and science-backed workouts, you’ll find that the workouts are meant for everyone.
I love that the workouts are designed so that someone who has been working out for 10 years can be next to someone who is just starting out—and both feel like the 60 minutes are challenging but doable. There’s a little sign that sits at Orangetheory that I love so much: ‘Somewhere there is a past you, who is so proud of how far you’ve come.’”
So, who’s joining Transformation Challenge 2023?