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(Photo: Planet Fitness)
(Photo: Planet Fitness)


When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was going to banish the “Tale of Two Cities,” did that include gym memberships?

Planet Fitness New York (PFNY), the five-borough franchise of the national low-budget gym brand known for charging just $10 per month, announced last week that it’s expanding across the city in big ways this year. And many of its new locations—like in Union Square and Tribeca—will be located right in the heart of boutique fitness-saturated neighborhoods, where fitness enthusiasts often pay more than triple that price for one 45-minute workout class.

There’s demand for both, though, says PFNY CEO Jeff Innocenti, they’re just targeting different consumers: “The 12 to 15 percent who are workout enthusiasts, those are the people that all of the other gyms are vying for. Where we come in as Planet Fitness and say, ‘we don’t even want to focus on that group.’ We’d love to have them, but our focus is on the 85 percent who don’t typically workout,” he explains (citing numbers provided by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association).

(Photo: Planet Fitness)
(Photo: Planet Fitness)


Planet Fitness has honed in on that affordability factor: “If you think about health clubs five or eight years ago, a lot of people couldn’t afford them. But for ten bucks a month, everybody’s able to afford that,” says Innocenti. And the company has famously focused on eliminating the factors that may intimidate gym newbies, like lots of people doing perfect choreographed dance cardio (no classes) and grunting muscle dudes (no “lunks”).

It’s apparently working, as PFNY expects to open about a dozen more clubs over the next year, in Union Square, Tribeca, one across from Madison Square Garden, and many in Brooklyn. (And other low-budget brands, like Blink Fitness, are similarly thriving.)

Of course, the fact that people often forget they have memberships because they don’t notice the monthly $10 debit presumably helps the company, too. (Guilty.)

And occasionally, even upper-crust fitness enthusiasts find reason to sign up, hence the recent opening of a club on Wall Street (yup). “We get a lot of people that belong to other clubs but if their club is crowded or closed, we’re open 24–7, and they can come run on a treadmill anytime.” And perhaps get a glimpse at how the other half sweats? —Lisa Elaine Held

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