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NH's Planet Fitness marks 25 years in business

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

September 13. 2017 11:56PM
Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau cuts the ribbon with Robert Carrier and Sarah Greenshields during a grand reopening Wednesday morning at the company's first location in downtown Dover. Carrier and Greenshields are on the Dover City Council. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

DOVER — Planet Fitness celebrated its 25th anniversary Wednesday morning by donating $25,000 to a trust fund for the new Dover High School and Regional Career Technical Center.

From the gym on Central Avenue, which the company opened in 1992, CEO Chris Rondeau talked about how much the company has grown from that first gym into a franchise powerhouse that now has 1,300 locations. Rondeau said a welcoming environment and low monthly rates have helped the company succeed.

“The affordability of the $10 membership is truly getting people off the couch and making them healthier,” Rondeau told the crowd before a ribbon cutting for a grand reopening.

Rondeau said it was a natural decision to make the donation.

“We felt like we owed it to the community here, where we started. We came up with this great business model, to give back with a $25,000 donation for the school district made sense,” Rondeau said.

Deputy Mayor Robert Carrier, who serves on the high school’s joint building committee, said the donation officially kicks off the committee’s fundraising campaign.

“This is the stepping stone for the rest of the community to say, ‘We can help out also,’” Carrier said before thanking Rondeau for the money.

Dover High School Principal Peter Driscoll said the school is designed to be a community building, and they really want to form relationships with businesses and nonprofits so everyone can benefit from the new 330,000-square-foot, $87.5 million facility.

Dover resident Jim Dunn, a Planet Fitness member for 25 years, said the company has always quietly given back to the local communities they serve. Dunn is a former longtime football coach, and said when the gym updates its equipment it donates the older equipment to the high schools for students to use. On the Seacoast, schools in Dover, Somersworth, Portsmouth and Durham have received donated equipment for their weight rooms, Dunn said.

Commercial fisherman Karl Day of Eliot, Maine, has also been a member for 25 years and said Planet Fitness gyms have a community feel, and attributes that to its success.

“You come in, it’s kind of like Cheers,” Day said. “It is really comfortable for everyone. A lot of people are intimidated by going to a gym, and when you come in here, it’s relaxed. You work out as hard as you want.”

Planet Fitness opened its new world headquarters in Hampton this summer. The franchise has 1,300 locations in 48 states and the District of Columbia. There are gyms in Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic. Plans are to open a gym in Panama this year.


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