SALEM — A large, locally-based Planet Fitness franchise opened a “Judgement Free” fitness center inside the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem Thursday.
Taymax Group Holdings, a Salem-headquartered Planet Fitness franchise that owns 90 clubs across the country, spent $28,000 plus in-kind donations to create the gym.
The mini-Planet Fitness gym — a 500-square-feet fitness center outfitted with treadmills and other workout equipment — is free for any Boys & Girls Club members.
“It’s all really new, high-end equipment,” Taymax CEO Tim Kelleher said.
Kelleher, Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem CEO Marco Abreu unveiled the gym at a ribbon cutting event Thursday afternoon with about 100 kids in attendance.
All spoke about the importance of creating a judgment-free culture that encourages young people and improves their self-esteem and self-confidence.
State Sen. Chuck Morse shared a senate resolution recognizing the “extreme generosity” of Taymax for creating the fitness center.
“This building is the proudest building in the town for me,” Morse said.
Rondeau said the company has donated about $5 million so far for The Judgement Free Generation program, which, according to the company website, is a philanthropic initiative designed to “combat the judgement and bullying faced by today’s youth by creating a culture of kindness and encouragement.”
So far, there have been about 25 youth fitness centers set up by Planet Fitness at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, according to Planet Fitness Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Dineen Boyle. She said most of them are spearheaded by franchisees.
“Many of the franchisees have taken on these projects,” Boyle said.
As a corporate liaison, she helps provide franchisees streamline the process.
The first mini gym of its kind was set up at the Manchester Boys & Girls Club. The Salem fitness center is the second one in New Hampshire.
Kelleher said Taymax is able to donate the facility because business has been seeing growth every quarter since it started in 2009.
“Because the business is doing really well, it allows us the opportunity… to focus on community-oriented stuff (and) giving back,” Kelleher said.
He said they’re going to open their 91st club very soon in Pittsburgh, Pa. In recent months, the company has acquired 27 clubs in Florida, Alabama and Ontario, Canada. They also own the rights to build an additional 125 new clubs in their existing territories, which also include parts of Tennessee, Texas and California.
Kelleher said they have plans to open about 10 to 20 new clubs per year. There are about 1,800 gyms overall with more than 14 million members.
“California alone we’re gonna build another 20 clubs in the next five years,” he said.
He has no plans to expand his footprint in New Hampshire. All but three of the state’s 18 clubs are corporately owned, according to company spokesperson McCall Gosselin.
Kelleher attributes the rapid growth to the strength of the company’s brand. Gosselin said the company is planning on seeing 250 to 260 new clubs open this year, and the brand has seen over 50 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales.
She said Taymax is one of their biggest franchises and has been named Planet Fitness Developer of the Year three years in a row.
Kelleher said he is a former 11-year Pelham police officer who was hired by current chief Joseph Roark. He said Taymax was founded by Chunky’s Cinema owner Kyle Nagle.
While Taymax is headquartered in Salem, it does not own the Salem Planet Fitness club that opened at 92 Cluff Crossing Road earlier this year. That store is owned by franchisee Taylor Mandell.