With gyms in all 50 states as well as Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Panama, Planet Fitness is America’s fastest-growing chain of gyms. Dubbed the “Walmart of gyms,” Planet Fitness was able to open its 2,039 locations by identifying and targeting a niche that turned out to actually include the majority of gym-goers.
In the 1990s, Planet Fitness established its reputation as the Judgement Free Zone, a slogan that acknowledged the toxic culture many associate with gyms and targeted first time gym-goers. It acknowledged the importance of empowering gym-goers at the beginning of their journeys to not feel judged by the far more advanced members whose bodies and mentalities may intimidate others. This focus on the ordinary person who just wants to be healthier has proven to be the secret ingredient to Planet Fitness’s spectacular success.
The Judgement Free Zone philosophy is the brainchild of CEO Chris Rondeau, who has been with Planet Fitness since 1993 and assumed the head job in 2013. Through his personal mission to persuade the “rest of the population to give fitness a go,” Rondeau has driven many out-of-the-box and clever initiatives such as slashing membership prices, changing gym models to appeal to a wider group, and strategic sponsorships.
Thanks to the broad niche it has found and Rondeau’s leadership, Planet Fitness has had a V-shaped recovery from the pandemic, landing on the other side with close to record membership sign-ups. Its offer to help anyone get fit and save money is one that will likely only see the chain further expand in the future.