in the Tilghman Square shopping center has renovated and nearly doubled the space dedicated to tanning and a new "skin rejuvenating" service called red light therapy.
Instead of five tanning rooms, the center now has nine, including one stand-up booth for the infrared light, owner John Clancy of Long Island said.
Clancy said customer demand drove him and other Planet Fitness owners to upgrade their tanning facilities and to add the red light therapy.
Skin specialists have long warned that UV light from tanning beds can not only age the skin but also contribute to skin cancer. However, the same experts say the jury is still out on red-light therapy, which does not produce UV rays.
According to an American Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute study of more than 1,100 Minnesotans diagnosed with melanoma between 2004 and 2007, those who used tanning beds were more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who never used tanning beds, and more frequent use meant a greater risk.
"Plenty of studies show that UV is not good for the skin but a lot of research also says the opposite is true," Clancy said. "I'm not a major proponent of tanning but I want to provide the services people are asking for."
The new tanning beds and stations replace "inferior" equipment with "high-end," Clancy said.
Planet Fitness' brochure claims red light therapy can increase collagen production from gentle vibration and infrared light to create more youthful skin. Clancy said some NASA studies found that as well.
The American Academy of Dermatology says "more definitive research is needed before we can determine the effectiveness of [red light] therapy...Compliance appears to be one of the biggest hurdles for red-light devices, as the therapy requires multiple treatments over an extended period of time to produce a noticeable improvement in aging skin.”
Said Clancy, "It's not a one-time fix."
When asked if red light therapy can cause any harm, he said that everything he's read suggests that if you wear eye protection, there's no harm.
A bill (Senate Bill 349) recently by Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, would require tanning salons to post a sign stating "DANGER-ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION" near tanning booths and require teenagers to get parents' permission to use the service. A spokesman for the Indoor Tanning Association said parental permission need not be mandated because it is common practice. Passed unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the bill moves to the state Senate for a vote.
To take advantage of the new and improved services at Planet Fitness, members must increase the status and cost of their memberships, from the usual $10 a month to $20. The upgrade also affords members massage chair use, discounts on drinks and unlimited guest privileges.