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One gym is taking the workout world by storm

Tina Wadhwa
Planet Fitness

(Planet Fitness dancers perform on treadmills outside the New York Stock Exchange after the company's IPOAP/Richard Drew)
Planet Fitness, the low-cost fitness center known for its motivational mottos, is taking the nation by storm.

In 2006, Planet Fitness was the most popular gym search on Google in 7 states, mostly in the Northeast. Now, Planet Fitness is #1 in 40 states and #1 nationally, according to a note by Macquarie Capital released on Monday.

A team led by Matthew Brookes analyzed Google Trends data for search traffic in the USA over the past decade. The team compared search results for Planet Fitness, LA Fitness (the largest gym chain by 2015 revenue), 24 hour fitness (the second largest gym by revenue), Gold's Gym (the largest chain back in 2006), and Anytime Fitness, the largest competing gym franchiser to Planet Fitness.

And Planet Fitness came out on top. 

Planet fitness

(Google Trends)

The fitness chain is showing a strong start to the year. Searches in January and February 2017 are up 28%, faster than the 9% growth this time last year, according to Macquarie. 

Macquarie analysts rate Planet Fitness an "outperform" and "believe it is Planet Fitness that is 'bringing it' to the competition and not the other way around."

At only $10 a month, it's easy to understand the popularity of the franchise, which maintains a "100% judgment free" motto and whose gyms display messages of "You Belong." On December 30, the gym unveiled a new brand campaign: “The World Judges, We Don't. At Planet Fitness, Be Free.”

For comparison, a membership at popular fitness chain Equinox, although not a direct competitor to lower cost gyms, runs at $215 a month with a $300 initiation fee and $290 a month for locations worldwide with a $500 initiation fee.

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