Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.

Do you hate gyms?  I hate the thought of all those sweaty bodies looking at me and judging my body type.  While "hate" is a strong word (it's what many feel at most gyms), I know just walking in my neighborhood isn't enough to keep me fit.  If only there was a place to work out without judgement.  Hmmm, what an idea!

Home of the Judgement Free Zone

The guys who invented the "judgement free zone", knew the slogan would strike a chord with most humans who have a less-than-perfect body type.  They are very smart guys both now and in 1992, when they founded one of the largest gym franchises worldwide. Do you remember Gold's Gym up on the hill across from Dover Bowl?

It was the place where the big guys went to lift weights and knowingly or unknowingly intimidated the heck out of the rest of us. Marc and Michael Grondahl had an idea: they could buy Gold's Gym, and turn it into a place where anyone can work out, not just the muscle-heads.

The most intriguing part of the Planet Fitness story is that the OG Planet Fitness is right in our backyard in Dover, New Hampshire. Yep, the "Judgement Free Zone" was established right up the street, according to its history page.

juan pablo rodriquez for unsplash.com
juan pablo rodriquez for unsplash.com

Today, Planet Fitness has over 15 million members, with franchises in all 50 states and worldwide in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, and Australia.  The company is doing well financially, too, according to cnbc.com, reaching 97% of it's pre-Covid peak, which makes it a good investment.  Everybody wants to get back at it now.

Free Pass for Teens All Summer

In fact, with mental illness on the rise after Covid, Planet Fitness is once again offering a free high school pass all summer to teens 14-19, to "not only help with teen's physical health, but with mental health as well", says upworthy.com.  This is at all their gyms, not just Dover. Just sign up at your local Planet Fitness.

The teen program runs from May 15 through August.

So, the next time you resolve to be more fit and healthy, go to the judgement free zone and don't be "gymtimidated". You can head on over to New Hampshire's OG Planet Fitness.

Thinkstock nd3000 via TSM
Thinkstock nd3000 via TSM

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