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What Now Atlanta: Planet Fitness Muscles Up across Atlanta Despite Pandemic

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Fitness leader opens 25th Georgia location, eyes retail space opportunities and more submarket expansion.

While many fitness centers shuttered across the country, the retail victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, one fitness center, Planet Fitness, continued to expand, opening and scouting brick-and-mortar locations across Atlanta.

According to IHRSA, the fitness industry trade association, 22 percent of fitness centers closed across the country. Planet Fitness not only didn’t close a single location nationally, it opened new locations and is continuing to scout new ones.

This November in Lithonia, Alder Partners LLC, one of the largest Planet Fitness franchisees in the Southeast, opened at 6152 Covington Highway.

“Lithonia is our 25th location in Georgia and we continue to see demand for our unique and affordable judgment-free fitness offering, which is why we’re seeking more locations around metro Atlanta,” said Kass Litwin McInnis, Alder’s Director of Development.

Planet Fitness emerged during the pandemic as the go-to, clean, affordable and judgment-free place to catch a safe workout and get out of the house for some exercise.

Planet Fitness quickly pivoted during the pandemic, becoming an early adopter of enhanced Covid-19 safety protocols and streaming workouts with none other than Hawks basketball team mascot Harry the Hawk. The local success of the chain has been driven in part by key partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club, the Hawks basketball team and the Atlanta United soccer team.

But Planet Fitness also found a demand for its “open 24/7 and come as you are” concept.

McInnis says the fitness brand is flexible in terms of the kind of space it needs. “We can make various types of real estate work, from power and neighborhood centers to mixed use developments and stand-alone buildings,” she said. “And we’re a benefit to landlords because we drive foot traffic which brings more people to other businesses and the shopping center as a whole.”

Alder is working with Franklin Street’s Greg Eisenman and his Retail Tenant Services team, to find new locations. Success for the fitness company can come from creative lease agreements, including snapping up space from larger retail footprints looking to downsize. “Planet Fitness can be a good fit for former big box stores like Stein Mart or Office Depot,” Eisenman said.

With 34 clubs in Georgia and Massachusetts, Alder is a family-owned Planet Fitness development partner that opened its first Atlanta location in 2011.

“Greater Atlanta is a ripe market for opening new locations, boosted by ideal demographics, available retail space and a return to pre-pandemic usage at its clubs,” McInnis said.

Read more here from What Now Atlanta

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