From the moment you step into the newest gym in Reading, there’s no doubt you have entered a Planet Fitness.
More than 100 pieces of equipment are emblazoned with the chain’s purple and yellow logo. Bottled water available near the front desk is branded with the Planet Fitness name. Franchise owner Taylor Mandell even wears a violet shirt as he gives a tour of the facility, though he swears the color choice is purely coincidental.
“They’re great colors,” Mandell said. “I love the branding. My heart belongs to Planet Fitness.”
These brightly colored gyms — and their enthusiastic fans — have become an increasingly common sight in recent years, as the Newington, N.H.-based Planet Fitness continues its rapid expansion across the country. At the end of 2008, the chain operated at 242 locations; today the count is 636, an increase of more than 160 percent. In Massachusetts, new Planet Fitness franchises have opened recently in Reading, Andover, and Shrewsbury.
Company executives, franchise owners, and members all say the key to that growth is the unusual environment inside Planet Fitness facilities. The company aims to serve people who have never belonged to a gym, promising them a “judgment-free zone,” where behavior that might intimidate workout novices — grunting, posing, dropping weights — is strictly prohibited.
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