After a Long Road, Orangetheory is Moving Forward

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 Orangetheory is becoming more than a theory. The long-awaited boutique fitness studio on Beach 116th Street is finally getting worked out.

The “Coming Soon” signs went up at One Sixteen, located at 133 Beach 116th Street, last week. Orangetheory Fitness is on the way after a more than two year wait. Local resident and fitness expert Matthew Long, long had a dream of bringing a boutique fitness studio to Rockaway after he made it his full-time home after Hurricane Sandy. As a competitive athlete, Long, a retired firefighter, was looking for a good place to help him keep in shape. “At that point, there were two boutique fitness places, Suncycle and Rock Fit. I went to both,” Long said.

However, he wanted to become more involved and started looking into buying a place around 2009. He considered buying Suncycle and adding his own touch, but it fell through. He then spent time working for Rock Fit and then Rockaway Gliders but having a gym of his own remained the goal. “I never gave up with the dream of wanting to own my own studio,” he said.

In 2016, Long was introduced to Orangetheory Fitness, and it was the inspiration he needed. “I was blown away. This is what we need here,” he said. It took some convincing for corporate to grant Long the rights to open up a locally owned Orangetheory on the peninsula. And when The Marcal Group began searching for retailers for its new condominium building, One Sixteen, Long jumped at the opportunity. “I was the first retail person they signed. It’s the same exact location where Suncycle was,” Long said.

Of course, Long ran into some immediate challenges. Opening a gym within New York City comes with its own unique hurdles. Gyms were required to apply for a Board of Standards and Appeals Special Permit for a Physical Culture Establishment, which needs to be renewed every 10 years. “It’s a permit on the books since the late ‘60s that was meant to stop brothels from opening up. It’s a useless money grab for the city that I believe should’ve been taken off the books years ago. It could cost a studio like mine up to $50K in added cost,” Long said. But it wasn’t going to stop him. Another challenge was needing a zoning change from a C1 to a C2 for a fitness business. And he needed that squared away before applying for the BSA permit.

But then Covid hit. “That just shut everything down,” Long said. With restrictions in place, a few local gyms wound up closing permanently during Covid. But Long pursued. “At that point, there was no rush with Covid and the uncertainties around it. There’s still uncertainties, but the landlords and I were invested in making this work and I didn’t want to give up on my dream,” he said.

As gyms opened back up again, the process moved forward. Mark Caller of The Marcal Group proceeded with the ULURP process for the zoning change. In May, Community Board 14 approved the application. It landed on Mayor de Blasio’s desk on August 26 and wasn’t vetoed. And in the meantime, according to Long, the BSA permit is no longer an issue. Earlier this year, the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) proposed a text amendment to do away with the BSA permit for smaller gyms. The proposal is making its way toward being approved and is supposed to go into effect in November, Long says. “We went through the rezoning and all that good stuff and now technically, we will not need that permit, so that’s a good thing. And that’s why we’re moving forward. Construction should start November 1,” Long said.

That’s why last week, signs went up on the building as a little teaser and reminder that despite the long process to get there, Orangetheory is on its way to Rockaway. Within a few days, photos of the sign made its way to the Friends of Rockaway Beach Facebook page, creating renewed buzz about the soon-to-come gym.

So what sets Orangetheory apart? “I’m a retired fireman. I did 17 years with the fire department. I was a college athlete, ironman, triathlon competitor, and unfortunately I was in a bad accident, and I had a lot of people to thank for saving my life, but everyone I thanked said ‘it wasn’t me, it was because of your level of fitness that kept you alive,’ so Orangetheory is what I believe to be the closest group fitness studio program that I trained with as an athlete,” Long said. “It’s all based off of your heartrate. It’s proper training for anyone at any level. Since you’re training based on your heartrate, it doesn’t matter if a person is a college athlete or if they need to lose 50 pounds. That’s what drew me to Orangetheory.”

Already part-owner of an Orangetheory location in Danbury, Ct., Long knows just what this nationwide program can offer. “It’s a one-hour full body group workout and with focus on heartrate-based training, it’s guaranteed to provide results. It’s backed by science and we’re an incredibly technology savvy studio. It tracks your workouts, where you’ll instantly get your results. You’ll see them in real time. The best part is that personal trainers can be expensive, and we only hire personal trainers, and they’ll inspire you throughout the workout and keep you from under- or over-training, will keep you safe, and keep you healthy,” he said.

What do workouts involve? “You’ll circuit through treadmills, rowing machines and strength training where you’ll use bodyweight exercises, TRX suspension trainers, dumbbells and other equipment. No class, in the 19 years of Orangetheory, is duplicated. The workout changes every day,” Long said.

And anyone can do it. Long says the oldest member at his Orangetheory location in Danbury is 83 years old and the youngest is 17. One of the benefits of being an Orangetheory member is that it is a national network, so if on vacation, members can go to a nearby Orangetheory location and take a class. “In the network, there is a woman in Colorado who is 94 years old who goes to these workouts. It’s all customizable because you train to your own heartrate,” Long said.

When open, Long says Orangetheory Fitness Rockaway Beach will have 12 stations, so classes can have anywhere from 24 to 33 people at one time, depending on the class. “There’s a wide range of classes we can offer,” Long said.

Long says he’s hoping to open the Rockaway location by January 2022. In the meantime, Long is taking action before he opens. Starting in November, he’ll begin marketing “founders’ rates,” the lowest rates available for people to join, as construction goes on. Long is also beginning the process of looking for employees. Anyone with personal training or sales associate experience can find out more by emailing Long at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 By Katie McFadden

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