Planet Fitness Expands While Other Gyms Struggle

    • Planet Fitness added 123 locations last year.
    • 95% of Planet Fitness gyms are run independently.

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With 2,124 locations — 95% of which are run independently — Planet Fitness has stayed afloat through the pandemic and is now looking to open 100 new gyms, all while investing in advertising and its app.

A gym expansion during the pandemic is rare. Around 6,800 gyms were forced to shut down permanently due to COVID-19, or approximately 17% of all fitness locations, per the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. 24-Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym both filed for bankruptcy.

Planet Fitness was able to stick it out.

While 50 of its gyms are currently closed due to government guidelines, Planet Fitness added 123 locations and rose its national advertising 22% year-over-year to $61.3 million. The money was spent even as the club recorded a 41% loss in revenue, down to $406.6 million.

“We consider ourselves as much a marketing company as a company that operates gyms,” said chief financial officer Tom Fitzgerald.

The fitness club was able to lean on recruiting members who have never been part of a gym, but the business still marked some loss. Member count fell 6% to 13.5 million, almost 1 million less than the 14.4 million it counted in 2019.

Some smaller gym owners feel their businesses have been ignored during the pandemic and unfairly grouped with big brands like Planet Fitness. After taking their concerns to Washington, 75 Republicans and Democrats have co-sponsored legislation to provide up to $30 billion in aid.