I get asked a lot about the relatively new Planet Fitness gym marketing campaign of their "Judgement-Free Zone" that mocks a few choice meatheads (if they pay me enough, they can mock me too!). I do love the commercials, I do think they are very funny, and I think Planet Fitness should be commended for their creativity and message that can appeal to the masses. They are one of the only full size gym chains that are actually growing while traditional chains like Gold's Gym are stagnant and that deserves some recognition. That all being said, I do have some other commentary on Planet Fitness' marketing and their gym chain as a whole.
|Interestingly enough, there has been a moderate amount of humorous backlash against Planet Fitness |
from the weightlifting and bodybuilding community, like this Tshirt above
A lot of people out there, myself included, have joined a Planet Fitness because it is only $10-20 a month for a gym membership that provides all of the basics you need. They have plenty of cardio machines, nautilus machines, and enough free weights for most individuals. They have other basics like locker rooms, a few exercise classes, and a couple personal trainers. Some of them are new and pretty nice, others are converted from previously failed Gold's Gym or World Gym locations and just given a black and purple facelift.
To a person like myself who can do a great workout with just a pair of dumbbells, it has more than enough equipment than I'll ever need. To other individuals used to more bells and whistles, Planet Fitness may be a little bit sparse.
But the real truth about Planet Fitness is that it wants to lure in as many lazy people as possible to get gym memberships and have as little of them show up as possible. Planet Fitness prides itself in having the lowest member use rate in the industry, somewhere around 8% of their paying members actually show up at any given time. That means they can oversell their facility big time and make their money from volume instead of membership price. Their price is also so low because they skimp on customer service, employee training, employee qualifications / pay, group exercise classes, and various other benefits and extras that are offered at most gyms these days. These gyms are also usually not the cleanest and broken machines go a long time without repair. Overall, it is pretty much a skeleton crew running the place and you should expect only the basics.
And of course there is the humorous yet misleading message of the commercial that all bodybuilders and weightlifters are egotistical morons. I understand that Planet Fitness wants to appeal to the average person and a lot of people are intimidated or uncomfortable around elite weightlifters and bodybuilders. I also understand that they do not want these individuals as members because they ACTUALLY USE THEIR MEMBERSHIP!!! Planet Fitness hates people like me that actually show up and get more than their money's worth, that isn't profitable for them. The truth is, there are a lot of meathead assholes out there with brains the size of walnuts. Shows like Jersey Shore aren't helping to end that stereotype. That doesn't mean that everyone with a muscular physique or physical drive is like that, it is a gross stereotype and hypocritical JUDGEMENT to sell more gym memberships to fitness n00bs. I've met some extremely kind, intelligent, and well-educated bodybuilders, powerlifters, fitness models, and athletes over the years. I think most of them, like myself, tend to just laugh at these commercials because they are so ridiculous. Maybe we've also met one or two people like those portrayed in the commercial over the years as well. While these commercials and anti-bodybuilding marketing gimmicks aren't worth getting annoyed over, I think they are certainly worth some criticism right back at Planet Fitness.
What kind of "gym" offers pizza nights and bagel mornings anyways?
Michael J. Schiemer B.S. CPT
Owner of FRUGAL FITNESS Worldwide Wellness & Elite CheapskateOwner & Personal Trainer of RESULTS Private Fitness Boston, MA
Author of The Frugal Diet, The Frugal Workout, & The Ultimate Fitness Guide Series
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