BERLIN — New Hampshire-based Planet Fitness — home of the “Judgement Free Zone” — celebrated the grand opening of a new location at the Berlin Mall.
On Jan. 22, the company hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 282 Berlin Mall Road fitness center, with a $2,000 check donation to the Washington County Youth Service Bureau and Boys & Girls Club.
The mall location will occupy 15,000 square feet of newly renovated space, located at the mall’s main entrance. The space was formerly occupied by Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts before it relocated to West Lebanon, New Hampshire, several years ago.
“We have been thrilled by the positive response to our new location in Berlin and appreciate the warm welcome that we have received from local residents,” said Richard Childs, director of Corporate Club Operations at Planet Fitness. “It’s great to see that our affordable, high-quality, and non-intimidating fitness experience resonates with the central Vermont community.”
The new facility boasts more than 150 pieces of equipment, with the latest in cardiovascular fitness machines and strength equipment, the 30-Minute Express Circuit, locker rooms with day lockers and showers, including flat-screen televisions, HydroMassage beds, massage chairs, tanning beds, a Total Body Enhancement booth, free weights, and more.
For a limited time, the facility will offer new memberships for $1 down and then $10 a month, with no commitment through Jan. 31.
“We’re thrilled to bring our new Judgement Free fitness experience to Berlin, and we encourage everyone to come check out the new club, meet our friendly staff, get a tour and see what the Judgement Free Zone is all about,” Childs said.
A local competitor, First in Fitness, on Granger Road in Berlin, say they’re not fazed by new competition in Planet Fitness.
First in Fitness owner Mike Woodfield said the gym offers a “very different range of services other than workout spaces” that distinguishes his company from Planet Fitness.
“We are the only club in the area that offers a multi-faceted fitness and recreation experience,” Woodfield said. “Of course, we offer all that you expect to find at a gym — cardio equipment, strength-training machines and free-weight equipment. That is just the beginning — we also have a six-lane pool, hot tub, racquetball, basketball, a functional training center and four indoor tennis courts.”
In total, First in Fitness is over 50,000 square feet, Woodfield said, which allows a wide variety of group exercise classes with membership options.
“Our staff is committed to personal service for our members and guests,” he said. “We employ over 40 full- and part-time staff — front desk, personal trainers, group exercise instructors, water-safety instructors, lifeguards, tennis pros, managers, maintenance and cleaning crew. Some of the services we offer include personal training, swim lessons and tennis lessons. We also offer on-site physical therapy with our partner Choice Physical Therapy.”
Woodfield said a number of longtime members signed up when First in Fitness opened in 1975.
“We are proud to serve a diverse cross section of the local community, both demographically and in recreational interests. We have been locally owned and operated all that time,” Woodfield said.
Berlin Mall LLC, the owner of Berlin Mall, has signed a long-term lease with Planet Fitness, one of the region’s fastest-growing franchises and operators of fitness centers in the U.S.
As of Sept. 30, Planet Fitness boasted 10.5 million members and 1,432 storesin 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic.
Founded in 1992 in Dover, New Hampshire, the company reports more than 95 percent of Planet Fitness centers are owned and operated by independent owners.
Berlin Mall marks the fourth Planet Fitness franchise in Vermont, in addition to locations in Essex Junction, South Burlington and St. Albans.
“We’ve conducted an extensive search to find the right tenant for this high-profile space and provide central Vermont residents with a meaningful, value-priced service retailer,” said Ken Simon, vice president of Heidenberg Properties Group. “What’s more, Planet Fitness has stimulated renewed interest from complementary tenants such as Supercuts, which has recently signed a new lease at the mall.”
Berlin Mall LLC purchased the mall in 2010, and in 2012 received Act 250 and local zoning approval to expand Walmart to a Walmart Supercentre. In addition to JC Penney, the mall added a third department store when Kohl’s opened in March 2016.
The 250,000-square-foot enclosed mall opened in 1986 and is nearly 100 percent occupied.
“The addition of Planet Fitness, and community events like Walk the Long Trail at Berlin Mall, further our goals of revitalizing the mall property, creating good local jobs, and providing residents and visitors in the area with a positive shopping experience,” said Mall Manager Gerry Hanifin.