The Joint, Planet Fitness land in the Columbus market

Chiropractic, health club businesses part of fast-growing national chains

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 2, 2014 

A couple of national chains are muscling their way into the Columbus market, with one taking a crack at the chiropractor segment and the other promising to keep local residents physically fit without intimidation.

The Joint, which also bills itself as “the chiropractic place,” recently opened at 6770 Veterans Parkway, situated between the Lowe’s home improvement store and the Winn-Dixie supermarket.

Planet Fitness, a large health club chain with more than 700 locations already, is expected to open Jan. 17 at 4519 Woodruff Road, in St. Francis Marketplace shopping center.

The Joint will hold a grand opening and open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 9. Free adjustments and give-a-ways are part of the event at the clinic, which is one of 441 such facilities either open or in the pipeline in 28 states.

Peachtree City, Ga., residents Richard Burke and Mario Toledo opened The Joint in Columbus, with plans to add three more in the region at some point.

“The population in Columbus is very strong. The demographics are strong. It’s a growing metropolis. It’s modernizing. Every year it’s getting more and more cosmopolitan,” Burke said of the decision to enter the local market with the concept. He mentioned the presence of Fort Benning and corporations such as Aflac as factors in the process.

Burke himself used The Joint in the Atlanta area before deciding to purchase a franchise license. It made him feel better physically, he said, while also saving the businessman money on traditional chiropractic treatment.

The Joint doesn’t accept insurance like traditional chiropractic practices. Instead, patients pay $49 a month for four visits a month, with additional sessions costing $29. Appointments are not necessary and the clinic is open six days a week in the heavily trafficked shopping center near Columbus Park Crossing.

“I know how well and how great it made me feel and all of the things it helped me accomplish,” Burke said of his visits to The Joint in Peachtree City. “I got my energy back. They removed the pain. I exercised and lost 40 pounds. I’m firing on all cylinders and I just know that there are thousands of people out there that would love to feel the same way.”

Nick Price is the primary chiropractor at the Columbus clinic, with Stephanie Lyons treating patients part-time for now, he said.

The Joint has grown under former Massage Envy founder John Leonesio, who became chief executive officer in 2010, but who now is simply chairman of the board. The chain has grown to about 180 locations in all, with roughly 260 more in development and expected to open this year. Inc. magazine has ranked it No. 44 on its list of the 500 fastest-growing franchises in the nation.

Planet Fitness, meanwhile, is going inside the former Gold’s Gym Elite space, with that health club having closed in September 2011 after being bought out by Columbus-based American Club Systems, which operates Max Fitness.

Planet Fitness will inhabit 17,600 square feet of space in the 63,600-square-foot shopping center. Starbucks, Kool Smiles, Steak-Out and a Jimmy John’s sub shop also are part of the center’s mix.

Its monthly charge starts at $10, with the trademarked “Judgement Free Zone” promoted to prospective members. According to its website, that “means members can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms.”

There currently are about a dozen Planet Fitness health clubs in Georgia. A membership category of $19.99 per month now being promoted — with a 12-month commitment — gives customers access to all 700-plus Planet Fitness locations, along with other benefits.

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