SOURCE: Planet Fitness

November 12, 2008 09:02 ET

Surging Planet Fitness Taps a Demand for Low-Cost, Hassle-Free Health Clubs

DOVER, NH--(Marketwire - November 12, 2008) - As Americans become more selective about how they spend their money, price-friendly Planet Fitness is experiencing its biggest growth spurt in company history: 25 club openings since Sept. 1 of this year.

Planet Fitness, which started franchising in 2003, now has 251 locations in 29 states, and last week a Wall Street Journal columnist hailed the company's "impressive victories" in tapping into the increased demand for low-cost, low-pressure gyms.

For consumers squeezed by rising day-to-day costs, the appeal of a Planet Fitness franchise comes down to convenience and simple economics.

While the average price of a health club membership is around $30 a month -- and a lot more at some gyms -- a $10-a-month Planet Fitness membership delivers a stylish, clean facility packed with name-brand cardio and strength machines, and a relaxed Judgement Free Zone® atmosphere.

"You can't beat 10 bucks a month," says Clifford Dyches, a 48-year-old New York City resident who recently switched from a $35-dollar-a-month gym to a brand-new Planet Fitness in Harlem.

Since sending their oldest child off to college this fall, Barbara DePalo of Franklin, Mass., says she and her husband have "definitely been looking for ways to save money." That's why they dropped their $99-a-month membership at a tennis club and opted for Planet Fitness.

"The other club had the pool and tennis and group-exercise classes, but we really weren't taking advantage of it," Barbara said. "We mainly used the cardio and strength machines, and Planet Fitness has plenty of that. A couple of my friends have joined, and we love it. We also love the fact that we're saving $80 a month."

Long before the economy hit the skids, Planet Fitness opened eyes with its customer-based approach. In August, the company was the #1 health club operator on Inc. magazine's list of the fastest-growing private firms in the United States.

For Erin Ubele, 27, a veterinary technician and Planet Fitness member in Allentown, Pa., the decision to cancel her membership at LA Fitness involved more than price.

"When you're paying $50 a month and traveling a lot and can't get to the gym, you begin to question why you're a member," Ubele said. "But besides being pricey, LA Fitness almost felt like a nightclub. I was never comfortable there. It's a different feeling at Planet Fitness."

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