Chris Rondeau: CEO of Planet Fitness

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Bio:

Chris became CEO in January 2013, after serving as the brand’s Chief Operating Officer since 2003. One of Planet Fitness’ original founders joining the company in 1993, Rondeau played a critical role in developing the unique, low-cost / high-value business model and lean operating systems that has revolutionized both the fitness and franchising industry. Still today, Planet Fitness is the only health club in the industry that prides itself on creating a non-intimidating, affordable environment for first time or occasional gym users.

Rondeau, an entrepreneur at heart, started working at age 14 managing a family-owned chain of drugstores throughout New England before working at what became the first Planet Fitness at age 19. Rondeau attended the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. He enjoys fishing, spending time with friends and vacationing in Florida with his wife and four children.

1) How did you get into the health and wellness industry?

I started to workout in high school and always liked it, so it was a natural fit from the start for me to get involved in the industry. As I started to get a bit older, I began to look at it as more of a chore than a hobby. That’s when I worked with Planet Fitness co-founders, Mike and Marc Grondahl, to come up with the business model designed for those who look at going to the gym as something they have to do, not necessarily want to do. We wanted to create an environment that was non-intimidating for the first time and occasional gym goer. That’s how we came up with the Judgement Free Zone, so people wouldn’t feel judged on their skill level or how often they made it to the gym.  

2) What marketing/branding strategies have you implemented which you find most successful?

We use a layering strategy using a mutli-channel approach through advertising on radio, TV, direct mail and digital, in addition to public relations. Using humor in our ads has always benefited us because everyday people can relate. We have also been successful by illustrating areas of our brand that are different than other fitness clubs, while highlighting the benefits of being a member and our high value/low cost model.   

3) The most important traits in becoming a successful CEO are...

Gaining the respect and admiration from people within the organization so they drive to satisfy the demands of the company and bring the vision to life. In addition, having employees believe in the same vision you have is key.

4) What is your life motto?

There are so many things in life that you can’t control. Therefore, you must control everything you actually have the ability to control.

5) If there were one food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

Steak and beer.

6) What is your daily fitness regime?

30 Minutes 4 – 5 days a week. In the summer I do more cardio and also run outside.

7) Who is your mentor?

I learned so much from my father in the early years . He owned a chain of drugstores in New England, and I got my drive and motivation to succeed from him. One of the founders of Planet Fitness, Mike Grondahl, has also been a great mentor to me throughout my years at PF and in becoming CEO.

8) What's next for Planet Fitness?

To date, we are operating nearly 800 clubs. We are really looking forward to reaching the 1,000th clubs mark. Currently, Planet Fitness is the fastest-growing full size health club franchise in the United States.

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Founded in 1992 in Dover, N.H., Planet Fitness is now the fastest-growing full size health club franchise in the United States, and has revolutionized the industry with a combination of extremely low prices and a unique, friendly, and hassle-free environment called the Judgement Free Zone®.

Planet Fitness has more than 750 locations nationwide and has grown to more than 5 million members. The company prides itself on giving people an unbeatable value, top-notch facilities, and an atmosphere that focuses on the needs of occasional or first-time gym users rather than hard-core fitness fanatics. All Planet Fitness clubs feature a wide selection of brand-name cardio and strength equipment, and provide unlimited fitness instruction with all memberships.

Planet Fitness is a national brand partner of NBC’s The Biggest Loser®. For more information visit www.PlanetFitness.com.