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Planet Fitness opens Hampton HQ

Union Leader Correspondent

July 27. 2017 7:43PM
Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau, front row, third from left, stands next to Gov. Chris Sununu, while posing with employees for a photo after the ribbon-cutting event at the new world headquarters Thursday. (KIMBERLY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

HAMPTON — Planet Fitness has opened its new world headquarters in Hampton. The 70,000-square-foot facility on Liberty Lane West features a 4,000-square-foot private fitness center and a cafeteria for the 200 employees who work there.

CEO Chris Rondeau said that when the first Planet Fitness opened in Dover in 1992, 85 percent of people did not have a gym membership. The company decided to drop the price for memberships, and refined the traditional health club business model, creating the “Judgment Free Zone.” In 2003, company leaders decided to franchise.

“That’s really when the growth exploded,” Rondeau said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning,

Today, Planet Fitness has 1,300 locations in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The company has gyms in Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic, and plans to open in Panama later this year. Planet Fitness has more than 10 million members, Rondeau said, adding that 10 percent of New Hampshire residents belong to Planet Fitness. He hopes to grow the company to 4,000 locations.

After the ribbon cutting, Rondeau offered this advice for other business people who want to build something new or different: “Don’t be afraid of taking a chance, and I always say, ‘Do the unthinkable.’ We turned the whole industry upside down and did the unorthodox thing, and everyone else kept doing the same thing and expecting a different result, and we just did something totally different.”

Gov. Chris Sununu, who attended the event, congratulated Planet Fitness leaders and staff on their success. After, he spoke with reporters about the company’s growth.

“It’s great. You don’t often have a giant, national franchise based right here in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

Sununu works out at the Planet Fitness in Stratham.

“It is a part of our daily routine and our lives,” Sununu said. “It’s a brand we know, it’s a name we can trust, and it’s built by people right here in New Hampshire.”

New Hampshire senators, members of the House of Representatives, local elected officials and members of the Planet Fitness board of directors were on hand for the ceremony.

Planet Fitness went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015 and trades as PLNT. Last year, the state House of Representatives approved the so-called Planet Fitness bill, which changed how closely held companies such as sole proprietorships or limited liability companies are taxed when they receive an infusion of cash from an initial public offering or investment capital. Under Senate Bill 342, Planet Fitness and other LLCs are now not subject to the nearly 8 percent state business profits tax.

Before the bill passed, a lawyer for Planet Fitness threatened that the company might leave the state if the tax law wasn’t changed.

Business Health Hampton

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