Planet Fitness CEO says gym membership has almost reached its pre-Covid peak

Membership at Planet Fitness gyms has nearly returned to its pre-pandemic peak, CEO Chris Rondeau told CNBC on Thursday, illustrating people’s eagerness to exercise outside of their home.

In an interview on “Mad Money,” Rondeau said the gym chain now has 15 million members, describing that figure as “unbelievable” after locations were shuttered for months early during the Covid crisis and then even when they reopened, many people were hesitant to return right away.

“Our height was 15.5 [million members]. We’re 97% all the way recaptured back to where we were pre-Covid,” Rondeau said.

Rondeau’s comments came after Planet Fitness shares surged 11.7% Thursday to close at $92.25, hitting a record high during the session. Investors cheered the company’s strong third-quarter financial results, which contained Planet Fitness’ first earnings beat since the fourth quarter of 2019.

Total revenue of $154.3 million was up 46.4% compared with the same period last year, when the pandemic weighed heavily. Planet Fitness also raised full-year guidance on a number of metrics, including revenue and new store openings.

“We saw the highest third quarter net member growth in company history,” Rondeau said. “People are choosing bricks and mortar. They’re coming back faster than we’ve ever seen. They’re rejoining our clubs faster than we’ve ever seen. The Gen Z’s are joining faster than we’ve ever seen. All the winds are blowing the right direction, and the sails are wide open.”

After Thursday’s closing bell, Peloton posted a wider-than-expected loss in its fiscal first quarter, along with revenue that fell short of Wall Street’s estimates. Shares of the fitness bike maker, which benefited mightily during the pandemic, fell more than 25% in after-hours trading.

Peloton’s results come against the backdrop of people returning to gyms like Planet Fitness.

“I never waivered. Me and my team, the franchisees, we knew once we got on the other side of this, people are going to gravitate back [to gyms],” he said. He added, “We’re definitely stronger now on the other side of this, and our moat is even that much wider.”

(With inputs from CNBC)