Saturday, June 28, 2008

Planet Fitness, Cherry Hill

This here's a tale about a large, unwelcoming South Jersey strip mall coming back from the dead.

For those of you familiar with Cherry Hill on Route 70, a large strip mall (or small shopping center, whichever you prefer) hulks off the road at 2005 Route 70 East near Old Orchard. The shopping center, if I remember correctly, used to contain a Clover and/or a K-Mart (or was it a Sears?) in the days of yore. As time passed, owners and establishments changed, but not the bleak facade... a dated looking edifice that includes a shadowy overhang and only small entrance doors with a few windows that look miniscule compared to the size of the building.

Nowadays, one can find an Oscar Huber furniture store, ServiceMaster (I think they clean rugs and stuff), and the newest tenant, Planet Fitness in this eyesore of a shopping center.

Planet Fitness is an under-the-radar franchise of gyms that seem to be located in sprawling suburbs (such as Warminster and Langhorne, PA rather than big cities such as Philadelphia). Despite the uncreative external appearance which they inherited, their Cherry Hill gym is large and roomy and has all brand new machines, dumb bells, tanning rooms, and a back massage chair. It's a clean, unintimidating environment, but it's also no-frills in the sense that there aren't any workout classes like yoga or kickboxing, nor is there a court for basketball, volleyball or other such amenities.

As such, the price at Planet Fitness is very competitive and probably cheaper than most gyms because it's pretty streamlined. The Cherry Hill branch has only been open for about eight months as of this writing, but it has gained a significant following with people of all ages.

One thing that sets this gym apart is its "judgment free zone" philosophy. The concept is that there are plenty of people who just want to go and work out, and not have to deal with loud, obnoxious, intimidating "lunks", so when a "lunk" starts grunting, making loud noises, dropping weights, or the like, an alarm sounds and the person is warned to stop, or can be booted from the gym entirely. They also have a row of TVs to watch and listen to via a plug-in for your earphones, while you do cardio.

Overall it's a classy gym that won't try to nickel and dime you or leave you feeling small and puny like other ones.

To contact Planet Fitness, Cherry Hill, lift the phone and do one rep each of the following numbers: 856.751.9111

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