Tue, Sept. 17

New ‘judgment free’ fitness center opens in Cottonwood

Cottonwood Planted Fitness Manager KayLynn Carrizoza and fitness instructor Caleb Hillis stand in the “Judgment Free Zone” Tuesday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Cottonwood Planted Fitness Manager KayLynn Carrizoza and fitness instructor Caleb Hillis stand in the “Judgment Free Zone” Tuesday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

COTTONWOOD -- When you pass the “Judgment Free Zone” at Planet Fitness in Cottonwood, it’s like entering another world.

Rows of purple and yellow treadmills and elliptical machines face a row of 14 large-screen TVs hanging from the ceiling. Music beats in the background.

Gym assistants and trainers dressed in coordinated outfits eagerly greet anyone entering the door.

“We want our members to work out in a comfortable non-intimidating environment,” explained club manager KayLynn Carrizoza. “We don’t cater to body-building or powerlifting. Instead we focus on general fitness.”

Most of the premium members are first-time gym users, she added. The gym also offers fitness instruction, which is included in the membership. The fitness instructor develops a personal workout programs that fits a person best.

“We are also open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Carrizoza said. “And we have over 1,500 locations nationwide.”

The Cottonwood location is in the Safeway mall and designed like all Planet Fitness locations with rows and rows of colorful workout machines.

A total of 18 treadmills, 10 elliptical, four arc trainers, eight bikes, rowing machines, a new step machine, weight-resistant machines and free weights fill the local Planet Fitness, Carrizoza said.

And music plays all the time.

The facility also has a special “abs instruction area,” and a quick 30-minute express workout circuit giving members a total full-body workout in 30 minutes, she said.

The local facility hosts dozens of workout classes for different muscle groups. There are also showers, tanning, hydro massage beds and massage chairs. 

Planet Fitness is also about attitude and culture. As explained on its webpage, the company has completely changed the gym environment, “creating the non-intimidating, low-cost model that has revolutionized the gym industry.” Planet Fitness became known as a “welcoming and friendly community where people could feel comfortable regardless of their fitness level.”

“Just because we have workout equipment, doesn’t mean we’re a gym or a rec center,” explained Terrell Kluting, a general manger for Planet Fitness from Prescott. “We’re Planet Fitness. Our brand and our culture is what sets us apart.”

People also come because they “may not feel comfortable at a normal workout facility,” he pointed out.

“We’re here for the 98 percent of the population that doesn’t already belong to a workout facility,” Kluting said.

“Anybody can come in our doors and feel welcome,” he continued. “At the same time we offer assistance on their work-out journey. Whatever they want to do.”

The turnout of members for the new Planet Fitness has met expectations. “Everything we hoped it would be,” the manager said. “It’s a community that we’re happy to part of.”

City Rec Center is a different animal

Asked if Planet Fitness has had any effect on the CottonRecreation Center, Parks & Recreation Services Supervisor Hezekiah Allen said: “We have not seen a drastic change.” 

“And in fact we look at it more so as a positive for the community because we see it as there is obviously a need and want for people to get healthy and active. Which is ultimately our goal,” Allen said.  

The department’s goal is to see that people in community get out and they are healthy and active and “living lives to their fullest.”

When the new facilities come in, “it’s quite the opposite for us. We get excited.”

“As far as competition, we don’t see them as direct competition.” Allen said. “It’s a completely different strategy.”

Allen said if a person is looking for a gym that is open 24/7 and you want really low-cost and you really only need that amenity to get a workout in, then it’s a “great facility.”

“We’re an outdoor pool facility, we’re an indoor pool facility, banquet rooms, party rooms, gymnasium; there’s a lot.” Basketball, pickle ball, group classes. “We’re multi-generational community center.”

Allen addressed the question of whether the Recreation Center would ever be run or sold to a private company. He said, “Since the people voted for the facility that would be extremely tough.” He said it was a bond initiative that got the facility built.

He said there were no discussions internally or by the city council regarding going private. “I think that was a lot of political rhetoric,” Allen said.

Recreation Parks and Recreation Department is more than just the facility, Allen said, with parks, the clubhouse, open space, trails, etc..

“As a department we are doing great,” he continued. The facility itself fluctuates between 3,800 and 4,000 members, he added.

The recreation department never meant to recover all its costs with fees. “We typically run at about 62-percent cost recovery,” Allen said. “It’s varied, but not drastically.” That is about what was agreed to by the City Council and the department of what the cost recovery would be, Allen said.

The recreation center serves the multi-generational community with an affordable facility, he said.

The Recreation Center charges $40 for a city resident and $50 for non-resident per month and $305 and $385 respectively for a year’s membership.

Planet Fitness, after intro rates are over on March 1, will charge $10 a month for a local membership with a $39 annual fee and no commitment. The Planet Fitness Black Card membership is $21.99 to join, but requires a 12-month commitment. The card allows access to all of the 1,700 Planet Fitness locations around the world, Carrizoza said.

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