|Headquarters||Hampton, New Hampshire, U.S.|
Number of locations
|North America |
|Craig Benson (interim CEO)|
Number of employees
Planet Fitness (PFIP LLC) is an American franchisor and operator of fitness centers based in Hampton, New Hampshire. The company reports that it has around 2,400 clubs, making it one of the largest fitness club franchises by number of members and locations. The franchise has locations in the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Panama, Mexico, and Australia. It markets itself as a "Judgement Free Zone" that caters to novice and casual gym users, and has faced both praise and criticism for its atmosphere.
In 1992, Planet Fitness founders, Michael and Marc Grondahl acquired a struggling Gold's Gym franchise in Dover, New Hampshire. They eventually closed that original location, opened a gym called Coastal Fitness and brought on a third partner, former CEO Chris Rondeau. In 2002, they purchased the rights to the name Planet Fitness from Rick Berks and renamed their franchise.
Berks had started his own Planet Fitness gym in 1993 in Sunrise, Florida, and eventually expanded it to three clubs, along with a Gold's Gym franchise. Berks had been catering to the bodybuilding culture in his Gold's Gym. "I decided I didn't want to deal with that crowd, so that's when I opened the original Planet Fitness club in Sunrise, Florida, in 1993." The name came from his daughter's school project, "Fitness Planet". Berks later went on to open the first Youfit Health Club in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Planet Fitness' business model focuses on the needs of occasional or first-time health club members, rather than more experienced members, and depends on many members rarely showing up. According to a Planet Money episode from 2014, "half of the Planet Fitness members don't ever go to their gyms." In 2003, Planet Fitness opened its first franchised location in Florida.
Planet Fitness has alienated many serious weight lifters. The gym utilizes a "lunk alarm", which is a loud siren and rotating light that is used when a gymgoer grunts too loudly or drops weights. Some bodybuilders and weight lifters have found the way they are portrayed in Planet Fitness TV commercials to be offensive, and the way they are treated in Planet Fitness gyms to be "quite possibly discriminatory." Planet Fitness has been criticized for prohibiting certain weightlifting exercises–such as deadlifts and clean-and-jerks–that many experts believe are highly effective. In 2010, Men's Health magazine called Planet Fitness "the worst gym in America."
As early as March 2015, the "Judgement Free Zone" policy was expanded to allow trans women to use the women's locker room. The policy states that "members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity."
In the fall of 2013, TSG Consumer Partners LLC became an equity partner in the Planet Fitness franchise. Michael Grondahl, co-founder of Planet Fitness stepped down as CEO, and was succeeded by Chris Rondeau. The company went public on August 6, 2015.
In 2020, the company received criticism for charging its customers for March dues "despite closing its facilities nationwide due to the novel coronavirus pandemic." They stated that they were unable to stop the pre-scheduled payments on short notice, but would not charge future monthly dues until they reopen, and would also provide a credit for closed days previously paid for.
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