Right after I learned that the balance ball at my gym had gone *boom*, I happened to be near a local Planet Fitness that opened earlier this year.
I wandered in for a look-see, even though I wasn’t truly in the market for a new gym. I didn’t know anything about the Planet Fitness (PF) brand, and I expected it to be the standard mega-gym. Yes…and no.
My first impression was that it’s very purple. Most, if not all, of the weight machines are purple. Not that I have anything against the color, but there’s A LOT of it.
The second thing I noticed was a big sign that declared the gym a Judgement Free Zone where members “can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms.” Huh, I’m all for that. I decided to go ahead and take a tour.
You can see a commercial for Planet Fitness HERE to get the full picture. Their other offerings include lots of cardio equipment, circuit workout stations that operate on a red light/green light system (you change machines when the lights change), free weights, barbell stations, and other resistance training machines. No BOSU, stability balls, or balance boards.
One thing that impressed me was that members also get free fitness instruction with a standard membership. Instructor hours are posted, along with the type of instruction being offered at that time–abs, upper body, lower body, etc. Or you can make an appointment to get personalized guidance.
In addition to the judgement-free zone, PF also discourages the grunts, screams, and weight-tossing common among many body builder types, or lunks to use the PF term. In this gym, if you make too much noise, a Lunk Alarm sounds. Like so:
If the alarms sounds too often during your workouts, you’re asked to leave, and if you’re nasty about it, your membership can be canceled and you might be banned from PF nationwide. I’m guessing this guy was banned:
Really smart to tear up a gym that has your credit card number on file. But a big thumbs up to the (wo)manager who tossed him out! Agree or disagree with the policy, but that was gutsy!
Another way PF tries to limit lunkness is by offering free weights only to 75 pounds. This would not be a problem for me.
Memberships in my area are $10/month with a $29 sign-up fee. That’s the lowest fee in the area ($5 or so less than my cheap-o, currently stability ball-less gym), and I was surprised that the place was practically empty in the early afternoon. I asked my tour guide how many members they had, and she said 8,000. I clarified that I meant that particular gym, and she said 8,000. When they first opened, they waived the sign-up fee. Apparently, thousands of people joined but are staying home. So sad, both from a fitness standpoint and from a fiscal point of view.
Even with the teensy $5/month savings and the potential for personal instruction/advice, I’m not moving my membership. It’s only a couple miles from my house, but I’m not over that way very often. On that day, I just happened to be having a slice of Milano’s Pizza across the street. My current gym is less than a mile from my house, and I drive by it at least once per day. Hard to ignore a gym for too long when it’s right there.
Also, while it may seem to be a teensy thing, I don’t like the absence of stability balls. Most days, the last 10 minutes or so of my workout involve the ball, plus I use the ball instead of a bench sometimes for lifting to work more muscles or because none of the benches are available.
And then there’s that lunk alarm. As much as I dislike the grunting, yelling, and weight-throwing that sometimes occurs at my gym, I’ve been known to emit an entirely ladylike grunt or two, especially during those last 10 minutes or so when I’m doing jackknifes or planks or ball toe touches. I don’t think I’m as loud as the guys, but I’d be mortified if I set off an alarm.
All that said, it seemed to be a pretty decent gym. Well, as much as one can tell in a 15-minute tour. If you’re thinking of joining a gym, especially if it’s for the first time, Planet Fitness would certainly be worth considering. Heck, if money wasn’t an obstacle, I’d keep my current gym membership and spend the extra $10/month just to get the variety of the guided circuit workouts and the fitness instruction. (The pizza proximity would be an added bonus.)
So that’s my rambly report of my field trip to Planet Fitness. What do you think? Does the idea of the Lunk Alarm appeal to you? Scare you?
I’m back in the gym tomorrow morning. Here’s hoping the stability ball they ordered has arrived. My body is crying out for jackknifes.
REMINDER: The drawing for the Gaiam Yoga socks is Thursday a.m. You still have time to enter!