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Planet Fitness opening location inside Pine Ridge Mall this winter

September 18, 2018

CHUBBUCK — Planet Fitness is known by many as a gym that revolutionized the industry by implementing a non-intimidating, low-cost model to its service.

After opening a 22,000-square-foot facility in Idaho Falls last winter, Planet Fitness has recently announced a 24,000-square-foot “Judgement Free Zone” gym set to open this winter in the storefront that formerly housed Herberger’s inside the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck.

“The 24,000-square-foot club will offer state-of-the art cardio and strength equipment, free fitness training, and a Black Card Spa which will include HydroMassage beds, massage chairs, and tanning beds for PF Black Card members,” Senior Public Relations Manager, Becky Zirlen, told the Journal via email this week.

Zirlin added that Planet Fitness caters primarily to first-time and casual gym-goers who may have never belonged to a gym before.

“We always strive for a non-intimidating, judgement-free atmosphere where our members can feel comfortable working out at their own pace,” Zirlin said.

Brothers Michael and Marc Grondahl first founded Planet Fitness in 1992 in Dover, New Hampshire. Initially, the gym had heavy free weights, juice bars, group exercise classes, daycare and more.

In essence, it was a place where the fit got fitter, and, like every other gym in its small hometown, it was fighting for the same customer by catering to the approximately 15 to 20 percent of the population in the U.S. who worked out and belonged to a health club.

In 1993, the Grondahl brothers had hired a man named Chris Rondeau, the company’s current CEO, to run the front desk at a gym. Together, they started asking themselves, “Why does 80 to 85 percent of the population not belong to a gym?”

Their answer? First-time and casual gym users didn’t like the “look at me” attitudes and behaviors found in typical gyms, and they didn’t want to have to pay a lot of money to give fitness a try.

So, together they completely changed the gym environment, both in attitude and format, creating the non-intimidating, low-cost model that has revolutionized the gym industry. Planet Fitness became known as the “Judgement Free Zone” – a welcoming and friendly community where people could feel comfortable regardless of their fitness level.

To focus more on what first-timers and casual gym goers really wanted – cardio, circuit training and light free weights – they removed group exercise, daycare, heavy free weights and reallocated that space accordingly.” Because more room was made for cardio equipment, they didn’t have to put time limits on popular equipment and members didn’t have to wait to work out. Removing heavy free weights also helped get rid of intimidating “lunk” behaviors, like grunting and dropping weights.

What’s more, the company slashed expensive membership fees down to a price that Planet Fitness feels is much more affordable.

“Membership always start out at $10 a month, or $21.99 a month for the PF Black Card,” Zirlin said. “The Black Card offers the above amenities, the ability to bring a guest for free and use of any of the 1,600-plus Planet Fitness locations nationwide in all 50 states.”

Drake Taylor, the general manager of the Pine Ridge Mall, told the Journal on Monday that Planet Fitness is expected to occupy half of the space that once housed Herberger’s. The Planet Fitness will utilize one of the exterior entrances to the storefront and there will not be any access to the gym from inside the mall.

As the Pine Ridge Mall, and many other brick-and-mortar stores, continue to seek success in a retail environment dominated by online shopping, Taylor said that getting a tenant like Planet Fitness to set up shop locally will greatly benefit the foot traffic for other stores inside the mall.

“The ability of the Pine Ridge Mall to quickly bring in new business to the former Herberger’s space demonstrates our commitment to serving the community and its premier shopping and lifestyle destination,” Taylor said.

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