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Behind Enemy Lines: Planet Fitness Report
I won’t go into depth about WHY I had to lift at Planet Fitness today, because that’s not important, but I’m out of town, and a friend told me I could go to her gym as a guest. I later discovered that this “gym” was Planet Fitness. “Goodness me,” I exclaimed.
Chapter 1 - First Impression
Today was the day. My friend drove me to the local mall, where we went down an escalator to get to the Planet. Upon walking in, I was immediately on alert.
“Keep calm, Steve, act cool. Tell them it’s your New Year’s resolution or something! Good thing you didn’t bring your chucks or Oly shoes today; they’d never believe you.”
My friend had warned me that there were no barbells, only dumbbells. I walked about the purple prison, complete with chain-link fences, looking for any free weights, or a pullup bar. Finding only hamster wheels and resistance machines, I started to panic.
“Where am I? Oh God. Where are the squat racks, and the barbells? Where are the dumbbells?! YOU PROMISED!” I screamed internally, looking frantically about for an exit.
Chapter 2 - Save Me
Finally, I found the dumbbells. They only went up to 75 lbs, but that’s good enough for me, I guess. I wanted to start with the dumbbell variations of Oly movements, but I was right underneath the largest siren I’d ever seen, labeled the Lunk Alarm. I knew what it meant, and I figured explosive movements would just be tempting them. Besides, the dumbbells only went up to 75 lbs.
So I started with dumbbell presses. I warmed up with some 30s. I slowly realized everyone was looking at me. Let me describe the layout to you: There are GIANT mirrors on the longest wall. In front of them are the dumbbell racks, against the mirror-walls. Behind that area are all of the treadmills, stationary bikes, and other simulated-movement sadness. As I mentioned before, these are fenced in with waist-high chain-link. Odd, I thought.
Chapter 3 - Judgement Free or Judge Hard
But, as I began to lift the dumbbells over my head, I looked in the mirror, not at my gorgeous reflection, but at the squadron of individuals behind me, racing in place, and staring at this freak in sweatpants before them. I’m sure they were wondering, “Isn’t he even going to do some jogging to warm up?”
Next, I grabbed some 45 lb dumbbells, and did 3 sets of 5 reps. I was very careful to monitor my breathing and not make squat-face-like faces. I placed the dumbbells down carefully between sets. Every time I looked into the mirror, I found twenty pairs of eyes staring at me, as if there WEREN’T televisions right above me. There were.
Perhaps they were staring in amazement. “Nobody can lift the 45 lb dumbbells out of the rack,” they might have been thinking, “yet this man has raised them above his head!”
Chapter 4 - How Hard Is It To Buy A Real Pullup Bar
After my presses, I looked for a pullup bar. I found only an assisted pullup machine, which was set to the highest weight of assistance. “I would rocket through the ceiling if I used that weight!” I thought to myself. So I unloaded it, grabbed a 45 lb plate to place on the lever, and tried to do some pullups. With my feet down, they touched the floor at the bottom of my hang, so I pulled my feet up. Unfortunately, there were two stairs to assist people to climb up to grab the pullup bar and mount the assistance lever. My feet landed on these when I pulled them up. I managed to get a frustrating 4x10. I didn’t care enough to do my fifth set. Plus, I wanted to do some rows later.
“Sigh,” I sighed.
Chapter 5 - More Bullshit
I continued to do more pressing, going 3x8 @ 50 lb incline dumbbell presses, and 3x10 @ 55 flat dumbbell presses. During this, some New Years Resolvers were getting a tour of the facility, led by a stringent blonde.
“We don’t cater to bodybuilders or powerlifters…” she said as she walked behind me. I could only hope she looked down at me with disapproval.
As I sat on my bench between sets, I looked around. There were some entertaining signs. Every first Monday was Pizza Monday. Every second Tuesday was Bagel Morning. Rats! I had missed both.
The best, however, was the Lunk Alarm, which I must return to. Beneath it was their definition of a “lunk” (slang), and they went so far as to use it in a sentence.
“Ricky is dropping his weights, wearing a bodybuilding tank top, and drinking from a gallon water jug…what a lunk!”
Yeah, fuck you Ricky, with your heavy weights, gay-ass clothes, and WATER. Stop drinking so much goddamn water, you fucking fuckhead! Fuck. Did I get carried away? No? Okay good.
Judgment-free zone indeed.
