In the 2004 film “Dodgeball,” Vince Vaughn leads the lovable losers from his “Average Joe’s” gym to victory over the muscle-bound hulks from Ben Stiller’s fearsome “Globo Gym.” And now such drama is playing itself out in the real-life fitness market. Once again, a low-cost, low-pressure health club is scoring impressive victories for itself and for those of us who prefer our physical self-improvement to be more average than agonizing. In fact, the growth of the Planet Fitness chain recently inspired a high-powered Wall Street banker to take on the Vince Vaughn role.
By last spring, Kevin Fagan knew that it was time to leave Wall Street. After a successful 14-year career in corporate finance, he no longer looked forward to going to work in the morning. “I said to my boss, ‘We’ve got to get me out of here.’ ” Mr. Fagan retired from banking in July, but, not even 40, he was eager to try something new. He kept thinking of a chance meeting a few years earlier, when a friend introduced him to Planet Fitness founder Mike Grondahl. Impressed, Mr. Fagan began following the company as it grew beyond its New England base.
The low-key Planet Fitness gyms, billed as “judgment-free zones,” aren’t staffed by the kind of hyperactive trainer that Mr. Stiller plays. While his character suggested a diet of “protein paste, carb laxatives and suffocated kumquat,” Planet Fitness offers free pizza and bagels once a month.
Logo from Planet Fitness.