Franchisees of Planet Fitness announced they have formed an independent association. Meanwhile, Planet Fitness corporate headquarters says it will form a second franchisee association.

The Planet Fitness Independent Franchisee Association (PFIFA) was created after a group of franchisees representing 80 clubs met on Jan. 19 in New York, according to Martin Sinozich, a Planet Fitness franchisee and an interim board member of the association.

The immediate goals of the PFIFA are to complete a membership drive, finalize the association’s website and communication portal, and elect a board of directors. The PFIFA has emphasized five areas to help its franchisees: benchmarking (sharing information and ways to increase profitability), business best practices, marketing, products and services and real estate, Sinozich says.

When Sinozich opened his first Planet Fitness in 2004, the company had less than two dozen clubs. Last month, Planet Fitness celebrated the opening of its 500th club. In between, Sinozich says, there has not been a great forum for cross-franchisee communication within the company.

“We’re all pretty pleased with the performance of our gyms,” says Martin, who owns three clubs in North Carolina. “We’re pleased with the work that we’ve done with our franchisor over the years, and we’re trying to be that much better. We have a collection of tremendously strong and capable business people who want to work more effectively together, and that’s what this is about.”

The franchisee association created by Planet Fitness, Newington, NH, will be called the Franchisee Advisory Association, and its board of directors are expected to be elected this month, the company says. Planet Fitness was No. 7 on Club Industry’s Top 100 Clubs list last year with a reported 2010 revenue of $157.1 million.

“With 500-plus clubs, I think we’re so doggone big that we need two franchisee associations, and we’re going to offer one at no cost,” Planet Fitness CEO Mike Grondahl said in a statement. “A franchisee association is the best idea since the PF Black Card membership.”

“This is a sign of success,” Grondahl added. “If you’d have told me five years ago that we’d be big enough by now to have a couple of franchise organizations, I’d have said you were nuts.”

Sinozich says he was aware that the company is likely forming a second franchisee association and that PFIFA can work with that group.

“We can work with corporate any way corporate would like to work with us,” Sinozich says. “But again, our mission isn’t focused on corporate. Our mission is focused on helping other franchisees.”