Planet Fitness: no guilt

Laid-back approach designed for those who don't 'do' gyms
2013-02-10T00:00:00Z Planet Fitness: no guiltAngela Pittenger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Pizza, bagels and Tootsie Rolls are usually reserved for Friday nights out, rushed mornings or bribing the kids - not the gym.

But Planet Fitness, which has opened two locations in the Tucson area, has a different view of what a gym should be.

Rather than attracting hard-core gym-goers and body builders, Planet Fitness strives to appeal to people who don't normally "do" gyms.

Eric Goodwin, co-owner of the Tucson franchise, said "14 percent of everybody now belongs to a fitness club ... we're really after the 86 percent that aren't into the grunting and dropping weights."

Planet Fitness is designed to be noncompetitive and comfortable for those who feel apprehensive about going to the gym.

Planet Fitness member Araceli Quintana joined after going with her sister.

"It's not like other gyms, where it feels intimidating for people who aren't real fit yet," Quintana said. "You're not asking yourself, 'Do I belong here?' "

In its quest to appeal to the casual gym-goer, Planet Fitness facilities have simplified, less daunting equipment. For example, dumbbells only go up to 60 pounds and there are no squat racks. Instead, there are more than 100 cardio machines, a resistance area, a stretching and specialty focus area and a 30-minute interval training circuit.

"It does seem to be a slightly different take on the gym ideology," said Donald Gates, program director for the Pima County Health Department. "We're certainly in favor to alternative approaches to getting people active."

Goodwin, who was a member himself before becoming a franchise owner, was also attracted to Planet Fitness' no-guilt, judgment-free concept.

He said he lost 70 pounds working out at a New Hampshire facility. "I'm very connected to it," he said.

To reiterate its no-guilt tradition, the gym has "pizza Monday" the first Monday evening of the month and "bagel mornings" the first Tuesday of the month. There are also Tootsie Roll treats available to members.

But pizza at the gym? Gates doesn't think it's a bad thing.

"I think diets that exclude any food types are doomed to fail ... and it's only an occasional thing," he said.

"We're happy with anything that gets people active."

A total of 14 Planet Fitness locations are planned for Tucson in the next several years.

Goodwin said his franchise group is negotiating three locations right now.

"With as many gyms as Planet Fitness is opening up, maybe they're onto something," Gates said.

About Planet Fitness

• Planet Fitness was founded in 1992 in Dover, N.H., and is a national sponsor of The Biggest Loser.

• There are 3.5 million members at 600 locations.

• Memberships start at $10 a month with no commitment.

• There are two locations in the Tucson area: 10525 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley. 544-4200. 4848 N. Oracle Road, Tucson. 293-4200.

• For more information, go to www.planetfitness.com

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at 573-4137 or apitteng@azstarnet.com

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