Planet Fitness CEO Says Convenience Approach to Fitness Helped Drive Record Year

January 7, 2020

Planet Fitness, the chain of gyms that advertises itself as a "Judgment Free Zone," closed out a record 2019 and is focused on the January business of bringing in New Year's resolution-holders who are looking for ways to get fitter in 2020.

"We opened 2,000 stores ⁠— December 31st was our date ⁠— right to the very end of the wire," Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness ($PLNT), told Cheddar about the company's most recent expansion.

There were 261 total openings for the year according to Rondeau, and the executive stated that in 2018, the industry added 1,100 gym locations and 1.6 million members. However, the New Hampshire-based company added 1.8 million members, accounting for about 100 percent of the growth, even taking 200,000 members away from its competitors, he said.

"Our business model is what drives this, and that's catering to casual, first-time gym-goers," Rondeau explained. "Almost 40 percent of our members never belonged to a gym in their entire life."

As some data suggests, the majority of people fall off of their New Year's resolutions some time around January 17.

The casual approach to fitness by Planet Fitness belies the recent trend of boutique and niche workout experiences and helps the chain retain the influx of New Year's resolution customers.

"The issue with the boutiques, for example, is they're catering to the 'getting fitter' which is a different customer than us getting them off the couch," explained Rondeau.

Staying on the topic of convenience for its customers, aside from the saturation of locations from Canada to Mexico, the CEO talked about the company's digital strategy, including offering its own fitness app.

"I think at-home fitness is a great supplement," Rondeau said. "I don't think it's the end-all, be-all, so we also want to offer content on our app and eventually expand that so that if you can't make it to the gym that day, Planet Fitness also has at-home options."

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