The problem with Planet Fitness

There’s a growing chain of gyms called Planet Fitness. And I really, sincerely wish Planet Fitness would go the way of Alderaan.

Here’s what the typical Planet Fitness looks like: A huge purple warehouse full of cardio machines, with a few weight machines and a dumbbell rack that goes up to 60 stuck in the corner somewhere. Oh, and there’s a big siren on the wall called the “lunk alarm” that blares anytime someone clanks a weight or lets out a grunt of exertion.

Our Puritan ancestors used to shame people for idleness. Now we shame them for working too hard? Nobody likes poor gym etiquette, but since when is the solution to an annoyance the creation of a bigger annoyance?

Planet Fitness is a self-described “no judgment zone,” where people, no matter their level of personal fitness, are encouraged to come exercise. A gym packed with neophytes isn’t exactly ideal, but hey, if people are learning and making progress, awesome.

Except that’s not what happens. Rather than give the sedentary and unfit a safe place to begin a real fitness journey, Planet Fitness actively condones—and encourages—what I call “hamster wheel training.” I call it that because literally and figuratively, you get nowhere. You plod along on a treadmill or elliptical and watch reality TV. In the process, Planet Fitness demonizes folks who dare to approach fitness from a more functional standpoint—lifting heavy weight until they can’t lift it anymore.

I realize I sound like a total blowhard meathead here, and I swear, if doing an hour or two of brisk walking every week were enough to stay fit and healthy, I’d shut my mouth. But it’s not. If you think a glorified hamster wheel all on its own—with no flexibility work, progressive resistance training, or sensible nutrition plan—will keep you strong and lean, then you are fiddling while Rome burns, and Planet Fitness is robbing you blind.

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8 Responses to The problem with Planet Fitness

  1. Phil Yeesh says:

    The only alarm I ever want to set off in the gym is the fire alarm because I’m burning up… so much fat.

    Except I guess a fire alarm would be just as distracting, not to mention that it would create chaos/confusion/terror.

  2. RICH says:

    u need to chill out dude…some regular people just want to do regular exercises

    • Marshall says:

      @RICH I hear you—and it IS possible to get a great workout in at PF. A few dumbbells and your bodyweight can go a LONG way with the right knowledge. My point is that PF (and, to be fair, most/all “commercial” gyms) never makes an effort to educate their members about what types of exercise will yield the best results. And their stigmatization of weightlifters as vain morons is just plain wrong.

      By the way, what do you consider “regular” exercises?

  3. Pingback: Awesome workout at Planet Fitness (no, seriously) | | Strength & Conditioning

  4. pat says:

    This place is just a gimmick plain and simple to make money! The whole judgement free crap and lunk alarm is judment in reverse–giving people who work out there a reason to judge other members who might really be there to sweat and make changes in their bodies. It is sad because all planet fitness is doing is taking naive peoples money and making them believe they are actually doing something good for themselves. I mean really Pizza and bagel day? have your cake and eat it to huh? But if they can get away with fleecing the sheeple might as well do it or else somebody else will.

  5. EC says:

    I agree with you 100%. For me though it’s just a matter of convenience, and the PF by my house is just that. I see a lot of people talking on their phones, walking 1.5 miles an hour for ten minutes and never even breaking a sweat. But hey, at least they’re getting out of the house….I guess.

  6. Susan Talbott says:

    I have never seen a “lunk alarm” go off, and yes, I’ve heard sounds coming from the weight machines. PF changed up my fitness life. I’ve been working out for 24 years at home using a large library of videos while I was raising 4 children.,,and at age 51, resemble an olympic swimmer. But…I’ll have to tell you, what bothers me is that it attracts dumbasses that can’t read a sign that says the “circuit training area” is just THAT! I have to sit there and stare seething at the A-hole that just came in to use equiptment number 20 that I am panting needing to use…right now!

  7. BLS says:

    I can answer one question: Planet Fitness appeals to women – at least in theory. As a long term weightlifting female who has cycled in and out of most of our local gyms, I admit to laughing at least two of their commercials. You know guys, we get it – pumping iron increases in all sorts of things. Nevertheless, women who lift are usually there to lift. The annoying grunts, weight slams and range of other “look at me!” behavior is as rude as it is distracting – and generally gets the “gym rat” label mental attachment. And while I’ll grant that a large percentage of male lifters understand this, it happens weekly – if not daily. The unfortunate thing about PF is that it isn’t truly set up for a serious weight routine, just wannabe’s or starters. So it’s back to a PH or some other gym where the nonsense continues because women are outnumbered about 20 to 1 (at least in my area).

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