Planet Fitness Finally Opens Its Doors

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After a series of delays and some controversy, the Planet Fitness facility in the basement of The Gardens at Great Neck shopping mall on Great Neck Road has opened for business.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking its official opening was held on June 17 with Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender in attendance. Nassau County Fire Marshal requirements had postponed the original opening from earlier in the month because of needed adjustments to a basement egress in a back hallway.
PlanetFitness_062714AThe gym, built at a cost of over $2 million, had faced some heated opposition in the fall from area residents who complained that the Planet Fitness had no plans to continue offering swimming, baby sitting, classes and other services that the previous tenant, New York Health & Racquet Club, had provided before it closed in September.
Additionally, the nationwide chain had to scale back its plans to offer ultra violet tanning services (prohibited by Plaza code) and operate 24 hours a day, unprecedented in the village. Its hours are 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, basically mirroring the hours of the previous tenants.
There were also concerns that the gym would increase parking, traffic and pedestrian problems at the mall due to its inexpensive membership fees (which start at $10 a month) and expected popularity.
Mayor Celender took a quick tour of the 26,000-square-foot facility underneath Waldbaums, and was impressed with the rows of treadmills, ellipticals, other types of cardio machines and strength equipment and numerous flat screen TVs. There are also large locker rooms for men and women with day lockers and showers.
“It looks beautiful,” Celender said after the brief ribbon-cutting. “It’s very comfortable and it’s very clean. We’re happy to see the gym open here again. It’s been a fitness facility here for well over 20 years. We welcome Planet Fitness and wish them all the best success. I hope that lots of people will come here to get healthy.”
The site manager is Melissa Garcia, who worked at the Levittown location for three years.
“I hope to get a lot of members in and make everybody happy,” said an optimistic Garcia. “I want them to feel comfortable. We’ll make sure that everything is clean. We have staff that will be cleaning every day and staying on top of it.”
“Our customer service is great,” Craig Ouellette, regional manager for seven of the chain’s Long Island locations, added. “Those are our strengths ­— customer service and cleanliness.”
Ouellette says that peak usage usually occurs from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays but tends to fall off as the weekend approaches.
“But since this is a new location, it may take some time to find out what our peak times will be,” he said.
Planet Fitness also offers spray tanning, using lotions for the prohibited ultra-violet ray services and hydro massage beds to customers willing to pay a higher monthly fee. The gym’s “Angel Beauty” booths, a 12-minute process that is said to stimulate muscles and provide therapeutic massage, are also available.
The machine recently came under close scrutiny by the Village’s Board of Trustees over concern that it might violate the intent of its anti-tanning machine ordinance. Planet’s attorney stated that no tanning was involved in the unit at all.
Fitness is anticipating donating $2,560 to The Great Neck Community Fund from enrollment fees from its pre-sale that ran from April 1 through June 11. A check for that amount was presented to GNCF’s Michael Larkin earlier this week.

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