Planet Fitness

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Planet Fitness, Inc.
Planet Fitness
TypePublic company
Founded1992; 31 years ago (1992)
  • Michael Grondahl
  • Marc Grondahl
  • Rich Berks
HeadquartersHampton, New Hampshire, U.S.
Number of locations
Area served
North America
Dominican Republic
Key people
Craig Benson (interim CEO)[3]
Number of employees
1,616 (2020)

Planet Fitness (PFIP LLC) is an American franchisor and operator of fitness centers based in Hampton, New Hampshire.[4] The company reports that it has around 2,400 clubs,[5] 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.[6] It markets itself as a "Judgement Free Zone" that caters to novice and casual gym users, and has faced both praise[citation needed] and criticism for its atmosphere.


A Planet Fitness location in Waycross, Georgia in 2021
Planet Fitness locations in the United States as of 2015

In 1992, Planet Fitness founders, Michael and Marc Grondahl acquired a struggling Gold's Gym franchise in Dover, New Hampshire.[7] They eventually closed that original location, opened a gym called Coastal Fitness and brought on a third partner, former CEO Chris Rondeau.[8][9][7] In 2002, they purchased the rights to the name Planet Fitness from Rick Berks and renamed their franchise.[10][7]

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.[11][12] 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".[13] Berks later went on to open the first Youfit Health Club in St. Petersburg, Florida.[14]

Planet Fitness' business model focuses on the needs of occasional or first-time health club members, rather than more experienced members,[15] and depends on many members rarely showing up.[16] According to a Planet Money episode from 2014, "half of the Planet Fitness members don't ever go to their gyms."[17] In 2003, Planet Fitness opened its first franchised location in Florida.[18]

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.[19] 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."[19] Planet Fitness has been criticized for prohibiting certain weightlifting exercises–such as deadlifts and clean-and-jerks–that many experts believe are highly effective.[20] In 2010, Men's Health magazine called Planet Fitness "the worst gym in America."[20]

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."[21]

In the fall of 2013, TSG Consumer Partners LLC became an equity partner in the Planet Fitness franchise.[22] Michael Grondahl, co-founder of Planet Fitness stepped down as CEO, and was succeeded by Chris Rondeau.[23][24] The company went public on August 6, 2015.[25]

In 2020, the company received criticism for charging its customers for March dues "despite closing its facilities nationwide due to the novel coronavirus pandemic."[26] 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.[27]


  1. ^ "At Youfit Health Clubs, patrons can feel the burn without bells, whistles".
  2. ^ "SEC Form 10Q Report, Q1". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  3. ^ Fonrouge, Gabrielle; Richardson, Drew (September 15, 2023). "Planet Fitness shares sink after board ousts CEO in shocking move". CNBC.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Max (November 10, 2016). "Planet Fitness headquarters moving to Hampton". Seacoast GateHouse Media. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  5. ^ "Planet Fitness Sets New Membership Records". Fitt Insider. February 28, 2023.
  6. ^ Hall, Nick (December 16, 2019). "4 international franchises that landed Down Under in 2019". Inside Franchise Business. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Turner, Jeremiah. "Fit for franchising: From first gym in Dover, Planet Fitness building big brand". Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  8. ^ "How Planet Fitness Became the Leader in Fitness Franchising - News".
  9. ^ "How Planet Fitness Became the Leader in Fitness Franchising - News". Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  10. ^ "Marc Grondahl of Planet Fitness: How a Lean Business Model Became a Franchise Heavyweight". Business Trends and Insights. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  11. ^ "YouFit Health Club expanding across South Florida, around nation | The Starting Gate". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  12. ^ Brochu, Nicole. "No-frills gym offers fitness without flash". Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  13. ^ "Meet Youfit's CEO Rick Berks". Youfit Youniverse. February 24, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  14. ^ "New gym in town hopes it's a good fit". San Diego Union-Tribune. April 19, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  15. ^ Schlossberg, Mallory (December 12, 2015). "The fastest-growing gym in America has $10 memberships and gives out free pizza, bagels, and candy". Business Insider. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  16. ^ Jakab, Spencer (August 11, 2019). "Planet Fitness Must Come Down to Earth". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  17. ^ Swanson, Ana. "What your new gym doesn't want you to know". Washington Post. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  18. ^ Taylor, Kate (July 25, 2014). "Franchise Players: We Were Planet Fitness's First Franchisees. Now, We Own 22 Locations". Entrepreneur Media. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  19. ^ a b O'Neil, Luke (May 8, 2011). "Planet Fitness vs. the lunkheads: Why is a health club trying to alienate people who love to work out?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Carter, Kiera (December 29, 2010). "The Worst Gym in America?". Men's Health. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  21. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (March 9, 2015). "Planet Fitness revokes woman's membership after transgender complaint". Cable News Network. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  22. ^ Lawrence, Kelli (August 15, 2013). "A World Of Their Own". Profile Magazine. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  23. ^ "Planet Fitness Has New Investor; Promotes Rondeau To CEO". TSG Consumer Partners. January 17, 2013.
  24. ^ "Former Radio Shack CFO Fills Planet Fitness Hole". News Corp. July 26, 2013.
  25. ^ "Planet Fitness goes public, hits mark in first day of trading". Los Angeles Times. August 6, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  26. ^ Jakab, Spencer (March 23, 2020). "This Gym Chain Has Reason to Sweat". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  27. ^ McEnery, Thornton (March 19, 2020). "Planet Fitness members outraged over March bill amid coronavirus closures". New York Post. Retrieved April 30, 2020.

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