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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

Life lessons: Chris RondeauCEO, Planet Fitness

At times I’ve felt like the underdog

Published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 5
Chris Rondeau / photo: Bill Truslow
Chris Rondeau / photo: Bill Truslow
For the first decade we worked every day, lived pay cheque to pay cheque while we tried to figure out the business

My overarching life lesson has been learning the value of hard work. I dropped out of college at 20 and took the school of hard knocks route. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school or graduate with a big degree and I didn’t read my first book until I was 42-years-old.

I started at the front desk of the gym and worked my way up through the ranks. It has felt like a 30-year college degree and I’m still learning now.

At times I’ve felt like the underdog and I’ve had to play catch up. My business partners and I were not the most sophisticated bunch, but we had great passion and we believed in the model. When we got to 500 locations we were like “this is a big company, we can’t just run it like three gym guys anymore.” So in November 2012 we brought in private equity. That was a big step forward and I learned a lot from them.

Then one of the partners retired and I was elevated from COO to CEO and all of a sudden we were doing budgets and I’d never done those before. Three years later we went public, which was another learning curve.

Around 2016, a year or two after the IPO this started to change. I was meeting with well educated, super smart people – all the investors and analysts who ask good (and tough) questions and I realised there wasn’t a question I couldn’t answer off the tip of my tongue. No matter how smart and well educated they were, no one knew the business better than I did. That’s when my confidence level rose and any doubts stopped.

Building strengths
It’s a strength that I’ve worked in all parts of the club. I’ve worked the front desk, been a trainer, a manager, a regional manager, COO and CEO. I understand the trials and tribulations of staff and how to engage members, as well as how to do all the day-to-day stuff, such as checking members in and billing. I love working in the gyms.

Pre-COVID I used to work the front desk once a quarter because I’d learn things about making the jobs easier for our staff, or the experience better for members.

If I could go back and change things, I don’t think I would. It’s been very tough, but we now have more than 2,400 locations in six countries and 17 million members and are still driving membership growth. The drive and underdog mentality made me work that much harder. If I’d taken another route I might not be where I am now: we could have been a few years later in developing our model and someone else might have got the opportunity before us.

Although I wasn’t much for education when I was growing up, if I could give my younger self some advice, I’d say pay attention at school – especially in business class – and read more books. The learning curve throughout my career has definitely been a struggle at times. For the first decade we worked every day, lived pay cheque to pay cheque and had credit card debt while we tried to figure out the business. Luckily, with passion and hard work it all worked out!

Planet Fitness has grown to 2,400 clubs and 17 millon members / photo: Planet Fitness
Planet Fitness has grown to 2,400 clubs and 17 millon members / photo: Planet Fitness
/ photo: Planet Fitness
Once Rondeau reached 500 locations, a decision was made to bring in private equity / photo: Planet Fitness
Once Rondeau reached 500 locations, a decision was made to bring in private equity / photo: Planet Fitness
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2023/269681_478478.jpg
The CEO of Planet Fitness tells how he overcame feelings of being an underdog to reach the top of the industry
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features

Life lessons: Chris RondeauCEO, Planet Fitness

At times I’ve felt like the underdog

Published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 5
Chris Rondeau / photo: Bill Truslow
Chris Rondeau / photo: Bill Truslow
For the first decade we worked every day, lived pay cheque to pay cheque while we tried to figure out the business

My overarching life lesson has been learning the value of hard work. I dropped out of college at 20 and took the school of hard knocks route. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school or graduate with a big degree and I didn’t read my first book until I was 42-years-old.

I started at the front desk of the gym and worked my way up through the ranks. It has felt like a 30-year college degree and I’m still learning now.

At times I’ve felt like the underdog and I’ve had to play catch up. My business partners and I were not the most sophisticated bunch, but we had great passion and we believed in the model. When we got to 500 locations we were like “this is a big company, we can’t just run it like three gym guys anymore.” So in November 2012 we brought in private equity. That was a big step forward and I learned a lot from them.

Then one of the partners retired and I was elevated from COO to CEO and all of a sudden we were doing budgets and I’d never done those before. Three years later we went public, which was another learning curve.

