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May 06, 2014

Get the Fitness Industry to Support the Health of the Planet


By Lynn Hartung, Michigan Chapter volunteer

Lynn-HartungThe fitness industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, so is the number of plastic bottles that are going into landfills from fitness centers and gyms.

Between 33 and 40 percent of these clubs are large national chains like Anytime Fitness, Snap Fitness, Planet Fitness, Powerhouse, Fitness 19, Lifetime Fitness, and LA Fitness. Each boasts how fast they are growing and of their profits -- yet few of them are willing to spend approximately $100 a month to recycle plastic bottles. How sad!

So many of the battles we environmentalist fight are long, hard struggles, where we are fighting against big corporations and big money. I believe with a little effort we can persuade the large national chain fitness clubs to require their franchises to recycle.

One would think that since they are promoting health and fitness, the fitness industry would want to promote a healthy environment for their members and themselves to live in. But my research hasn't found this to be true.

For well over a year, I have been "nagging" the Planet Fitness gym where I am a member to recycle. Recently, I did a little investigation of my gym's trash (yup, I dug through it) and found 28 plastic bottles in the women's locker room wastebasket at 1:00 p.m. I assume by the end of the day the bottle count in that one basket would be 50 or more.

Now multiply that by two to account for the number of bottles in the men's locker room and add another 50 or more for the numerous wastebaskets found throughout the gym. That is somewhere between 100 and 200 plastic bottles a day going to a landfill from just this one gym. The owner of the PF Gym to which I belong owns ten PF gyms. I did the math to figure out how many bottles were going to the landfill and got pretty upset! Then I called all 36 PF gyms in Michigan and found out that only four of them recycle.


Here is the simple disturbing math of bottles going to the landfill, using only 100 bottles:

In Michigan, there are 32 Planet Fitness gyms that do not recycle: 100 bottles x 32 gyms x 350 days = 1.12 million plastic bottles going to the landfills in Michigan just from Planet Fitness

In Michigan, there are over 1,000 gyms; some are smaller gyms, some recycle, so I will use 700 gyms: 100 bottles x 700 gyms x 350 days = 24.5 million plastic bottles going to the landfills in Michigan

In the U.S. there are over 30,000 gyms; some do recycle and may not be large, so I will use 20,000 gyms: 100 bottles x 20,000 gyms x 350 days = 700 million bottles going to the landfills in the U.S.

To verify this wasn't just a Michigan problem, I randomly called 10 PF gyms in 10 different states. The good news is that 4 of the 10 did recycle-- but this obviously means 60 percent did not recycle.

After numerous phone calls and emails, the regional manager called me and said he would start a recycling program at my gym, and once it was working, he would implement it in the other nine gyms.

It appears that he was just trying to placate me and had no plans to move forward with an effective recycling program at my gym or the other nine gyms. The other day I pulled 15 bottles out of the wastebasket in the women's locker room. I have repeatedly asked for the owner of my gym and the CEO of Planet Fitness to call me, but I have not received a reply.

Fixing this problem is not rocket science; it is not hard, nor is it expensive. There would be a one-time cost per gym for two to four new recycling bins and $75 to $100 a month for an extra dumpster for recyclables. Next, they would just need to inform their members as they check in each day to please recycle.

Call one of the national chain gyms listed below and demand that they make their franchises recycle, or stop by a local gym or two and ask them if they recycle. If they don't, ask them to start and then keep bugging them until they start an effective recycling process.

It would be great if you would call Planet Fitness headquarters, who I have been pushing for the last month to require their franchises to recycle. A phone call from you might be just the nudge they need to require their franchises to recycle. After all, shouldn't they want a Fit Planet?

Planet Fitness — 36 in Michigan / 800 + in U.S. — HQ phone: 603-750-0001
Anytime Fitness — 86 in Michigan / 1,500 clubs worldwide — (John Kersh: john@anytimefitness.com)
Snap Fitness — 75 in Michigan  / 1,100 in U.S. — HQ phone: 952-474-5422
Powerhouse — 31 in Michigan / 309 in U.S. — HQ phone: 248-885-8909
LA Fitness — 14 gyms in Michigan / 560 in U.S. — HQ phone: 909-392-1063
Lifetime Fitness — 4 in Michigan / 109 in U.S. — HQ phone: 952-947-0000

: Please sign this petition to get fitness clubs across the country to recycle.

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