After 28 years as a human on this Earth, and over 6 years as a professional in the fitness industry, I finally made my debut at Planet Fitness.
Perhaps my delay in checking out one of America’s fastest growing gyms had to do with my disregard for commercial gyms, or my fear of all purple machines and disgust toward tootsie rolls.
Despite my hesitations, my dad convinced me to give it a whirl with him. Truthfully, I wanted to expand my horizons, go on an adventure, and see what the hype was about.
Upon entering, we were greeted by a jovial woman at the front desk. She was welcoming in her aura, and was eager to give me the low-down on all the waiver shenanigans.
Of course, I was expecting things like 1. clean up your equipment 2. sanitize the cardio machines when done and 3. don’t walk around naked.
Instead, I was given a laundry list of no-no’s that I wasn’t expecting:
I was told I couldn’t wear sleeveless shirts that exposed my nipple area.
I was told I couldn’t make grunting noises.
I was told I couldn’t bang weights.
But, what if I’m deadlifting 1.5x my bodyweight?
Oh wait, I was told I couldn’t deadlift.
And I was told I couldn’t jump rope.
But seriously. What the fuck.
Off the bat, I was discouraged, but I signed the waiver and proceeded to the main gym with my dad.
As I entered the workout area, I was blinded by the glossy, purple machines I thought I was stuck in a bad LSD trip.
And yes, I just related Planet Fitness’s interior design to psychedelics.
I had no choice but to begin my workout in an abyss of purpleness. Since I couldn’t deadlift, I resorted to dumbbell hip thrusts.
Avoiding eye contact when doing these is my go-to. So as I thrusted the dumbbell, I looked up to the ceiling. When I thought I was avoiding the wrath of Planet Fitness, I couldn’t help but notice the world famous Lunk Alarm that said, “one who grunts, drops weights, or judges.”
With the 70 pound dumbbell on my hips, how was I ever going to NOT drop this? I cringed as I managed to gingerly put my dumbbell down and avoid all noise.
After this, I decided to keep the rest of my workout simple: split squats, seal rows, Arnold presses, and some plank variations. No biggie.
What’s comical was I saw the “no critics” and “judgement free” zone signs splashed across the gym walls. I found these tremendously contradictory. While Planet Fitness aims to keep a judgement free zone, they’re actually doing the opposite by classifying people as Lunks.
Sounds judge-y to me.
Moreover, even for a woman like me who enjoys lifting heavy, and at times, has to slam her weights down, I didn’t feel this was fair. In some ways, I’m a Lunk too.
Personally, I want a gym that won’t judge anyone for anything. Though Planet Fitnessis trying to send a positive message, it’s having the opposite effect.
Look: going to the gym is hard enough for people, even the Lunks who grunt and moan and make the ground rumble with their roars. They’re just trying to get in their lifts, and some have some zest within them, but Planet Fitness is discouraging their behavior by classifying them as “bad.”
If someone is bothered by Lunks, then maybe Planet Fitness is for you. However, I’m a big believer in putting your headphones in, doing you, and focusing on your own shit. Lunks will be lurking, but it’s up to you if you let that shit shake you.
For me, commercial gym shenanigans used to get on my nerves, but they taught me how to deal with adversity, uncomfortable situations, and focus on me without letting others’ actions ruin my workout.
It’s worth mentioning that Planet Fitness is trying to bullet proof us from a world of Lunks and commotion, but that’s not real life.
Real life is immersing yourself in the fullness of human behavior wherever you go. Not real life = Planet Fitness = Unicorns = LSD trips = Planet Fitness.
Even though membership is $10 a month and you get free tanning and tootsie rolls, are you truly supporting non-judgement and freedom to workout as you please?
Something to ponder.
Also, before I exit stage right, overall, my experience at Planet Fitness was positive. I got in a good workout, but I’m lucky enough to have access to a performance gym where I have access to more equipment for my specific fitness goals. Would I become a member at Planet Fitness? No.
But. It seems people who are members are fine with what is provided, what they can and can’t do, which is totally okay. And obviously, nothing beats their pricing.