You don’t have to already have a heavenly body to be a part of the Planet Fitness universe.
The new Somerset Planet Fitness has opened in the Grand Central Place shopping center along U.S. 27 and is bringing the company’s “judgement-free” philosophy to a whole new market — along with an affordable approach to pursuing personal wellness goals.
“We’re always interested in bringing (Planet Fitness) to as many communities as we can,” said Ken Horn, marketing manager for this Planet Fitness franchise group, which owns and operates 57 such clubs in eight states, including 23 in Kentucky. “We noticed Somerset did not have a leader in high-value, low-cost fitness clubs, and that lined up perfectly with our franchise location.”
By “high-value, low-cost,” Horn means that the overall experience Planet Fitness offers is meant to be more than one might expect for paying a low membership rate.
“There’s a preconceived notion of what a $10-a-month club looks like. That’s where ‘high-value’ comes into it,” said Horn. “Anyone who comes in can see how clean our clubs are, how modern our equipment is, the vibe, the bright colors. The biggest feedback we get from new members is about how they’re able to get that kind of fitness experience that kind of environment for only $10 a month.”
The Somerset club features more than 80 cardio pieces, including 40 treadmills and 17 ellipticals, and also has rowers, stairclimbers, recumbent and upright stationary bikes, lower and total body arc machines.
“We lean heavily toward treadmills; our feedback from user reports indicates that people want to get on treadmills rather than an elliptical,” said Horn. “We have the PF 360 (full body workout) that we’ve put into all of our franchise locations to give people a variety in their routine, cardio to strength, and the 30-minute area is popular for people on a schedule. They can get in and get out and get a full-body workout in 30 minutes.”
That may all sound a little intense, but Planet Fitness has as its core paradigm quite the opposite. The club puts front and center the idea that it’s a “judgement-free zone” for people who might otherwise feel it uncomfortable to go work out and try to improve their overall health while being surrounded by hardbodies pumping iron like they’re on the beach.
“So one of the reasons why Planet Fitness has grown so quickly and done so well is that a good majority of our members have never belonged to a fitness club,” said Horn. “They’ve either been priced out with fees, add-ons, paying for things they don’t need like swimming pools and running tracks. That all goes into the bottom line and people end up getting prices out of the fitness club relationship. The second thing is people get intimidated out of a membership. They’re in here to try to improve their health on a daily basis — we’re all a little bit flabby here or there or not as fit as we want to be — and self-consciousness takes over when people are bench pressing 200 pounds or squatting 600 pounds.
“We’re appealing to people who are looking to come in, get a workout, and improve their general health and fitness,” added Horn, “and feel better walking out the door than when they walked in the door.”
That low-pressure mentality extends throughout Planet Fitness, including the free pizza offered for club members on the first Monday of every month, and bagels on the second Tuesday.
“At Planet Fitness, we like to have a little social time where members are invited to come in and grab a slice of pizza on their way home, maybe to curb their appetite, maybe an opportunity to socialize with other members,” said Horn. “It’s by no means mandatory, but it’s a reminder that fitness can be fun. You don’t have to be a slave to fitness, you can have a piece of pizza once in a while.”
The club is open 24/7, as are most Planet Fitness locations around the U.S., and is always fully staffed, around the clock.
“We understand that people have non-traditional schedules; somebody working second- or third-shift may be looking to get a workout in before or after work. Many people in the food service industry like to get a good workout in before bed,” said Horn. “There’s always someone at the front desk, usually two (people) if someone is worried about security. (When the club is less crowded), people like to decompress and have time to themselves. They don’t want fight over pieces of equipment. It’s another great benefit for members, to work out whenever the spirit hits them.”
Planet Fitness offers free fitness training, no matter your level of membership. “You can get with a fitness training and develop a custom plan, or sign up for many PE@PF sessions, where a trainer works with a small group one-on-one on certain areas if the body,” said Horn. “Like if you haven’t found a way to get a good leg workout, you can sign up for one of these sessions free of charge.”
However, while the $10 membership is good for those wanting to work out on a budget, there are a few extra perks for those carrying the Planet Fitness Black Card, including use of massage chairs, hydromassage beds, tanning, admission to any other Planet Fitness location, and the ability to bring a guest every time.
“Statistics show that when people can hold each other accountable, their levels of success are so much higher,” said Horn. “The Black Card allows you to have that person beside you to motivate each other.”
The Somerset Planet Fitness, a whopping 17,500 square feet, opened this past Friday and has already seen numerous local individuals interested in improving their health walk through the doors at all hours of the day and night. The response has been a positive one, said Horn.
“I think everyone is really happy,” he said. “No matter how much you play up what Planet Fitness looks like, when you first walk through the doorws, people are really surprised.
“All the local teams have done a good job making sure everything is upbeat and positive and encouraging,” he added. “The club is spotless. One the rare occasion a piece of equipment is broken, there’s a sign on it it, and it’s not up for very long because we get fixed as quickly as possible. People rally appreciate having a supportive environment around them. Whether it’s their first time or they’re a lifetime fitness advocate, they really enjoy the ‘judgement-free’ philosophy. The number one thing we hear from members is that no matter how their day has gone, they can come to the club and be greeted with a smile.”