Now Reading
Ousted Planet Fitness CEO Created Toxic Culture, Per Report

Ousted Planet Fitness CEO Created Toxic Culture, Per Report

Planet Fitness membership moderate buy
Former Planet Fitness employees allege that the company fostered a “toxic, high school environment” under Chris Rondeau

Recently ousted Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau is facing some out-of-this-world allegations from former employees who portray a “fitness employees gone wild” atmosphere that includes on-the-job drinking and weekend getaways bankrolled by a proverbial suitcase filled with thousands of dollars. 

Rondeau was shocked by being shown the door by the popular fitness franchise mid September, telling Insider that he was “seriously blindsided” by the decision of the board of directors.

“I wasn’t finished,” he told the publication via text message last month. “I had the best team, best franchisees and an amazing business.”

The stunning CEO shake-up sent shockwaves well past Rondeau and Planet Fitness employees, rippling right down to investors, causing shares of Planet Fitness to plummet nearly 20%. 

Former Employees Paint a Picture of Debauchery 

While Rondeau’s departure left the fitness industry reeling, the board of directors at Planet Fitness has remained vague, chalking up the ousting as simply a leadership change designed to lead Planet Fitness into its next chapter.

In the absence of detailed reasons as to why the board of directors sent Rondeau packing, six former Planet Fitness employees spoke to Insider. 

The former employees paint a picture of corporate debauchery, ranging from in-office alcohol consumption to Rondeau requesting staff to withdraw thousands from his personal accounts to foot the bill for weekend getaways. 

Insider’s sources allege that Rondeau also kept a keg in his office at Planet Fitness headquarters in New Hampshire, although former employees seem to debate the impact of its presence. According to the report, one former Planet Fitness employee said she felt the keg was unprofessional, while one former executive assistant noted the keg was locked and “frequently untouched.”

The alleged unprofessional environment continued, despite a 2018 workplace lawsuit that was filed against Rondeau and others.

In the lawsuit, a former employee depicted a workplace culture where drinking on the job was encouraged, citing events like “Fireball Fridays” and “Beers with Peers,” which would at times kick off early in the morning hours. The employee also alleged she was drugged and raped by her manager on a business trip and was then pressured into a relationship with her boss. The suit also claimed that Rondeau and another executive had intimate relationships with staff — allegations that they denied. The former employee and the fitness franchise settled the lawsuit in 2021.

The accusations of a party-like atmosphere were referenced by another former employee who told Insider that “everybody drank” and likened it to “the most toxic, high-school environment.”

See Also
Brea Ballard, the new World Gym Marketing VP, smiling

Although Rondeau maintains a seat on the fitness operator’s board of directors, he has been mum on the details regarding his termination, citing a confidentiality clause in the separation agreement with the low-cost, high-value fitness franchise. The agreement includes non-solicitation of employees, a non-disparagement provision and prohibits Rondeau from contacting Planet Fitness employees regarding his former employment.

What’s Next for Planet Fitness?

As it searches for Rondeau’s successor, Planet Fitness appointed Craig Benson as its interim CEO. Benson has served on the board for six years and is a Planet Fitness franchise owner.

While Planet Fitness ended Q2 with a total membership of over 18.4 million and a total revenue increase of 27.6% to $286.5 million, the fitness operator acknowledged the compounding effects of increased new store construction costs and rising interest rates. As a result of a challenging economic landscape, the fitness franchise announced it would reduce its 2023 outlook for placements of equipment in new franchisee stores to approximately 140, down from an anticipated 160. 

Aside from its former CEO making headlines, the fitness franchisor was said to be exploring a higher-priced membership option and began piloting the new pricing in multiple states. 

Planet Fitness didn’t immediately respond to Athletech News’ request for comment for this story

Scroll To Top