The Rise and Fall of Planet Fitness (PLNT)

Christian DeHaemer

Written By Christian DeHaemer

Posted March 26, 2024

The Rise and Fall of Planet Fitness (PLNT)

When I first saw a Planet Fitness commercial, I thought this was great – a low-cost gym that caters to people who need it and makes them feel welcome.  What could be better?

Then I started hearing about how the gym banned squat racks and free weights in an attempt to stop gym bros from showing up.  They also had donuts on Saturday mornings and pizza nights,  which seems contrary to a good diet.

How Much Do You Bench?

There is a line in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon’s character, the tough Southie, asks Robin Williams’s character if he uses Nautilus or something like that, and the older man says no, free weights.  The implication is that stronger, independent men who are in shape use free weights.  Wussies use machines.  And if you’ve ever been to a gym you realize this rings true. The muscular people are on the bench press and using the squat rack.

I remember reading an article about Planet Fitness in Men’s Health or someplace similar.  What we all thought was stupid and ridiculous, and wouldn’t benefit those seeking to be healthier, was actually an excellent system for extracting money from the undisciplined. 

You see, the biggest expense of a gym is the customers. People show up, wear out the equipment, throw their towels around and increase the need for staffing.  Owners need to hire people to clean it and spend money to replace the ellipticals.

The logical goal of a gym owner who wants to maximize profits is to sell memberships and have people not show up.  And that’s what they did.  They catered to people who were out of shape but needed a gym membership to assuage their guilt.  Ten bucks a month will grant a modern indulgence to the morbidly obese.

These undedicated customers showed up once or twice and then continued to pay every month as they sat on their couches and told themselves they would go back next week.  Planet Fitness also makes it almost impossible to quit, requiring multiple steps and paperwork all of which (according to online accounts) were delayed by red tape.   “Well, it’s only $10, we will deal with it next month,” the couch sitters tell themselves.

From its IPO in 2015, to the top in 2022, the stock went on a great run from $10 to the mid-$90s.  The company rode through the tribulations of COVID-19 lockdowns when gyms were closed, but came back strong due to rapid expansion.  

Since 2022 however, the share price has been in a decided downturn putting in lower highs and lower lows which is the definition of a bear market.


More recently PLNT made the news and took a big stock hit due to its woke policy on men in the female restroom.  

A woman walked into a female locker room to find a man shaving – not his face – and a girl of about 12 in a towel looking very uncomfortable.  She videoed the incident and complained to the management.  They canceled the woman’s membership for being a bigot and breaking the rules.

This is just the latest in a string of questionable acts by the company causing an eruption of negative posts on social media as people seek to give the company the Bud Light treatment.

Planet Fitness has a Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio of 36 and a market cap of $5.09 billion.  Its profit margins are about 12% and quarterly revenue growth was a lackluster 4%.  They also have $2.4 billion of debt which I assume will be rolled over at a much higher rate.

The upshot of this is that you should stay away from Planet Fitness as an investment and a gym.


All the best,

Christian DeHaemer