Planet Fitness stays afloat during pandemic, bets big on brick and mortar

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021

The US may be headed towards a post-pandemic fitness boom, according to Planet Fitness Chief Executive Officer Chris Rondeau. At the height of the pandemic, gyms across the country shut their doors, and some even turned their lights off for good. However, Planet Fitness stayed afloat – managing to keep their doors open without any permanent closures for their 2,000+ gym locations.

Rondeau is looking forward to the future potential of fitness in 2021. This uprise will be one “like we’ve never seen,” stated the CEO. This will allow Planet Fitness the opportunity to focus on their brick-and-mortar footprint and future growth initiatives.

“COVID fatigue is real. People are coming out and joining, and they’re not canceling at elevated levels right now. I’m pretty confident that the first quarter here we’ll begin to start adding members and have growth for a broad section of our stores. I’m happy to put last year behind us,” said Rondeau.

The company’s ability to say ahead during the pandemic was largely due to their size and low-cost business model. However, their strategic focus on increasing digital content for its members also played a role.

Digital fitness opportunities have created a pathway for brick-and-mortar advancements at Planet Fitness. Nearly 20% of Planet Fitness’ digital subscribers have converted to become members at their physical locations. While digital offers a short-term fitness solution amid the pandemic, it doesn’t replace the quality of human interaction one receives from the actual gym.

“It’s a good supplement to your gym experience, but you’ll never have the quality or the variety of going to the gym and the community and the energy of being around other people,” said Rondeaus.

Planet Fitness’ core messaging strategy is targeted to first-time gym goers, with an atmosphere designed to welcome everyone and be a “judgement free zone.” Rondeau believes that Planet Fitness can fill the void and disrupt a digital-first world by offering a low-cost solution and catering directly to new fitness users.

“With most content out there that you pay for, it’s really about getting fitter. In the bricks and mortar world, you got the Orange theory’s and the F45s and the SoulCycle’s, and they’re all great exercises, but in most cases they’re too extreme for first-timers. Our content is geared toward the casual first-time gym member, and most content out there is not like that,” said Rondeau.

The pandemic has served as an opportunity for Americans to be more involved in their health, which directly benefits gyms.

“Only 20% of the US population even has a gym membership. That’s it. That’s the problem. If 80% had a gym membership, maybe the country wouldn’t be here with all these fatalities. I think coming out of this, people will have a sense of appreciation of fitness and wellness and taking care of yourself,” Rondeau added.

Source: Planet Fitness Bracing for B&M Boom – Business Insider
Photo Credit: Fortune

About Planet Fitness
Founded in 1992 in Dover, NH, Planet Fitness is one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the United States by number of members and locations. As of September 30, 2020, Planet Fitness had more than 14.1 million members and 2,086 stores in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Mexico and Australia. The Company’s mission is to enhance people’s lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment, which we call the Judgement Free Zone®. More than 95% of Planet Fitness stores are owned and operated by independent business men and women.

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