Pros and Cons of Planet Fitness
Planet Fitness: Reviews, Complaints, and Perks
A gym membership is a big investment. If you're going to be paying hundreds of dollars for a membership, you want to make sure that the gym meets all your needs and that you like going there.
If you're thinking of joining a gym, you're likely considering Planet Fitness, which is one of the biggest national chains in the country. Well, I've been going to Planet Fitness for two years, and it works well for my lifestyle and I enjoy going there, it also has some serious haters (with valid reasons for hating it). Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if Planet Fitness is the right gym for you.
Planet Fitness Pros
1. Open 24 Hours
This may not matter for everyone, but it is really important for me since I'm an early morning exerciser. I take advantage of this by getting to the gym at 5:00 am every day, along with the ten or so people who are already there when I arrive. What I like about 24 hour fitness centers is that you don't have to plan your day around their hours, which makes it easy to avoid busy times. It also allows you to be a bit more spontaneous with your gym going. Maybe you just suddenly feel like going to work out at 9:30 at night.
2. Inexpensive Fees and Low Rates
I pay $20 a month for my PF membership – and that is for the highest level they offer, which includes unlimited tanning, one free guest per day, access to any Planet Fitness in the US, unlimited massage chair, and discounts on with a number of fitness apparel brands. I think the cheapest membership is only $10 a month. To compare, other gyms in my area charge between $30 and $50 a month.
I can only speak for the handful of PF's that I've been to, but all of them have seemed to be pretty clean. The locker room at my location is always really clean and well-stocked, and the shower curtains are changed often so there' s none of that mildew smell. Unlike a lot of gyms, I don't worry too much about touching the surfaces or machines. I do wish they would get the pre-moistened gym wipes instead of the paper towels and spray bottles though.
4. No Wait for Machines
Before graduating college I used my school's gym and if you went at a busy time you more than likely would have to wait for a cardio machine. By contrast, Planet Fitness has plenty of treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes for everyone. Personally I have never seen the cardio deck completely full; there is always at least a few of each type of machine available.
I also like that they do not have a time limit for the machines. I have been to some gyms where they limit you to a 30 minute block and don't allow you to sign up for back to back times which is a huge impediment to anyone who likes to run more than 3 or 4 miles.
Planet Fitness Cons
They encourage bad eating habits.
On the first Monday of each month PF has a "pizza night" where they give out unlimited free slices of pizza. The first Tuesday morning of each month there is free bagels and coffee. That's not all, they also keep a huge jar of tootsie rolls on the front desk and encourage people to take some as they leave. Some people have a theory that PF does this to impede their client's diets and force them to continue using the gym. I don't think that is quite their goal, but either way it is a bad thing for a gym to be doing.
2. Staff Isn't Knowledgeable
When I first went in to sign up for a membership, I was given a tour by one of the men at the front desk. As he took me around the gym he admitted that he didn't know how to use several of the machines. Personally I found this funny and wasn't concerned since I am experienced enough to know what I'm doing, but for a first time gym goer this could be a real problem that could cause an injury. Despite that I have always found the employees at my location to be friendly and in a good mood.
3. The "Lunk Alarm"
I have mixed feelings about the Lunk Alarm. Planet Fitness defines "Lunk" as "one who grunts, drops weights, or judges." The alarm will be set off when someone does any of those things. While I agree that some people take grunting way too far, you have to give them a little leeway. And dropping weights? Yes, it should be avoided, but it does happen. Would you rather have people drop a weight on the ground or struggle with it and possibly hurt themselves? (Note: I've never actually seen the alarm go off in my gym.)
4. Dress Code
Apparently Planet Fitness has a dress code that says "no jeans, no do-rags/skull-caps/bandannas, no boots/sandals." While most of that seems like common sense to me, I've also heard rumors that they don't let women wear crop tops, though I've certainly seen people wearing them.
Apparently, the dress code is also enforced at the discretion of local branch managers, who may have different preferences. There have also been a number of reports of the dress code being used to discriminate against certain clients, such as this pregnant woman who claims she was asked to leave because her clothes didn't cover her "bump" enough!
5. No Group Classes
My biggest complaint about PF is that they don't offer any sort of fitness classes. No pilates, no yoga, no spinning, etc. So, if that is they type of thing you look for in a gym, sorry, you will have to look elsewhere.
6. Hard to Cancel Membership
I have no firsthand experience with this, but I have heard from others that cancelling a membership at PF can be a challenge. If you cancel past a certain day then you will be charged for the entire month anyway. There have also been cases of people still being charged after their membership has been cancelled.
7. No Wi-Fi
Now I'm not sure if this is just in the gyms I've been in, but in the 10 or so I've visited across the country not a single one has WiFi. This may seem like a finicky request, however as someone who listens to a lot of Pandora and watches Netflix on the treadmill, those data charges add up! I know some of the higher-end gyms around me do have WiFi, and of course at the campus gym I can use theirs, but Planet Fitness would really get a boost in my eyes if they installed it, especially considering their large client base.
Is Planet Fitness right for you?
If you are an avid bodybuilder, probably not. If you are someone looking to get in shape or stay in shape, PF probably offers enough to satisfy you. If you have any experiences with PF that you would like to share, please feel free to comment.