About a year ago, the growing and much maligned Planet Fitness gym chain opened a new location near my Chicago home in Wrigleyville. They advertised a rock bottom $10 per month membership, and “24/5” hours: Open 24 hours a day on weekdays, from midnight Sunday/Monday until 7pm on Friday (then open 7am-7pm on Saturday and Sunday). Other locations have different hours, and many are open 24/7.
Planet Fitness is known, and to many notorious, for their misnomered ‘no judgment’ policy. The policy creates a strict set of rules designed to curb/deter fitness-bro behavior that is deemed intimidating to general gym-goers.
- No grunting
- No gallon jugs
- No wearing stringers/crop tops
- No deadlifting
- No dropping or slamming weights on the floor
- No bags on the gym floor
There are other restrictions, but those are the major ones.
The key feature to Planet Fitness is the presence of the Lunk Alarm, which is set off by staff when a violation of the above policies is clearly observed. This can result in staff intervention and ejection for the offending party.
To a lesser extent, staff may at their discretion quietly confront individuals exhibiting similar behaviors, though this doesn’t typically happen.
Fitness-Bro culture is nowadays very popular, built around the idea of lifting heavy and getting a bigger upper body through low rep, close to max weight compound workouts like this and this. They abhor any aerobic exercise beyond brief, high intensity interval cardio, typically eat a low carb, high protein diet with supplements designed to build muscle, and judge fitness largely on max lifting strength as well as upper body size and definition.
I can address this topic another time, but the above prevalent approach is basically a one dimensional definition of fitness and tends to promote a one dimensional lifestyle. I do not have a problem with people lifting for strength. I have a problem with the implication that it’s the only valid, useful way to work out.
So, needless to say, that crowd doesn’t like Planet Fitness. And because Bro Culture has done a terrific job of using the internet to promote their niche culture as a much larger demographic and voice than they actually are, they have long since successfully crafted a negative cultural movement towards the Planet Fitness brand.
I’m not going to claim all their reservations are unjustified. There are a lot of complaints about Planet Fitness that in some contexts are important. The gym is definitely not for everybody, and certainly not for the 5×5/SS/Stronglifts disciple whose fitness goals revolve around their upper body measurements and their one rep max in a handful of key compound lifts.
There are however a variety of positive, worthwhile fitness goals that are not that. And there’s a variety of ways to build strength and upper body definition that Planet Fitness can productively serve.