There was also a dude doing what I will call yoganastics. He had two 65 lb dumbbells and a yoga mat. He stood the dumbbells upright, and placed his hands on each, and his head on the mat. He kicked his legs out behind him like a horse, and did a sort of handstand, kicking his legs behind him, frog-style. “What the fuck?” I thought, confusedly. “How is he NOT setting off the Lunk Alarm?” Furthermore,
I knocked out 5x10 @ 75 lb dumbbell rows to finish. Basically everything between my ears and solar plexus is sore, but nothing else. ”Is this was all those bros feel like?” I wondered.
I also chose not to do any Farmer’s carries today. 75 lb dumbbells would take quite a while to wear down my grip, and I didn’t want to be chased out with torches and pitchforks.
“Steve, you’re such a fitness elitist! Go to hell and die, but not in that particular order.”
Yes, I know that not everybody has the same fitness goals. So I will say this: Planet Fitness is good for the New Years Resolutioners. People likely feel more comfortable if it’s their first time inside of a gym. Good for them. Additionally, it’s cheap. They advertised as $10 each month, which is extremely affordable. Good for them.
However, I have some legitimate concerns. Fitness is more than your weight, or even your body composition. I care a lot about strength, of course, and not everybody does. But strength training is an essential facet of complete fitness. Planet Fitness has some strength training implements, but mostly people use machines, which I think is a serious problem. Jogging doesn’t get people in shape any better than lifting, and I’d guess that VERY few of these individuals will ever transition to free weights.
This leads me to the following conclusion: Planet Fitness represents much of what is wrong with the American idea of fitness. People have this false idea that if they are out of shape, the ONLY way to get in shape is to jog and diet. This is WRONG.
I’ve talked to so many people that say they’re not in shape enough to lift. BULLSHIT. That’s the other idea, that losing weight is prerequisite to training for strength. (I just deleted about a paragraph-worth of me typing the word “wrong” over and over again, no lie.) I started my “fitness journey,” as so many people love to say, with a simple free weight routine. I didn’t have to get in shape to “earn” that. You can start right away. There’s no “graduation” in fitness, and the people who retain these ideas will probably never feel “ready” to begin lifting.
America: Stop marketing treadmills and resistance machines. You won’t get nearly the same results as you’ll get with a barbell. Change your idea of fitness, as a society.
"NO Deadlifting" Says Planet Fitness
Effective October 1st, absolutely NO deadlifting will be allowed, per Planet Fitness corporate regulations.
What’s next Planet Fitness? “NO Weightlifting will be allowed, ONLY Cardio.” I think I just vomited, a lot, onto my keyword, at the thought of a place like that. I bet all the walls and equipment would be colored something really fruity like yellow and purple. Come to think of it, a place that didn’t have free weights, was decorated like a Chucky Cheese ball pit, and whose clientele consisted entirely of fat girls and scrawny guys, would look a lot like a fucking PLANET FITNESS.
If you haven’t cancelled your Planet Fitness membership yet, get off this site. I don’t even want you here. I don’t. I’m not even going to apologize for it.
I don’t care how convenient the location is for you, what’s the point if Planet Fitness doesn’t even let you pick things up and put them down?
-Tony “Two Scoops” Muscoli
OMFG, this just happened, you guys!
It’s loooong and detailed, but if you like crime detection, read it. This just happened to Jeremey and I tonight…
Around 7pm this evening (February 2, 2013), Jeremey and I went to Planet Fitness (in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania) for some cardio. We were there for an hour, then left. We went straight home, which takes about seven minutes usually, but it had been snowing, so it was more like ten minutes. Jeremey immediately realized that he left his phone in the cup holder of the treadmill. I called Planet Fitness and only one employee was working, I told him where the phone was and he put me on hold. When he came back, he said that he didn’t find it and no one turned it in, but would let me know if it turned up.
We almost didn’t go back, but I remembered that Jeremey has SeekDroid on his phone, which tracks its location. I pulled it up online and it was showing that the phone was still at Planet Fitness. So, we went back, it was about 8:30pm at this point. The front desk guy, still the only one working, said no one turned it in yet. I started called the phone while we walked around the gym. We heard and saw nothing. How strange, because it was still showing on SeekDroid that it was still in Planet Fitness, near the front of the building.
