The nationwide “judgment free” health franchise, Planet Fitness, is slated to open a new location Feb. 15 in the former Hastings Entertainment Inc. building, 654 N. Third St., franchise owner David Leon said.
“We’ve done very well in rural areas,” Leon said, adding he recently opened a Planet Fitness in Panama. “What we’ve found is that people in these areas don’t like the theory of a muscle-head gym.”
After selling several franchises on the East Coast, Leon said he moved his business west because Wyoming and Montana were the last states left undeveloped by franchise owners.
“My love for the outdoors, and my love for this brand brought me out here,” he said.
A former body builder who competed in the Mr. America contest, Leon said he bought into the franchise in 2004.
“One of the things I’m really proud of with this brand is not only have we cut costs, which has transferred through the industry,” he said. “But we’ve raised standards. Clean clubs are now an expectation, not a surprise.”
While Planet Fitness typically does not usually open gyms in cities around the 30,000 population range, Leon said he was excited to bring the business to Laramie, in part because of the University of Wyoming.
“We’ve done really well when we go to college towns with high student population and high faculty,” he said. “This is a nice little town. I’m pretty impressed with these small areas.”
With Pizza Fridays, Bagel Tuesdays and the franchise’s token lunk alarm, Leon said Laramie’s new Planet Fitness will live up to the franchise motto “The world judges. We don’t.”
“We don’t cater to heavy bodybuilders, weight lifters or aerobic queens — we cater to first-time gym users,” he said. “The lunk alarm and siren goes off for somebody being disrespectful, dressing inappropriate, spitting, swearing — doing anything that’s going to either intimidate others or judge others.”
The gym is slated to install 30 55-inch TVs along the north wall, and each piece of cardio equipment could come with its own TV, Leon said. The design space emphasizes spacious locker rooms with four showers and about 150 lockers each. A portion of the gym is slated simply for amenities such as tanning and hydrotherapy, and members will have access to the health drinks bar, he said.
Open 24-hours on weekdays and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekends, Leon said Planet Fitness will have certified trainers on a regular schedule to help members with fitness education.
While the gym could have up to 400 pieces of equipment, the free weights portion will be limited to dumbbells under 75 pounds, Leon said.
“We don’t have squat racks, we don’t have bench presses, we don’t have Olympic bars, because those really welcome heavy lifters,” he added. “We don’t want those power lifters that are going to intimidate or interfere with someone’s quest for a healthy lifestyle.”
If applicants sign up for a membership at Planet Fitness before Jan. 31, Leon said their membership fee would $10 a month for the first 12 months.
“People won’t cancel their memberships even if they don’t use it, because they like being part of the club,” he said.
Go to www.planetfitness.com for more information about memberships.