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Planet Fitness goes public, hits mark in first day of trading

Planet Fitness goes public, hits mark in first day of trading
Planet Fitness dancers perform on treadmills outside the New York Stock Exchange after the company's IPO on Thursday. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

"Judgment-free" budget gym chain Planet Fitness is the latest fitness company to go public.

Shares of the Newington, N.H.-based company closed at $16 on its first day of trading Thursday, matching  the issue price.

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Planet Fitness' gyms are known for cheap membership fees -- as low as $10 a month -- and its purple-and-yellow workout equipment. The company has touted its locations as a "judgment free zone," where intimidating "lunkhead" behavior like grunting and dropping weights is discouraged.

Planet Fitness had 976 locations across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada as of March, including 25 gyms in Southern California. Last year the company had $1.2 billion in revenue, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With more than 7.1 million members, the company said it believed it was the largest operator of fitness centers in the U.S.

Health club memberships have risen since 2009, except for a dip in 2012.

In 2014, the total number of U.S. health club memberships hit 54 million, up from 52.9 million a year earlier, according to a 2015 report from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Assn.

The increased interest has encouraged fitness companies like SoulCycle to go public to raise funds for expansion. The indoor cycling chain started trading last week.

So far, companies like exercise-tracking device maker Fitbit and golf, country and sports club firm ClubCorp are doing well in the stock market, said Pamela Kufahl, director of content and engagement at Club Industry, a fitness industry publication.

Planet Fitness sold 13.5 million shares of Class A common stock to raise $216 million.

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