Planet Fitness

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Trading namePlanet Fitness
IndustryExercising, Health Clubs
Number of locations780
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Trading namePlanet Fitness
IndustryExercising, Health Clubs
Number of locations780

Planet Fitness is an American franchise of fitness centers based in Newington, New Hampshire.[1] Each gym features exercise equipment and personal trainers to assist its members. It markets itself as a "Judgment Free Zone", though somewhat controversially it has rules in place to discourage bodybuilders, power-lifters and "grunters" and in many instances have discriminated against them and banned them from their facilities.[2] Planet Fitness opened its 500th location on December 27, 2012.[3]


A Planet Fitness location in Revere, Massachusetts in November 2012.

The fitness club was founded in 1992, when Michael Grondahl acquired a financially struggling gym and dramatically reduced prices to compete against better-known brands. The low-cost business model focuses on the needs of occasional or first-time health club members rather than more experienced members.

There are 53 corporately owned gyms, with the rest being independently owned and operated.[4] The franchise is concentrated mostly in the Northeast, but it is a nationwide franchise.[5] The Franchise has been added to the Inc. 500 list.[6]

In 2011, the co-founding Grondahl brothers were still leading the company, but along with Chris Rondeau, who started out as the chief financial officer. More specifically, as the company continued to grow, the roles did change a bit. Currently, Michael Grondahl serves as the board member, Chris Rondeau serves as CEO, and Mark Grondahl serves as CFO.[7]

In the Fall of 2013, the Planet Fitness franchise gained a new partnership with TSG Consumer Partners LLC. This partnership was negotiated and completed in just 30 days with the help of Richard Moore, who is now the general counsel and chief administration officer for Planet Fitness.[8]

Membership Benefits[edit]

Planet Fitness likes to keep things simple and affordable. Joining your club will cost $10 a month, which doesn't include yoga, classes, or childcare. However, the monthly fee does include a clean atmosphere to workout in, a dozen flat screen televisions, various cardio equipment, circuit training, free weights, locker rooms with showers, and free personal training. The cardio equipment includes treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bicycles, and stair climber machines. Every gym also has an area designated for the use of mats and ab exercise balls. Plus, most clubs are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.[9]

Additionally, Planet Fitness strives to create a relaxed workout environment for all of their members; they achieve this by having mottos posted around the clubs such as "no critics allowed", "judgement-free zone", and “no gymtimidation, no lunks”. The Planet Fitness franchises are not complete without a "lunk alarm", which is a siren that blares and flashes a blue light when gym-goers violate prohibitions on grunting and other bodybuilding behaviors.[10]


Planet Fitness currently has 780 locations with an estimated 5 million members across 48 states in the U.S.[11]


As of January 2012, it is the national gym sponsor of NBC's reality show, The Biggest Loser. The contestants on the show will work out on Planet Fitness equipment while at The Biggest Loser Ranch in Calabasa, California, and then at Planet Fitness gyms near their homes, working with Planet Fitness personal trainers.[12]


People have complained to Planet Fitness that what they thought was a gym, is not a gym. Members want more intense equipment, classes, child care offered, and want an overall serious workout. Planet Fitness is known for their free food they give out throughout every month. For example, tootsie rolls are available daily, there is a free pizza day every first Monday of the month, and free bagel days every second Tuesday of the month. Members often find that the temptation of food is hard to resist and think that a gym is not the place to offer to people who are either starting a workout out or finishing one.[13]

The chain was the subject of controversy in 2006 because of a New York Times article[14] describing the public cancellation of a patron's membership (for "grunting") at their Wappingers Falls, New York location. Similarly, in 2014, a woman exercising at their Richmond, California location was told to change because her "toned body" was "too intimidating."[15]

In October of 2011, an Albuquerque Planet Fitness refused to let a New Mexico Muslim woman wear her religious head covering while she tried to work out. After signing a two-year contract with the gym, she was turned away and was told the head covering didn't meet the company’s dress code. The woman’s lawsuit, filed under the New Mexico Human Rights Act and the Unfair Practices Act, Planet Fitness illegally based the decision to deny her access upon her religion, or alternatively upon her race, as she is African American, and that the gym had no legitimate or non-pretextual reason to deny her entry. Planet Fitness denied all violations stating that the Muslim woman failed to participate in good faith and that the company has legitimate business reasons for its practice as well as measures to prevent discrimination.[16]

Starting January 1, 2014, members of Planet Fitness are required to a pay a tax on their memberships as mandatory by the implementation of provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act. The membership fee is not increasing but rather it is a tax required by the federal government. The reasoning behind the tax is due to the option for members to tan at Planet Fitness. The increase is a "five-cent-per-month tax related to the ability to tan under the membership." It does not matter if the member uses or does not use the tanning facilities.[17][18][19]

In March of 2014 at a Planet Fitness club in Richmond, California, a woman was wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and capri pants with her midriff exposed, and she didn’t think her attire was out of line. Reportedly she was only told that the gym dress code prohibited wearing string tank tops. The Planet Fitness customer agreed to wear one of the shirts the gym provides patrons for free, but while she waited for the tee, another employee approached her with objections to her clothing. Feeling harassed and intimidated herself, she decided to get her money back and cancel her membership at the gym advertised as the “Judgement Free Zone” whose policy bans “gymtimidation.” McCall Gosselin, Planet Fitness spokesperson, said that criticizing Austin for being toned, “…is not in line with the Planet Fitness policy whatsoever.”[20]


  1. ^
  2. ^ The New York Times: "No Grunting, They Said, and He Was at the Gym"
  3. ^ "Planet Fitness opens 600th gym". Foster's Daily Democrat/ Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ Fit for franchising: From first gym in Dover, Planet Fitness building big brand
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Planet Fitness - Health". Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ No Grunting, They Said, and He Was at the Gym.
  15. ^ Gym tells woman she's intimidating guests with 'toned body'.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Funk, Luke (10 February 2014). "Gym memberships add Obamacare tax". My Fox New York. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  18. ^ Pratte, Ashley (10 February 2014). "PLANET FITNESS CITES OBAMACARE FOR TAX ON GYM MEMBERSHIPS". Breitbart. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  19. ^ Pratte, Ashley (10 February 2014). "PRATTE: Obamacare taxing a healthy lifestyle at the gym". Washington Times. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  20. ^‘toned-body’-intimidated-others-211926273.html

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