Workout clubs compete to be the low-cost leader
Kristen Faverty, from Manchester, takes a call on the treadmill at The Zoo Health Club, located on South Willow Street, in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
The Manchester woman fits right into the marketing plan for Planet Fitness: normal bodies rather than body builders.
"A lot of gyms are competing with prices and trying to offer a few more things," said Mike Carpentier, front desk and sales coordinator for Work Out World in Nashua.
Some health insurers offer financial incentives to work out at a fitness place.
Many fitness centers offer more than one monthly plan and also charge a joining fee and sometimes an annual fee.
That includes day care and exercise classes.
Work Out World, which counts Nashua as its only Granite State location, has two plans: $2 down and $10 a month and a platinum one for $1 down and $20 a month.
The higher plan includes unlimited tanning, classes and babysitting as well as the option of using other WOW gyms.
Carpentier said several years ago the chain eliminated its cancellation fee. Now, he said, "There's no commitment, so you can cancel whenever you feel."
Formed in Dover in 1992 and now headquartered in Newington, Planet Fitness has grown to 749 locations in 47 states with all but 45 owned by franchisees. New Hampshire alone hosts 16.
Members also pay an annual fee of between $10 and $39 depending on their membership type. The higher "black card membership" carries a year-long commitment but allows for a guest, entry to any club in the chain as well as various add-ons, including unlimited tanning.Planet Fitness members are "people who want to belong to a fitness club, work out and not pay too much because maybe they come once or twice a week," said McCall Gosselin, director of public affairs for Planet Fitness.
Paul Bosley, managing member of Florida-based Healthclubexperts.com who also finances health clubs through another business entity, said Planet Fitness sign up as many people as possible, banking on a lot of them not showing up often or at all.
He said people also shop around.
Gosselin said counting on no-shows is not part of its business plan.
A typical location has between 6,000 and 8,000 members, and a majority are open 24 hours a day.
At the Planet Fitness on Manchester's West Side, Shannon Brunelle, a junior at Southern New Hampshire University, spends $19.99 a month working out there five days a week. She started with a membership in her hometown of Oxford, Mass.
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