A Planet Fitness gym recently opened in part of a former...

A Planet Fitness gym recently opened in part of a former Best Market Grocery in the West Babylon Town Center.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Planet Fitness has been quickly taking advantage of store and gym exits on Long Island, where the discount chain is scooping up large vacant spaces.

The Hampton, New Hampshire-based chain has opened two new Long Island gyms and relocated one in the last few months and plans to open at least three more in the area by the end of the year.

The chain has 26 gyms on Long Island, an increase from 17 in April 2019. 

Planet Fitness Inc., which opened 132 new gyms in 2021, has more than 2,290 gyms in North America and Australia. The chain ended the first quarter of this year with a record-high number of members, 16.21 million.

“Since the start of 2021 … they’re fourth in the U.S. amongst all tenants leasing retail spaces,” said Brandon Svec, national director of U.S. retail analytics at the CoStar Group Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based commercial real estate information provider.

Planet Fitness took advantage of vacancies created during the COVID-19 pandemic to get good locations at favorable rents, said Jack Chera, an executive managing director in the Woodbury office of Ripco Real Estate and the exclusive broker for Planet Fitness on Long Island.

“All these clubs that we’re opening now were all signed during COVID,” he said.

Planet Fitness declined Newsday’s request for comment on its growth strategy.

Here is a rundown of Planet Fitness’ six gyms that recently opened or will open on Long Island in 2022:

  • Carle Place: In May, a Planet Fitness on Glen Cove Road relocated 0.7 miles to 177 Old Country Rd., where it took what was left of a space that Toys R Us vacated in 2017. 

    The gym relocated because Planet Fitness wanted a more prominent location, said Christopher Wierzbicki, a director at Pliskin Realty and Development Inc., the Garden City company that owns the Glen Cove Road shopping center.

    The Old Country Road gym occupies 18,000 square feet in Carle Place Commons.  

    The rest of the Toys R Us space is occupied by off-price home décor store HomeSense, said Robert Goldfeder, director of leasing for Woodmere-based real estate developer Basser-Kaufman, which owns Carle Place Commons. 
  • Merrick: A Planet Fitness will open Aug. 17 in Merrick Commons, said Chloe Blair, a spokeswoman for the gym chain. The gym will occupy a 15,038-square-foot space that women’s clothing store Mandee vacated last year, said Chris Ostrowski, a spokesman for Kimco Realty Corp., the Jericho-based real estate investment trust that owns Merrick Commons.

    The gym will be at 1630 Merrick Rd.
  • Patchogue: A new Planet Fitness is splitting a former Pathmark supermarket space with a Giunta’s Meat Farms grocery store. The gym, which opened in June, occupies about 17,000 square feet, while Giunta’s, which owns the building, has occupied about 47,000 square feet since April 2020, said Greg Batista, who works in the Woodbury office of Ripco Real Estate and is one of two brokers who represented the landlord in leasing. 

    The gym is located at 399 Rte. 112.
  • Plainview: A new Planet Fitness will take 19,159 square feet of a former Fairway Market grocery store space in Manetto Hill Plaza on Manetto Hill Road. The gym will open by the end of this year, Blair said.

    At 55,162 square feet, the 19-year-old Fairway was the largest tenant in the shopping center when it closed in July 2020, several months after its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

    Manetto Hill Plaza is owned by Kimco Realty.
  • Syosset: A Planet Fitness will open at 54 Ira Rd. in September, Blair said. 

    The 16,664-square-foot gym will be in a space formerly occupied by New York Sports Clubs in the Syosset Shopping Center.
  • West Babylon: A Planet Fitness and discount grocer Lidl are splitting space that formerly was occupied by a Best Market grocery store in West Babylon Town Center. The gym opened July 17 at 533 Montauk Hwy.

    It occupies 21,700 square feet, while Lidl, which opened in September, occupies 36,000 square feet, said Goldfeder, of Basser-Kaufman, which owns West Babylon Town Center.

Finding the right fit

Planet Fitness’ location requirements for opening a new gym include having a space that is between 17,000 square feet and 25,000 square feet with 15-foot ceilings, and parking spaces for at least 150 cars, Chera said.

“They like to be in supermarket-anchored centers,” he said.

While more than 90% of all Planet Fitness gyms are franchises, all the locations on Long Island are now corporately owned.

The fitness industry overall has had a 25% decline in gym locations since the pandemic began in 2020, said Rick Caro, the founder of IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association), a Boston-based trade group.

But high-volume, low-price gyms — Planet Fitness is the largest chain in that segment — have been growing and recovering fastest, said Caro, who also is the president of Management Vision Inc., a Manhattan-based consulting firm to the fitness industry.

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