Pekin is welcoming another big name fitness center to the community‚ Planet Fitness, but the company doesn't know when it will open.
The center will be located at 3247 Court St. The fitness center offers free fitness training, use of any Planet Fitness location, unlimited guest privileges, hydromassage, tanning, massage chairs and more.
Planet Fitness Manager Ryan Hanson said Thursday that he could not say when the gym will open and declined further comment.
Gold's Gym Express was the first large franchise gym to open in Pekin. The franchise opened in 2014 at East Court Village II on Pekin's east side. It has a movie theater, tanning spa and other amenities. It drained some the membership of Parkside Athletics, Pekin Park District's athletic center. Gold's Gym did not respond to a request for comment about what impact Planet Fitness could have on business.
In February 2014, then Pekin Park District Director Bob Blackwell said Parkside had lost approximately 80 members since Gold's opened in 2013. Current Pekin Park District Director Cameron Bettin said some of those clients have returned to Parkside.
Bettin said the park district can compete with the big chains.
"Our focus is on us and what we offer at Parkside," said Bettin. "We feel we offer more than what anybody else does in the area."
Parkside has cardio equipment, a free-weight room, racquetball courts, tennis courts, pickleball and wallyball courts. It has personal trainers and has independent contractor agreements with personal trainers. There are yoga classes, Les Mills classes, RPM classes and the Parkside Kidz Club. Parkside works with the Pekin Community High School tennis teams, softball teams, the Pekin Community Softball Association and the PowerPlay Program through the Illinois Association of Park Districts.
Bettin said the park district offers a full circle fitness program, not just exercise. Parkside this year adopted the Illinois Association of Park District's PowerPlay program. The PowerPlay! Beyond School Grant Program focuses on health, nutrition and fitness for children ages kindergarten through fifth grade and sixth grade through 12th grade.
The idea, said Parkside Athletics Manager Keith Knox, is to instill in children that there is more to being healthy than exercise.
"It's a kids program, and this year, we are focusing on a Learning Garden Project," said Knox. "We're just getting started, trying to teach the kids that going to the grocery store and just buying food — how does it get there?
"We've started with seedlings and a little green house, and they're out tending to the garden and picking their own vegetables, having salads out of it. Right now, the local Carpenters Union is going to be building us some raised beds and some elevated handicapped accessible beds for us. We've had a lot of local community businesses donate materials and products that we can use, or just flatly donating money for it. We want people to realize they can start out small in their backyard. Obviously we're trying to start at the youth level so they learn that and continue that process."
Knox said it's about health — exercise and good eating habits reduce the chance of diabetes and heart problems.
Bettin said those are things other gyms do not have or offer.
Mason's Gym Owner Earl Riley said he is not worried about a large gym moving into Pekin, because he caters to a special group of people.
"Typically, your Planet Fitness and the Gold's Gym Express, those are I guess some of your moderate fitness type lifters, whereas my gym is more hardcore or more power lifting — that style," said Riley. "So those people that lift there, guys or girls, tend to not really want to be in traditional gyms because they can't do some of the things they want to do.
"What I always tell people is the people who go to my gym typically don't want to shower and clean up before they go to the gym. They're coming home from work, there're going to go work out. They're not going to have to get dressed up. When they go to some of these other places they're a little nicer and you can't go in their with your greasy work boots on and lift weights."
Riley said he can't say Planet Fitness will not have an impact on his gym, because there are always people who join wherever it is cheapest.
"Those places run off some pretty good specials for people," he said. "But for general fitness, that may be a better fit for some people. Mine's a little more hard core, I guess."
Anytime Fitness Manager and Fitness Director Kimber Jensen said she believes the opening of Planet Fitness will impact all of the area gyms because of the intense competition for members.
"Every gym has its niche, and there's a gym for everybody," said Jensen. "The 24-hour gym use to be the model, but now that's difficult because other gyms are open 24-hours.
"We don't rely on the 24-hour model anymore, we rely more on training — different programs and classes to attract and keep members. Our members get results. We are result driven."