Planet Fitness to Begin Including Inclusive Fitness Equipment in Its Clubs

Planet Fitness Inc., Hampton, New Hampshire, and Paralyzed Veterans of America, National Council on Independent Living and American Council of the Blind (collectively Coalition for Inclusive Fitness) are working together to add accessible exercise equipment in Planet Fitness locations for people with disabilities, the organizations announced this week.  

Planet Fitness has committed to providing inclusive equipment in all new clubs and adding it to existing clubs across the country as franchise owners replace current offerings, as inclusive commercial grade equipment becomes available for purchase and is approved by Planet Fitness for inclusion in its clubs.

Planet Fitness will enhance the amount and variety of accessible equipment provided at its clubs by adding new inclusive equipment that conforms with ASTM standards as it becomes commercially available for purchase after clearing through a due diligence process, in accordance with set phased-in time parameters. 

It is Planet Fitness’ mission to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment to anyone who comes through its doors, Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said in the announcement.

"People with disabilities face significant barriers when attempting to access health and wellness activities, and it's clear that health inequity is often due to a lack of access and opportunity,” he said. “Today's commitment is another way we are working to eliminate barriers and enhance people's lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience for everyone."

The Coalition for Inclusive Fitness is focused on working with global organizations to build inclusive health communities that provide people with disabilities equal access to, and opportunities for, healthy living. 

This equipment installed at Planet Fitness locations will include:

An inclusive dual cable strength machine that allows a person to perform multiple exercises from a seated position, including from a wheelchair.

A recumbent cardio machine where movement of the arms can move the legs, and vice-versa, and, in addition, the seat can be removed so it can be operated from a wheelchair.

Multiple cardio machines, which, depending upon availability, can include treadmills, elliptical devices, upright bikes and/or recumbent bikes.

All new cardio machines will have inclusive features including raised tactile buttons and the ability to receive audible instructions and performance feedback through headphones. This will enable blind users to operate cardio machines independently.

Planet Fitness will also include the inclusive fitness symbol on all accessible equipment, share information about the roll-out of accessible equipment on its website (as it becomes available in its clubs), and continue its practice of providing customer service regarding the use of accessible equipment. 

"We applaud Planet Fitness for this historic commitment to the disability community," said Richard Thesing, Coalition for Inclusive Fitness' Chief Executive Officer.  "At the present time, there are no cardio machines that can be used by blind people and very few fitness centers have cardio or strength machines that can be used by people with mobility disabilities. This marks a huge step forward towards providing individuals with disabilities with a truly inclusive fitness experience. We hope this will be the start of an industry-wide effort to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy an accessible fitness experience and take similar steps to making that a reality."

Eric Bridges, executive director, American Council of the Blind, said: "People who are blind face a myriad of chronic health conditions due in no small part to the lack of accessible exercise and fitness equipment available in the market today. The lack of accessible user interfaces and audible output for nearly all types of exercise and fitness equipment prevents people who are blind and experiencing vision loss from independently operating, purchasing and enjoying the use of fitness and exercise equipment, and thereby taking control of their own health and wellbeing.  ACB applauds Planet Fitness for their collaboration with the disability community, and we encourage other fitness and exercise providers to follow their leadership to enable people with disabilities the freedom to take control of their health."

Heather Ansley, associate executive director of government relations, Paralyzed Veterans of America, said: "For people with spinal cord injuries and disorders, being able to access exercise equipment that meets their needs can be essential to maintaining an exercise program that increases their strength and endurance for rehabilitation, health, and overall sense of well-being. We believe that this commitment will help make accessible equipment more available in people's communities and we are pleased that Planet Fitness has stepped forward to help meet this critical need."