By Taylor Craig
Planet Fitness has launched the “Teen Summer Challenge,” allowing teenagers to work out for free this Summer.
Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau says the idea started when one of the company’s studies revealed that 90 percent of teenagers wanted to be more active during summers, but almost half said that they failed to do so.
That study also found that “more teens wanted to exercise during the summer than be on social networks, be on their phones, or even watch video games,” Rondeau said. “It was really interesting to see that, so we decided to do this.”
The program is for young adults aged 15 to 18 years old. For those under 18, their parents will have to sign a waiver allowing them to exercise unsupervised.
But one Planet Fitness Manager told Cheddar that they are not looking forward to the Teen Summer Challenge, afraid it would lead to loitering and unwanted guests.
“It’s just gonna be a hangout for kids and then I’m gonna have to be the bad guy kicking them out,” the manager said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Trust me, no one’s more of a proponent for starting a healthy lifestyle early, but for 15-year-olds to work out without their parents for free … is a recipe for disaster.”
Planet Fitness did not immediately respond to a request to address the concern.
The chain of gyms has thrived in recent years, as shares are up more than 457 percent since Planet Fitness ($PLNT) went public in 2015. On Wednesday, the company’s stock price hit an all-time high, and it says it plans to open 225 new gyms this year.
Rondeau says the recent failures of brick-and-mortar franchises like Sears and Toys “R” Us, have created “a perfect storm” for Planet Fitness as it looks for new locations.
“If you go back 10 years ago, it was hard to find real estate. We were competing with Best Buy and Barnes and Noble,” he said.
Recently, Planet Fitness inked a deal with Kohl’s that would allow the gym franchise to lease out space next to 10 Kohl’s locations. Rondeau argues that its members often spend money shopping after they hit the gym.
“We drive traffic,” he said. “We do about 5,000 workouts per week, per store.”