Wondering whether Planet Fitness is a good gym? 

is-planet-fitness-a-good-gymLike the answer to many questions in life, it depends.  Sure, it’s easy to look at the price tag for membership (a mere $10 a month) and think, “hey, why not? It’s just $10!” and that, maybe just maybe, a year-long commitment signed on the dotted line will be the MAGIC BULLET to finally getting you to workout regularly…

But maybe you’d think twice if you knew that Planet Fitness BANKED on the fact that you WON’T show up regularly.  Why not, you wonder?  Why would a place you pay money to every month to use NOT want all their members to show up?

It’s not so hard to figure out why if you imagine the 6,000 paying members of a gym showing up in a space meant for 300 people max during peak workout times.  Then again, this scenario is made a bit easier to imagine when you brave the gym during the annual Attack of the Resolutionaries each January.  

Can you picture that kind of crowded chaos throughout the entire year? Would you want to continue on as a member when night after night, you had to patiently wait for a treadmill to open up OR show up 30 minutes early for a group class just so you can get a little square of space to join in? Chances are that kind of attendance day after day would cause a full-on revolt.  Cancellation requests up the wazoo and maybe even a class action lawsuit.  So, it stands to reason that a popular, inexpensive gym like Planet Fitness would NOT want all of its members to be using their gym regularly.  

In a riveting Planet Money podcast this week, NPR reveals the kind of mind games that gyms like Planet Fitness play with you- to get you to sign up for membership, but not to actually use the membership (well, if you’re one of the half they’re banking on being NO SHOWS).

I’ve been meaning to do a blog rant about Planet Fitness for awhile based on its much hyped Judgment Free Zone (and their hypocrisy in implementation) but I stopped short after seeing that one of my favorite weight loss bloggers, Tony Posnaski, had chimed in on the subject rather eloquently already HERE.

For a “Judgment Free Zone,” Planet Fitness comes across pretty judgmentally when it comes to:

  • those who are very fit (that is, if their fitness level is on full display with fairly typical workout attire)
  • those who lift heavy weights (that is, if they make noise during exertion) 
  • those who actually want to lift weights with proper form (a hard task to do without the use of mirrors to check yourself)

I didn’t even set foot in a gym back when I weighed 240 pounds.  Looking back, I can definitely picture succumbing to the lure of the “Judgment Free” Zone if there were a Planet Fitness in my area back then.  

I probably would have said “heck yeah! That fit woman in the sports bra and booty shorts is making me feel bad about myself so I’m glad the Manager is asking her to cover up .”  

I would have been too scared to lift a weight so I wouldn’t have had to fear setting off the Lunk Alarm…ever.  

I’d be glad there were no mirrors to see my reflection as I worked out.  I avoided mirrors quite often in those days.

After losing 100 pounds and gaining a new perspective as a woman who’s grown to love fitness, I value having a mirror around when I’m lifting heavy- not for vanity’s sake but to check my form is proper so I don’t risk injury.  

I lift things heavier than Barbie weights…and when I’m working hard, I make noise.  

And I know that if a ridiculously fit woman’s sports bra and booty shorts are making me feel bad about myself, well then that’s MY problem, not hers (though for the record, I more often feel inspired rather than bothered by these kind of women).  

A lot can change in 10 years and 100 pounds. Back then, I would have rejoiced at the thought of free pizza and bagels! 

Don’t even get me started on the Tootsie Rolls, bagels and pizza offered at Planet Fitness.  Actually, DO get me started- if you’re someone flirting with the idea of a gym membership with a weight loss goal in mind, there is NO amount of exercise you can do in a gym that’s going to undo the impact of a bad diet.  Those with big weight & fat loss goals should place MOST of their focus on nutrition (not on how many times a week you can show up at a gym- especially if you wind up noshing on candy, bagels & pizza while at the gym).

It’s no secret that I love to workout at home. We have our own garage gym and I’m in there nearly every day. I know that this isn’t an option for everyone- and some folks just prefer a gym atmosphere.  I’ve been a member of several gyms since losing weight and I think they can be a valuable piece of the puzzle for those who don’t have space to workout or prefer to do it in a social environment.  Here’s the thing about gyms  though- they’re only as good if you actually USE them. 

I know it’s just as easy to rag on Planet Fitness as it is to jump on board the Purple & Yellow bandwagon.  $10 a month is a pretty sweet hook.  But it’s only sweet if you show up (and clean up your diet while you’re at it).  Don’t be one of the 50% of folks who excitedly commit to a gym membership and then rarely use it.  Only sign on that dotted line if you KNOW you’ll be there, come hell or high water, 3-5 times per week…even when the gym is crazy crowded during January.  

If, on the other hand, you’re leaning towards working out at home instead check out my online store.  My recommendation? Pick a Challenge Pack for best deal- you’ll get a complete workout program, an easy to follow meal planning guide, VIP club membership and a month’s supply of the Healthiest Meal of the Day all at a deeply discounted bundle price.  Now that’s a really SWEET deal.

Tight budget right now? Sign up for FREE fitness coaching with me at www.makefitwork.com

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