Planet Fitness's main competitors are Chili's and Uno's, CEO says

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Planet Fitness isn't known as a haven for super fit people and it's often the butt of jokes when it comes to fitness.

After all, the gym serves free pizza once a month and greets customers with free Tootsie Rolls at the front desk.

But that seems to be working. The fitness chain has seen its stock grow about 35% since it went public last year. Same-store sales have increased 7.6% and the chain boasts a whopping 1,206 locations.

Planet Fitness has created a successful business by catering to a very real, but specific, demographic: casual exercisers who know they have to work out, but don't necessarily want to.

That means its competition doesn't come in the form of fancy gyms. In fact, its main competition is greasy pizza.

"The first main competitors are honestly Chili's and Uno's and the movie theaters," Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau told Market Watch's Caitlin Huston recently.

It makes sense. Planet Fitness has to compete with those businesses for their customers' time, since that's probably where they'd rather be.

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"Other brands look at working out as a hobby, and I think personally that working out is a chore, and I believe most of America thinks of it the same way, they know they have to [but] they'd rather go to Chili's and have a beer and have some chips and salsa, but you know, you have to, you don't want to, so you kind of wince your way throughout. And I think most of Americans think this way," Rondeau told Business Insider last fall.

Burning some calories a few times a month, he said at the time, is "better than nothing."

At Planet Fitness, working out is relatively cheap. A basic membership costs $10, and a "black" membership, which entitles you to visit other franchises and use the tanning stations and massage chairs, is $19.99, plus a $20 initiation fee. There are no chic classes and no free weights above eighty pounds. A "lunk alarm" goes off if people exert themselves too loudly. The company boasts a "judgment free" philosophy.

The gym, Rondeau said, is for the people who say, "I've got to work out and get in shape before I join a gym."

"I think it's really cool who we're going after," he said.

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