Planet Fitness Knows How to Make the Most of Its Moments
Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness, in front of the purple-clad New York Stock Exchange last August.
We’re reporting our Fast and Serious cover story for March right now, and enjoying the opportunity to pick the brains of 40 CEOs of the smartest-growing franchise brands, to learn how they drive sustainable growth. We’ll share all that wisdom in the next issue of Franchise Times
Along the way, we’re picking up some interesting stories, like the experience of Planet Fitness when it went public last August, and did so in a big way.
“The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Tom Farley, said they’d never seen anything like it,” says CEO Chris Rondeau about their debut on Wall Street. “We had purple rugs on the floor,” the brand’s signature color, throughout the venerable building. “We had hand chairs out front, and people were playing musical chairs.” They even had Planet Fitness dancers performing on treadmills out front.
Planet Fitness has a playful vibe, which I experienced when visiting its first gym, in Dover, New Hampshire, last week. They have a “Lunk Alarm,” which jokingly warns against over-muscled body builders heaving weights around. Instead of handing out bananas as people leave, as some gyms do, they hand out Tootsie Rolls, so members can have a little treat. They even have free pizza nights every first Monday of the month, and that gym in Dover easily goes through 80 to 100 larges.
They also have several yellow “hand chairs” throughout the gym, like the kind Rondeau referred to above, which are chairs shaped like an open hand. Sitting in one gives you the giggles, because it does seem like you’re getting a giant goose to the backside.
Back to Planet Fitness’s initial public offering, Rondeau says they didn’t leave anybody out on the big day. “We had franchisees there, legacy employees. It was an out-of-body experience.”
I like that he savored the experience, and didn’t act jaded, like going public was just another day in the life of a CEO. For self-described “gym guys,” as he calls himself and Planet Fitness’ two founders, brothers Marc and Mike Grondahl, it’s been a heady road from one gym in Dover in 1993 to more than 1,000 open today and another thousand sold. Here’s to enjoying the ride.