In case you missed it last week, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" had a little fun with Planet Fitness in one of its "reports." You might think the folks at Planet Fitness would be pretty steamed about how the company was portrayed. Not so.
Correspondent Jason Jones gets to the heart of the matter of a Philadelphia man who was thrown out of a Planet Fitness club, accused of being a "lunk" and setting off the club's "lunk alarm" for grunting too loudly while working out.
"We thought it was pretty funny," John Craig, in charge of brand development at Planet Fitness, wrote in an email. "Most people saw the piece for what it was—a purely satirical (and highly scripted) episode. There's been some criticism—as we expected—from folks who oppose our policies against weight-dropping and grunting. Since it was the Daily Show, we knew we'd absorb a few blows — but we can take it."
Planet Fitness is no stranger to criticism. Ever heard of a fella named Mike Grondahl? He's the CEO of the Newington, NH-based company who made some disparaging remarks about personal training last year. When the subject was brought up in a recent phone interview, Grondahl didn't back down from his stance, saying ending personal training was the best move the company has ever made.
"We've really taken our group training to a whole new level," Grondahl said. "We were averaging 20-25 visits a week before. Now our clubs are doing over 100 visits a week. In turn, we won't feel anything short-term, other than we're having to pay our trainers a little bit more money. I suspect that long-term, [members are] going to get acclimated to the club much better, and I believe our retention's going to increase. Two years from now, our EFTs will be much higher than they are today."
Now is probably as good a time as any to let you know that Grondahl will be appearing on a panel at our upcoming Club Industry show. The session, titled "What IS Going On in the Industry," is Wednesday, Oct. 12, at McCormick Place and will be led by Michael Scott Scudder, CEO of Club Management Education and Training Online who recently became a managing partner of the Fitness Industry Group. The panel also includes Bill Rodriguez, vice president of marketing at Snap Fitness, Bryan O'Rourke, CEO of Integerus, and Robert Dyer, CEO of Fitmarc.
The hope is that each of the panelists will have enough time to air their views during the 90-minute session. One panelist just might steal the show.
"Put your seat belt on. I don't have a filter," Grondahl said.
Operators are standing by.