As 300 Planet Fitness locations across the country have reopened in the past week and a half, CEO Chris Rondeau says communicating clearly with employees, franchisees and members is a top priority to ensure everyone remains safe.
“The big piece I’m really focused on is on our staff and our team members who run our stores. Without them, we can’t execute,” Rondeau said.
Hampton-based Planet Fitness (NYSE: PLNT: $57.54) had more than 15.5 million members and 2,039 locations in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Mexico and Australia as of March 31, according to the company. More than 95 percent of the locations are owned and operated by franchisees.
The company has been hosting weekly town hall style remote meetings for its corporate staff members every Friday and meetings for franchisees once a week.
Planet Fitness locations in New Hampshire shut down on March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rondeau said the company had to furlough club staff members, so he voluntarily elected to forgo 100 percent of his base salary during the closures.
“I think it made sense for me to share in that with them, and I decided at corporate to cut some of my salary until we could get the clubs reopened,” Rondeau said. “I wanted to show by example that I was feeling that along with them.”
Planet Fitness President Dorvin Lively elected to take a 30% reduction in his base salary, according to an April 9 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Chief Financial Officer Thomas Fitzgerald and Chief Digital & Information Officer Craig Miller elected to take a 25% reduction in their base salaries.
In addition, the base salaries of other members of senior management were reduced in graduated amounts, according to the filing.
On March, 30, Rondeau said Planet Fitness was withdrawing its 2020 financial outlook but expected to be able to weather the disruption to its business caused by the pandemic.
“We entered 2020 in a very strong financial position, and have taken additional steps to proactively strengthen our financial liquidity and flexibility during these unprecedented times,” Rondeau said in a SEC filing. “We believe we have sufficient liquidity to carry us well beyond the end of this year, even in the event that clubs remain closed for the rest of 2020.”
Even though retailers, hair stylists and restaurants have reopened under strict guidelines, Gov. Chris Sununu’s stay-at-home order extends to May 31 so no gyms can be yet reopened.
Sununu is expected to make an announcement soon about allowing gyms to reopen. It has been suggested to the state task force that June 1 would be an appropriate date.
Rondeau thinks this pandemic will help people see how important their health and wellness is.
“I think people will walk away with a renewed sense of appreciation of being fit, being healthy. I would like to think that, moving forward, people will look at life a little differently,” Rondeau said Monday.
When people are allowed to return to Planet Fitness locations, they will be asked to follow “Social Fitnessing” requirements. Thumb’s up will be the new high five.
They will also be asked to be “Cleansiderate” and wipe down machines before and after usage.
Equipment is not being moved, but pieces of cardio equipment will be temporarily marked “out of use” to create distance between club members, said McCall Gosselin, senior vice president of communications at Planet Fitness.
There will be directional arrows on the ground to help facilitate “Social Fitnessing.” And masks will be required for employees.
“Our members are welcome to wear any personal protective equipment such as masks or gloves to the club if they feel more comfortable,” Gosselin said in a statement.