• When Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau was fired, it was a surprise to nearly everyone.
  • But former employees tell Insider Rondeau’s behavior raised eyebrows among some at headquarters.
  • Former staff say he kept a keg in his office and had assistants withdraw thousands in cash from his personal account for travel.

When Chris Rondeau, ten-year CEO of Planet Fitness, was fired by the company’s board of directors, he told Insider he was “seriously blindsided.”

“I wasn’t finished,” he told Insider in a text message last month. “I had the best team best franchisees and an amazing business.”

Confusion over Rondeau’s abrupt departure sent shares for the largest gym network in the US plummeting by 20%, slicing off more than $1 billion in market cap. Meanwhile, the exact reasons behind the board’s decision are still unclear.

As questions about Rondeau’s departure continue to go unanswered, Insider has learned that his hard-partying ways raised eyebrows among some staff.

Insider spoke with six former Planet Fitness employees. Some former staffers pointed to drinking in the office and Rondeau asking company staff to withdraw thousands from Rondeau’s personal accounts to pay for cash-fueled weekend getaways — even after a lawsuit claimed Planet Fitness suffered from a “debaucherous” alcohol-fueled environment — as red flags.

Planet Fitness and Rondeau did not respond to requests for comment.

Former Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015 after the company's IPO.

Former Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2015, after the company’s IPO.

Richard Drew/AP

Kegs and cash

Two former employees confirmed Rondeau kept a keg in his office at Planet Fitness headquarters in Hampton, New Hampshire. A former employee told Insider she felt the keg was unprofessional, while a former executive assistant defended it, saying the keg was “locked and frequently untouched.”

In a 2018 workplace lawsuit against Rondeau and other executives, former employee Casey Willard said drinking on the job was encouraged, describing events like “Fireball Fridays” and “Beers with Peers” that sometimes started before 8:30 AM. In court, lawyers for Rondeau denied claims about debauchery but said “some employees periodically consumed alcohol during work hours at certain times.”

“Everybody drank,” a third former employee told Insider. “It was the most toxic, high-school environment.”

One of the two former employees who recalled a keg being in Rondeau’s office said drinking that took place at work wasn’t compulsory or disruptive. Willard’s lawsuit didn’t prompt the keg’s removal, either; it remained there even after the lawsuit was filed, one employee said.

Former employees also told Insider Rondeau would ask assistants, who were company employees, to obtain thousands of dollars in cash ahead of leisure trips he asked them to coordinate.

The former executive assistant for Rondeau said he used the cash, taken from his personal bank accounts, to tip when he went to dinner or to buy coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

“He’s a generous tipper, there’s no denying that,” the former executive assistant said, adding that she didn’t think the amount of cash Rondeau traveled with was excessive for the CEO of a publicly traded company.

Rondeau would travel with thousands of dollars in cash on trips spanning a single weekend, another former employee said.

One former employee said these trips often blurred the line between leisure and business. Rondeau would often meet with franchise owners on the trips, people with whom he had both professional and personal relationships, the former employee recalled.

Rondeau’s separation agreement bars him from contacting any Planet Fitness employees about his employment, except those in the legal or human-resources divisions per his separation agreement, Insider previously reported.

A spokesperson for Planet Fitness previously told Insider Rondeau’s departure was not because of “any material or unexpected financial events.”

A September earnings call made shortly before Rondeau’s ouster painted an upbeat picture of the company’s business prospects — and the company’s same-store sales rose nearly 9% last quarter.

But the gym’s dirt-cheap pricing scheme — just $10 a month to join — had increasingly come under scrutiny as inflation drove up prices. In what would be his final earnings call as CEO, Rondeau said he wouldn’t budge on the $10-a-month pricing, saying it would “cheapen the brand.”

Rondeau was a fixture at Planet Fitness, starting front desk associate at the company’s first gym in 1993 and ascending to CEO in 2013 — but his tenure had rough patches.

In her workplace lawsuit, Casey Willard said she was drugged and raped by a manager on a work trip and then pressured into a relationship with her boss, Insider previously reported. Willard also said Rondeau and another executive had sexual relationships with subordinates, which they denied in a court filing.

Willard and Planet Fitness settled the lawsuit in 2021 for undisclosed terms.

Rondeau, in a text message sent to Insider in late September, said he never had an inappropriate relationship with an employee, “absolutely not on my kid’s life.”


By admin