Around 2016, a year or two after the IPO this started to change. I was meeting with well educated, super smart people – all the investors and analysts who ask good (and tough) questions and I realised there wasn’t a question I couldn’t answer off the tip of my tongue. No matter how smart and well educated they were, no one knew the business better than I did. That’s when my confidence level rose and any doubts stopped.

Building strengths
It’s a strength that I’ve worked in all parts of the club. I’ve worked the front desk, been a trainer, a manager, a regional manager, COO and CEO. I understand the trials and tribulations of staff and how to engage members, as well as how to do all the day-to-day stuff, such as checking members in and billing. I love working in the gyms.

Pre-COVID I used to work the front desk once a quarter because I’d learn things about making the jobs easier for our staff, or the experience better for members.

If I could go back and change things, I don’t think I would. It’s been very tough, but we now have more than 2,400 locations in six countries and 17 million members and are still driving membership growth. The drive and underdog mentality made me work that much harder. If I’d taken another route I might not be where I am now: we could have been a few years later in developing our model and someone else might have got the opportunity before us.

Although I wasn’t much for education when I was growing up, if I could give my younger self some advice, I’d say pay attention at school – especially in business class – and read more books. The learning curve throughout my career has definitely been a struggle at times. For the first decade we worked every day, lived pay cheque to pay cheque and had credit card debt while we tried to figure out the business. Luckily, with passion and hard work it all worked out!

Planet Fitness has grown to 2,400 clubs and 17 millon members / photo: Planet Fitness
Planet Fitness has grown to 2,400 clubs and 17 millon members / photo: Planet Fitness
/ photo: Planet Fitness
Once Rondeau reached 500 locations, a decision was made to bring in private equity / photo: Planet Fitness
Once Rondeau reached 500 locations, a decision was made to bring in private equity / photo: Planet Fitness
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2023/269681_478478.jpg
The CEO of Planet Fitness tells how he overcame feelings of being an underdog to reach the top of the industry
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Sport England’s This Girl Can team has launched a new campaign, Let’s Get Out There, ...
Latest News
Improving physical strength and fitness, mental health and confidence are the main reasons for joining ...
Latest News
Speaking to HCM, global CEO of Lift Brands, Ty Menzies, has confirmed that the company ...
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Planet Fitness has announced the repurchase of 314,000 shares at a rate of US$20 million. ...
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Xponential Fitness today indefinitely suspended founder and CEO, Anthony Geisler, saying it had been notified ...
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Featured supplier news: Group exercise complaints now a thing of the past for Reynolds Group
Complaints about group exercise have become a thing of the past for the Reynolds Group thanks to its partnership with CoverMe, a digital platform that simplifies group exercise and PT management for clubs and instructors.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Sue Anstiss' Game Changers podcast headed for Elevate 2024
Join us at Elevate from 12-13 June in London for a special one-off live recording of The Game Changers Podcast with Sue Anstiss, CEO of Fearless Women.
Company profiles
Company profile: TVS Group
The TVS Group supply and install sports and fitness flooring to a wide range of ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Keiser UK LTD
For more than four decades, Keiser has influenced the training of athletes, fitness enthusiasts and ...
Supplier Showcase
Supplier showcase - Jon Williams
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Perfect Gym press release: PerfectGym joins Sport Alliance
Sport Alliance, a Hamburg-based provider of innovative software solutions and services to gyms and fitness suites, has announced the acquisition of PerfectGym, the international software provider to fitness and leisure businesses.
Featured press releases
Greenwich Leisure Limited press release: GLL fitness instructor smashes World Record
Anthony Bryan, a fitness instructor at GLL’s Southbury Leisure Centre, recently took part in the London Marathon.
Directory
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
salt therapy products
Saltability: salt therapy products
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
Property & Tenders
Grantham, Leicestershire
Belvoir Castle
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
23-24 May 2024
Large Hall of the Chamber of Commerce (Erbprinzenpalais), Wiesbaden, Germany
Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
08-08 Jun 2024
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
11-13 Jun 2024
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
12-13 Jun 2024
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-05 Sep 2024
IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
Diary dates
22-25 Oct 2024
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
24-24 Oct 2024
QEII Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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