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Planet Fitness Owner Scott Lyons is committed to making his gym approachable and to training members how to use the equipment. Photos by Madoline Markham.
Scott Lyons is about making fitness realistic. His gyms offer fitness equipment appropriate for first time gym users — and for only $10 a month.
“We don’t cater to body builders,” said the Planet Fitness owner and franchisee, “but are geared toward regular folks who want to get in shape. Anyone can come in and feel comfortable in our gym.”
The Hoover Planet Fitness, located off Highway 31 in Riverchase, hosts 85 pieces of Life Fitness and Cybex cardio equipment: treadmills, elliptical machines and bicycles. Even with close to 6,000 members at the Hoover location, there is a machine for everyone. The machines do not have time limits or sign-up sheets.
“That’s why we put 80-100 pieces in each location, so that there is no waiting,” Lyons said.
Twenty-two 60-inch TVs hang alongside the cardio equipment to keep members entertained while they work out, and a giant fan above each area ensures the air is cool and circulating.
In addition to use of cardio equipment, members have access to prefitness training in small groups of no more than five people. Twice a day members can meet with a fitness instructor to design an individual program based on their needs. There are also 30-minute sessions each day that target individual muscle groups: chest, back, abs, arms, legs or shoulders.
In back left of the 18,500-square-foot Planet Fitness space is a 30-minute workout area. There, members can engage in a circuit workout rotating between different resistance machines and steps on a bench to raise heart rate. A special red light/green light switches regularly to keep the time for each station.
“You burn more calories doing circuit than regular resistance because you are keeping your heart rate elevated the whole time,” Lyons said.
The gym also features tanning beds, locker rooms and areas for stretching and ab work.
The Hoover Planet Fitness is one of 600 locations; the chain is the fastest growing franchisor of full-size fitness clubs in the country. Another 120 are scheduled to open in 2013. But Lyons didn’t just acquire the business because of its success.
“I got in it because I was working out a lot and wanted a certain type of place to work out,” he said.
Tuscaloosa, where Lyons lived at the time, didn’t have that type of place. That’s when he opened his first facility.
“I have stayed in this business because it is a positive atmosphere. People come in and they feel better.”
Lyons’ tip for getting in shape for the New Year is in keeping with the philosophy of Planet Fitness.
“Start slow and build on that,” he said. “I’d rather someone workout two days a week the first month, then three days a week the next, and four days a week the next. It’s better than if you say you will come four days a week at first and then are not able to do it.”
Memberships are $10 per month. The enrollment fee is $10 for the start of the year but varies by time of year. A $19.99 Black Card membership includes unlimited guest privileges, reciprocal use at other Planet Fitness locations, unlimited tanning, use of the massage chairs and half price on cooler drinks.