Planet Fitness. You know, the purple gear gym with the giant golden thumb, the one that proudly spouts, “No gym-timidation!” in all of its radio ads. Founded in 1992, Planet Fitness gyms have been popping up all over the country with the appeal of being the best gym for the beginner, a haven for newbies, a place to turn around an unhealthy lifestyle and morph habits that produce a better self. A place where a 300-pound body builder knocked up on steroids lifting the weight of your current house is simply not allowed. A place where everyone feels happy and safe.
But if you’re truly serious about committing to healthier habits, steer clear of this place. The overarching philosophy of this institution is fundamentally against your new motives of self-improvement. These people don’t actually want you to get in shape. Their business model is to fight you on your quest for gains -- likely because they think it will keep you renewing your membership. They got the idea somewhere in their business planning to make it harder for people to get in shape and to appeal to a market of newbies, ensuring that their demographic will never run dry.
How do they stop people from getting in shape? A few ways, actually. These people aren’t too happy when someone with muscles struts through their doors. They have a strict dress code against “intimidating” clothes ( bandanas, skullcaps and jeans). Folks are commonly asked to change if they look too scary for others, keeping their muscles hidden from the eyes of others.
Another example is the lack of nutritional guidance given to the patrons. At a gym, people are often looking for information about modifying their diet to complement the changes they’re making to their body in the gym, but at Planet Fitness, all that’s offered is weekly free pizza and candy. You know, the kind of stuff you want to stop eating.
The biggest way Planet Fitness increases the incline of your already uphill battle to your ideal self is their “lunk alarm,” an alarm that blares through the entire gym anytime someone is too motivated to lift heavy things. The alarm sounds when they are simply trying too hard -- more specifically when someone grunts, drops the weights, or is deemed judgmental. Once the alarm goes off, an employee will come over, inform you that you need to stop making difference in your life, probably wink, and slip you a slice of free pizza as you continue your workout with a little less motivation and a little more fear that big brother’s wrath will rain down upon you after your next intense exhale. Planet Fitness is afraid of intensity, afraid that people will become too dedicated to their new lifestyle, and afraid that too much muscle will be made. This anti-gains facility thinks that by keeping people from getting in shape, they’ll remain perpetual customers, but it’s more likely they will fall under dejection and give up.
What Planet Fitness doesn’t realize is that they don’t need to stand in the way of people getting in shape -- that’s what scarfing cookies, binging Netflix, and motivational deficiencies are for. The reason so many gyms already exist is because this is America; there will always be overweight, out-of-shape folks with New Year’s resolutions, mirrors, and more attractive best friends to get them to buy a brand-new long-term contract at a gym that’s willing to help them along. Getting or staying in shape is challenging enough without a business fighting you the whole way, and although it may be intimidating, going to a gym where ripped, sexy individuals already prowl the premises may just give you the motivational kick in the ass you need to keep coming back.