Photo by Andy Rogers

Planet Fitness in Eagan opened Dec. 28. The location currently has spacing requirements between cardio and resistance machines.

Gym opens as restrictions loosen

A new Planet Fitness opened in Eagan just in time for New Year’s resolutions and the reopening of gyms in Minnesota.

The fitness center opened its doors Dec. 28 in a former Big Lots location at 1278 Town Centre Drive.

Franchise owner Alex Mortensen, who has 53 locations throughout the Upper Midwest, said they selected the location about a year ago.

“We’ve been looking at locations in Eagan for forever,” he said. “We were hoping to open in October or November. With the gym shutdown, we just hit the pause button. It gave us time to get ready.”

Planet Fitness welcomes those at any point of their fitness journey, but the gym caters to those who may be new to gyms.

“About 40 percent of members haven’t been to a gym before,” Mortensen said.

Regional director Erin Nelson said Planet Fitness offers a number of orientation programs.

“We want people to be comfortable working out here regardless of their fitness,” Nelson said. “It’s a judgment-free zone. We’re targeting that 80 percent of people who don’t normally have a gym membership.”

Planet Fitness features cardio machines, resistance machines, multiple televisions, circuit training area, and a variety of specialized fitness equipment.

The resistance machines include QR Codes that bring up tutorial videos on the user’s phone to show how to use them.

The pandemic accelerated development on Planet Fitness’s phone app, which allows for touchless check-in and gym capacity checks.

“Before you come into the gym, you can see how busy we are,” Mortensen said. “It gives members the ability to select times when it’s not so crowded.”

Although they’re operating at limited capacity, January is traditionally the busiest time of year for fitness centers with people committing to New Year’s resolutions.

“First week of January, it’s usually hopping,” Mortensen said. “Plus, coming on the heels of this pandemic, there’s such a focus on health right now. We opened just in time.”

Planet Fitness also offers a Black Card membership, which provides access to additional amenities such as a spa with massage chairs, tanning booths, hydro massage machines as well access to other Planet Fitness gyms, which are “all very similar,” Mortensen said.

Currently there’s a lot of space between cardio and weight machines for social distancing purposes, according to club manager Alexa Klapperick.

Masks need to be worn at all times and the showers are currently unavailable. Members are asked to wipe down equipment after use and employees regularly clean high traffic places.

“Of our 2 million check-ins and there were 30 positive cases,” Mortensen said of Planet Fitness locations in Minnesota. “It’s different than going into a retail store, where you don’t know who is touching what. Members are usually pretty good about staying safe and wiping things down. They want us to stay open.”

He said they worked closely with the state on recommendations throughout the year.

This is the first Planet Fitness in Eagan, but there are 24 other locations in Minnesota including gyms in Burnsville and Apple Valley.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for the fitness industry,” Mortensen said. “Once we got through the shock of being shut down, we spent the time with the team on how to operate in a COVID environment and help them feel secure. It’s been a learning experience.”

Mortensen feels Planet Fitness will continue to grow exponentially especially once the pandemic has subsided.

“We’ve got big plans for Minnesota,” he said. “Unlike some businesses that are just trying to survive, we’re growing.”

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