Planet Fitness CEO: Gen Z Leading Charge Back Into Gyms | Athletic Business

Planet Fitness CEO: Gen Z Leading Charge Back Into Gyms

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Gym-goers are gradually making their way back to in-person visits post-pandemic, but one demographic appears to be leading the charge — at least according to the 24-hour mega-chain Planet Fitness.

"The boomers and the Gen Xers are just a little slower to come back," Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau told Yahoo! Finance. "Millennials are great."

"But Gen Zs," he added, "have gone off the charts. I mean, they've been joining about 150 percent of normal pre-COVID ever since we started opening our doors, and they continue, which is really great to see."

As reported by Yahoo! Finance's Ethan Kimball, the rapid increase in memberships among younger consumers has been driven by the gym's targeted programs and connective fitness apps, according to Rondeau. He explained that apps with workout content have been giving gym-goers the ability to learn exercises on their own and perfect their forms — an attractive proposition for those just starting to lift weights.

Gen Z, which includes those born after 1996, has been quickest to adopt the new technology.

"I remember when I was in high school, my form was horrible," Rondeau said. "Their form is unbelievable, and it's because they can teach themselves."

The Planet Fitness app not only offers instructional content, it also engages customers by letting them pay their bills and check how busy the gym is, Kimball reported, adding that there are other perks, such as discounts for beloved Gen Z brands like Crocs.

Furthermore, the gym chain, among the world's largest with more than 2,000 locations, offers a free teen summer membership, which brought in 3 million teenagers who logged 14 million workouts this summer. By comparison, only 1 million teen workouts were logged in 2019, indicating younger members are showing a higher propensity to work out.

Overall, Planet Fitness has come out of the pandemic with an all-time high level of memberships at 16.5 million members, according to Yahoo! Finance.

“The last two years have been a little tough," Rondeau said, speaking of the pandemic's impact on society at large and people's fitness habits. "This year has been really good. I’m happy with what I’m seeing. We added over a million members in the first quarter and 300,000 net members in the second quarter."

As reported by Kimball, the company's second-quarter earnings matched Wall Street analyst expectations. Revenue for the quarter hit $224.4 million,  a 63.5 percent increase from a year ago.

Planet Fitness said it saw a return to pre-pandemic member levels, stating that 34 percent of franchises are at or above that level now with more stores steadily making it back to that level. Same-store sales growth was up 13 percent in the second quarter, as well.

"I think people have begun to see that fitness is not just about waistline and going to the beach," Rondeau told Yahoo! Finance. "It really isn't. It's really what happens on the inside, right? Mental health, good for your heart, clears your mind, reduces stress, helps you sleep better — and I think people are really realizing now, especially with what's going on in the world, what we all went through with COVID, that that's really what matters."

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