Why Planet Fitness Really Grinds My Gears


 

I am by no means a meathead, I don’t think.  I incorporate actual research into my workouts and nutrition, not bro-science.

I think of myself as an educated individual that takes my scientific background and applies it to the gym.

I am a firm believer in the fundamentals.  That is why I am a Tim Duncan fan.

I think a firm foundation will set you up for anything you want to do.  Much like a solid foundation will support a house.

I also think competition is what drives the human race to innovate and progress.  Take any sports figure from now and compare them to a sports figure in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.  We have running backs now that are bigger, faster and stronger than offensive linemen from those eras.  There is a reason college powerhouses always put up good seasons.  When talented people come together, competition peaks and the end product is much greater than if that talent was the biggest fish in a small pond.

For these reasons I don’t like Planet Fitness (PF).

Before I get any further into my soapbox rant, I will disclose that I was a Planet Fitness member for a while right after I moved to Massachusetts.  It was cheap and close to work.  So I have evidence and experience to back my claims.  I try not to take the popular opinion as my own.

I also applaud their marketing scheme.  Uniting a group of people against a stereotype “lunks” will keep them in business for a long time.  As long as there are non-bodybuilders or non-athletes PF will be packed.  Touché PF.

That’s about where my praise of them will end.

PF is not a gym.  It is an adult daycare.

So here is what grinds my gears about this planet of “fitness” …

 

Hypocrisy

 

They claim to be a judgment free zone however this sign will say otherwise.

PF Dress Code

Also, if a member complains about the way you dress saying you are too intimidating, you will be reprimanded.  Ladies forget about wearing just a sports bra to show off those abs you worked so hard for and deprived yourself of cheat meals for the past 3 months.  It’s intimidating, so cover that shit up.  Come to think about it, you’re too skinny, wear a XXL sweatshirt at all times when you are in the gym.  We wouldn’t want to give the members someone that has achieved something as a role model or something to aspire to be or be better than.

Seems like a trivial thing to start with but this illustrates my point of competition.  I understand that not everyone is competitive and I accept that. Not everyone will look at someone that is in better shape or stronger then themselves and say I will out work that person to be better than them.  That is what I do, it’s not what everyone does.  But if you do have that competitive side PF will not be the place to harness that side.  If you’re the strongest person at the gym, you need a new gym.  It is better to be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond if you want to keep progressing.

For people that don’t have that competitive side, I believe having a visual goal is extremely helpful.  That visual goal could be a picture from your fitness peak, an old PR, a future PR or someone that has attained a level a fitness you haven’t reached yet.  Regardless of what it is, keeping it in front of you can be extremely motivating.  But to the people on this planet of “fitness” goals and motivation are not allowed.  Do not progress or you might intimidate the other members.

See: Tracking Progress Like a Boss

 

Forget the Fundamentals

Forbidden exercises from PFNo barbells at PF

This email has so many things wrong with it from a fitness standpoint it makes it hard to contain myself.  I want to go in full on Hulk Mode.

The fundamentals of weight lifting do not exist here.  Exercises that have been around since weightlifting started are not present on this planet of “fitness”.

Deadlifts hold a special place in my heart.  I’ve used that almost exclusively to rehab from back surgery.

Squats?  A basic human function cannot be performed here.

T-bar rows?  One of the most beneficial back exercises, not performed here.

Let me illustrate my frustration with the lack of barbells and the fact they stress they have smith machines with a story…

My gym partner/client, male mid 40’s, has been going to the gym for about a decade.  Working out has never been his top priority it was more of something he had to do to stay healthy. And I am totally fine with this.   He worked out with people that almost exclusively performed smith machine bench press and a deadlift was never considered.  Every exercise they performed was on a machine.  So as you can guess the main muscles had size but the supporting muscle were non existent.  This is a recipe for a severe lack of strength and an injury waiting to happen.  He asked to workout with me around Thanksgiving of last year and I happily brought him on. In that time, I was doing almost exclusively doing barbell work to add strength and muscle and was flirting with the idea of deadlifting everyday.  He accepted what I was doing and went along with it.

See: Why I Deadlift Everyday

The first time he attempted a barbell bench press was a humbling experience for him.  95 lbs. and his arms were shaking like he had Parkinson’s.  I think he only got up 3-4 reps.  He was used to lifting double that on the smith machine for reps.  Within a week of working with me using the barbell he had put on 4 lbs. of muscle and his bench went up about 60 lbs. in a month while incorporated deadlifts everyday.  No use drugs or special supplements that you can get in the shady parts of the city. Just barbells and deadlifts.  You better believe I have his testimonial on my website homepage.

The smith machine does have its place at the end of a workout to further fatigue the larger muscles, but it does not take the place of a barbell if you want overall fitness.

 

Nutrition does not Exist

tootsie rolls PFPizza monday and Bagel Tuesday

I am all about cheat meals to keep you sane, keep your social life and enjoy this life you have.  However, when you give members free pizza, bagels and tootsie rolls you are trying to sabotage them.  The first rule of eating healthy is to remove temptation because will power only goes so far, regardless of who it is.  When I am dieting for a purpose, I limit the junk food in the house because that one moment of weakness could cascade into a habit.  By providing these treats you never encourage your members to evaluate their eating habits and how it can affect their health.  Your adding complacency to an already complacent population.

Carbs after working out are beneficial.  The caveat to that is that you get a good workout and deplete your glycogen store in your muscles.  Doing 10 minutes of walking on a treadmill followed by performing 3 sets of 10 without struggling on the smith machine and topping it off with a slice of pizza is not a formula for getting healthy.  It is a formula for wasting money and getting fat.

 

Stereotyping Members of Real Gyms

PF299 SM LUNK

Stereo typing members of real gyms as lunks is part of their marketing plan, I get it. Us against the world mentality.   But let me drop some knowledge about the lunks at my gym.  Yes, we wear tank tops to show off our arms.  We’ve worked hard on them. We do drop the weights sometimes after a set.  We also hydrate our bodies with water in gallon containers sometimes.  But we are also some of the nicest, most supportive, and motivated people you will meet.  Successful lawyers, doctors, surgeons and business owners all frequent my gym. Need a spot?  They’ve got you.  Need to find one of the best back surgeons in the city?  He’s squatting 350 lbs. right now.  He’ll talk to you when he racks the weight.

To lump everyone at real gyms as lunks who only lift things up and put them down is an insult and seems like a judgment to me.  Tisk, tisk PF.  There are some dicks I’ll admit, like everywhere even your PF, that go and judge people but those are the minority.

Lessons learned underneath a barbell can spill over into other aspects of life.  Hard work, the struggle, pushing your limits are all things you can learn at a real gym.  While learning that being complacent is “A-OK” is what you learn at PF.

And to be intimidated by people who push themselves and achieve something.

I will proudly be a lunk for life.

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Dave


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