Still calling the phone, we walked around the parking lot and checked trash cans. Nothing. Eventually, we gave up and left my contact info with the guy at the front desk and started to leave, this was about 8:50pm. I was still watching the SeekDroid tracker as we left the parking lot and it suddenly moved! The moment we’re leaving, the damn phone jumps from the front to the far back of the building! Jeremey did a u-turn and instead of going inside, we drove around the back of the building near the dumpsters.
I’ve never been so thankful for snow. In the back, there was only one car parked in that area (the front desk guy’s car) and two dumpsters. The back exit of the building is a small concrete platform with stairs that descend to the right of the dumpsters; the car was to the left of the dumpsters. We turned off the Jeep engine and I called the phone. No ringtone, but a loud vibrating coming from the dumpster. Let’s note here that Jeremey had left his phone’s volume all the way up (so he could hear it ring while he’s running). Jeremey jumped out of the car and the phone wasn’t inside the dumpster, BUT it was hidden in the side rail of the dumpster (the protrusion on either side of the dumpster that the garbage truck inserts the giant tongs into for lifting, if that makes sense).
What. The. Fuck. Which is exactly what I said. So we looked at the ground. The fresh snow made it obvious. Other than Jeremey’s footprints that lead from the Jeep to the dumpster, there’s only one other set of footprints. The second set walk from the LOCKED back door of Planet Fitness to the employee’s car, turn around lead to the area of the dumpster where the phone was found, and back up the stairs and into Planet Fitness.
I’m assuming that as soon as we left, the employee ran to the back to hide the phone. He may have tried to put it in his car, but forgot his keys, so he hid it in the dumpster’s “pocket” to retrieve later. At this point, we went back inside and Jeremey confronted him (peacefully) while I called the police. He was pretty surprised when Jeremey produced his phone from his pocket, then was noticeable nervous and defensive. We explained what happened to the police, they wrote a report, and we left. But before leaving, we heard one of the cops say, “This isn’t the first time I’ve been called to this business about stuff this.” The employee kept changing his story about the back door and said he only moved his car, but did admit they were his footprints… However, there were no tire marks in the snow and there was a thick layer of undisturbed snow on his windshield. And why, if you’re the only person on duty, would you suddenly need to move your car anyway?
I feel like a little detective. Jeremey used to be a federal officer and a police officer, so we followed the clues and used his skills to our advantage. Planet Fitness in Edwardsville, PA has a thief in its midst. The phone was recovered, the police were inquiring about the security cameras when they said we could go ahead and leave, and hopefully that guy will be fired. It makes me think, when I lost the iPod at the gym a couple of months ago, did it make it to the lost and found? Do employees feel like that’s some kind of free-for-all? And why in the hell did that guy want Jeremey’s phone so bad? Upon review of the phone, we pulled up everything he had been looking at when he had it. He went through Jeremey’s picture gallery and Facebook account. I can’t imagine he had much time to look at anything else, because I was calling the phone non-stop. Which is probably why he put it on vibrate.
Anyway. That happened tonight, hopefully Planet Fitness does something about it… Which is why I’m posting this here and sending them a copy.
Activity Log & PF
So I went to the gym with a friend today. I was his first day since buying his planet fitness membership. If you recall, I mentioned in a previous post I was considering this gym… Here I’ll list the pros and cons just to remind myself:
- Friendly people
- Clean and well marketed
- Large variety of machines
- Tanning with membership
- Open 24 HRS M-F
- Low Price
- There is so much “no critics, judgment free zone” stuff that I feel like I’m under the microscope. If I jump rope in this section will people be offended? If I lift heavy and make breathing noises or face gestures will people label me and pull the ‘lunk alarm’. I just couldn’t really relax… Which is ironic since this is the complete opposite of their goal.
- Very small free weights section. I was shocked… o.O
- Monthly pizza and bagel Mondays and Tootsie rolls at the front desk. Really?!
Here was my workout:
- 1 mile run at 5.8 mph (11 mins) / Walk Break / 1 mile run at 5.5 mph (12 mins) / .25 mile walk
- 1 mile elliptical on level 8, 4.5 - 5.5 speed
- Various bicep dumbbell exercises (10-15 lbs): curls, shoulder press, bench press, extension, etc.
- Oblique crunches with 10lb weight
- 50 sit ups, 15 knee push ups with shoulder tap
So yea, it was fun. I realize I hate running on a treadmill and really just go to the gym for their weights. But I don’t really like machines. I prefer free weights. So yea, I don’t think I’ll be spending my money at PF. Basically… I just really miss Crossfit and need to figure out a way that I can afford it…