By now, just about everyone has heard of Planet Fitness. New locations are constantly popping up all throughout the United States. They promise a judgement-free zone and a low monthly membership fee of only $10. But what is it like to workout at a Planet Fitness? Well I am about to tell you everything you need to know. Planet Fitness was my main gym for a about seven months.
Before I get into the review, I want to mention that not every Planet Fitness gym is going to be exactly the same. They are franchises. So although every gym is similar, there are going to be some minor differences due to ownership.
The cost is as low as $10 a month and you can get signed up in as little as 15 minutes. This makes it probably the cheapest major gym chain in the country. If it’s more than $10 a month, then you can wait until there is a promotion to the get the best price. There are higher-level packages available, and these include massage chairs and tanning beds. I believe these packages cost around $40 a month. Combining your tanning along will your gym membership here would be cheaper if you were to switch from a traditional tanning salon. I have heard that it can be difficult to cancel your membership, but I personally don’t remember having an difficulties.
You might sign-up and try out Planet Fitness and think to yourself, ‘this is a strange gym’. To first understand their gym, you need to first understand their business model. They don’t want customers who are seriously into fitness, and they don’t want people to actually go to their gym. I’m serious. Their entire business model is based on people signing up and then not showing up. People who are out-of-shape join (usually after New Years), they workout a few times, and then they disappear. They don’t cancel their membership because it’s only $10 a month, and having a gym membership gives them the option of working out. Canceling would be admitting defeat.
The gym doesn’t make money on a bodybuilder, or anyone who goes on a regular basis. The more a piece of a equipment gets used, the more likely it will need to get repaired and replaced. And that can be a major cost.
Planet Fitness has a cult-like atmosphere, and I’m not just talking about the purple and gold colored walls and machines. They target a certain type of customer, and they do everything they can to accommodate their ideal customer while trying to make everyone else uncomfortable.
So they will be ‘judgement-free’ for the average Joe, but they will harshly judge the bodybuilder. This is why they have a ‘lunk alarm’. A lunk is someone that acts disruptive. So if you grunt, drop a weight, or ‘pass judgement’, then the alarm will go off for everyone to hear. I’m not sure if someone has to manually pull an alarm or if it’s automatic, but either way it goes off and a staff member comes over to scold you.
The staff here just aren’t very helpful, but that’s what you get at a budget gym. Most of them have little to no knowledge about fitness and there are no personal trainers here. If you have a fitness question then you will have better luck getting it answered by someone training beside you. The staff tries hard to make sure that everyone is following the rules. If the lunk alarm goes off, then a staff member will come over to talk to you. So in reality, they are more out to get you then they are out to help you. However some of the font-desk workers can be friendly, but it all depends on the specific gym.
This is just a strange place to workout, there’s no other way to put it. Here a few of their unique customs:
- Pizza Day – Every month they have pizza at the front desk and members can grab unlimited free slices. Pizza is not exactly the healthiest food, and it’s certainly a temptation for members trying to lose weight.
- Lunk Alarm – As I mentioned previously, an alarm sounds when you grunt or drop a weight on the floor.
- Candy – There is a punchbowl up at the front desk filled with tootsie rolls. I wish I was joking, but unfortunately I’m not.
- No Personal Trainers – Every real gym has personal trainers. So why doesn’t Planet Fitness? I think we know the answer to that question. This isn’t a real gym. They don’t actually want to get you in shape.
The big question is, can you actually workout here? The answer is yes, depending on your level of strength. But either way you will be limited in what you are able to do. There are no power racks here, and instead there will usually be just one Smith Machine. You also aren’t allowed to deadlift with a barbell. Most franchises also don’t have an Olympic bench setup, so your best bet is to use dumbbells, however the dumbbells only go up to 75 pounds. The heaviest fixed barbell is 60 pounds. So while there is an obvious lack of free weights, there are plenty of machines. The cardio area is pretty large and you will find a good number of treadmills and ellipticals.
If you are serious about weight lifting and you have some extra money to spend, then you should train elsewhere. Because let’s face it, this isn’t a real gym. What can a real gym provide you with? Olympic benches, dumbbells over 100 pounds, power racks, and the ability to deadlift.
If you are on a really tight budget, then you can probably make this gym work for you. Just expect to get frustrated or annoyed on a regular basis.
Overall I am somewhat torn on Planet Fitness. I believe everyone should have an affordable place to train. However, they are completely hypocritical with their judgement-free zone slogan, because they pass harsh judgement onto bodybuilders- the ones who usually train the hardest.