Months after opening a Planet Fitness in Helena, Dave Leon of Albany, New York, says he’s bringing the New Hampshire-based franchise to Butte in addition to four other new locations throughout the state.
Leon, who has been a franchise owner with Planet Fitness since 2004, told The Montana Standard by phone Wednesday he’s in the process of bidding on two properties in the Mining City, one of which is the old Hastings books and music store, 2307 Harrison Ave. He declined to name the other potential location but said both properties were between 20,000 and 23,000 square feet.
Should everything go according to plan, Leon said, the Butte Planet Fitness should open January 2018 and be similar to the Helena location, which boasts more than 100 cardio machines among other fitness equipment.
The gym will employ 20 to 25 people — with four full-time employees and one manager — and will be open 24 hours a day Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Leon said.
Basic memberships will be $10 per month while “Black Card” memberships will be $21.99 per month and include access to tanning, massage, and hydrotherapy among other amenities. All members will have free access to certified instructors.
Leon also has locations planned for Great Falls, Billings, Bozeman, and Missoula; the latter is slated to open in 30 days.
He said he was hesitant at first to open in smaller markets like Helena and Butte, but so far the Helena Planet Fitness has been generating interest and given him confidence that a Butte location can be successful.
A 30-year veteran of the fitness industry, Leon plans on relocating to the Big Sky State. He said he’s always loved the pristine landscapes and wide open spaces of Montana and is an avid outdoorsman.
Leon has a development agreement with Planet Fitness for a territory that includes Wyoming and Montana, and he also has current and planned locations in Colorado and North Dakota.
It may seem like a risk to dive headfirst into franchise ownership, but this isn’t Leon’s first time at the rodeo when it comes to owning Planet Fitness locations.
“(The intermountain west) is a market I’ve been working on for three years,” said Leon, who owned 20 franchises in New York, which he has since sold in order to embark on his new enterprise.
Leon said when he started working with Planet Fitness in 2004, the company had just nine locations and was an industry outlier. It offered a “judgment free” atmosphere that was open to people of all shapes and sizes. Instead of juice bars and body builders, Leon said, Planet Fitness was filled with mere mortals — mothers, grandmothers, and everyone in between.
“It was an unusual model,” Leon said, noting that the company managed to tap into a niche market and now has over 1,300 locations.
“We go after first-time fitness users,” Leon said. “We’ve created a very comfortable, non-intimidating environment.”
“The world judges you. We don’t at Planet Fitness,” he continued, staying on brand with the company credo.
He added that Planet Fitness extends its company culture to its charitable efforts.
Last year the company gave $1.5 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and has collaborated with the organization on an anti-bullying campaign called the “Judgment Free Generation.” Leon said he makes contributions to local chapters in areas where he owns gyms.