The Branding of Planet Fitness

By: Gina Mason

The ever-growing fitness chain, Planet Fitness has established quite a brand for itself. With over 700 fitness centers across the US and its trademarked “judgment free zone,” Planet Fitness has successfully appealed to those who are looking to get healthy without having to deal with “gym-timidation.”

(gym-timidation: the gym behavior that makes everyday people feel uncomfortable).

Planet Fitness has truly built its brand around being the “anti-gym,” making it a place free of “lunks,” meatheads, grunting and fad fitness classes. Thanks to its extremely low membership rate and some very witty advertisements, its goal of targeting the 85% of the population who are NOT fitness enthusiasts is clearly working. According to CEO, Chris Rondeau, Planet Fitness has “over 5 million members and is now the fastest-growing gym chain in the U.S.”

As far as branding goes, Planet Fitness has done a great job establishing its individuality and differentiating itself from other gym chains. I personally love the idea behind the brand because I think is something that we can all relate to as most of us have experienced a sense of uneasiness at the gym at least once in our lives. However as of late, a few of Planet Fitness’ tactics have been inconsistent with its “no judgment” branding and have sent mixed messages to its audience.

Lunk Alarm

Planet Fitness has trademarked the “Lunk Alarm” where employees can set off a siren throughout the gym when someone drops their weights or appears to be breathing too hard. Although this may be slightly comical to some, publically calling out or embarrassing someone for appearing to be working out to hard is not exactly consistent with the “judgment free zone.”

Too Toned

Just this week, a woman in California was asked to leave the gym because she was “intimidating people with her toned body.” According to a report from KTVU.com, the woman was asked to put a shirt on to cover her string tank top and while waiting for the t-shirt, she was approached by another staff member in regard to her body being intimidating. She proceeded to get her money back and cancel her membership.  For a place that boasts that it a “judgment free zone” where, “members can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms,” it appears that people are in fact being judge for based on their looks.

Pizza and Fitness?

According to a Business Insider article, Planet Fitness now offers pizza and bagel parties once a month for members. “Planet Fitness has mixed fitness with fun through its monthly pizza nights and a bagel breakfast on the second Tuesday of the Month.” Now, don’t get me wrong I LOVE pizza and like most, my motivation to workout is so that I can enjoy unhealthy foods without feeling guilty. However, for a place that is supposed to be a mecca for people to get healthy, it seems a little odd that they would promote unhealthy eating. Thinking about a person walking on a treadmill while eating pizza seems a little counterproductive.

Despite the branding and messaging issues, Planet Fitness has been able to appeal to a majority of Americans. However, I feel that they need to modify their branding strategy and ensure that employees are completely informed on how to stay within the “anti-gym” brand without discriminating against members.

What do you think of Planet Fitness’ recent tactics? Do you think their branding is brilliant or bogus? How do you think they will handle ironing out these branding and messaging issues?

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share

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