The opinions of this article represent my personal opinions and experiences at Planet Fitness gyms. Nothing stated in this article is intended to slander nor state pure facts about the business dealings and ethics of this gym with the general public. Again, this article is solely based on my own personal opinions of the gym chain Planet Fitness.
To give you an idea of my background with weights, I basically started out with minimal equipment, no supplements, and hardly any knowledge of working out or gaining muscle. However, I had a solid work ethic and a big heart when it came to achieving what I wanted from the gym.
I can honestly thank my uncle for getting me started in weightlifting because he got me a cheap weight set for Christmas one year. No, it wasn’t a bench or some multi-station, it was some plastic, sand-filled weight plates, a bar, and some small bars for making your own dumbbells with some cheap spring clamps that half worked after a few workout sessions.
The weight set sat in my closet in its original cardboard box for several months as I had no interest in it. But for some reason, one night I had this dream of transforming myself from a scrawny kid that blended in with a crowd, to a FUCKING BEAST that stood out wherever I went! Building my body more muscular seemed like the most feasible way to get recognition and stand out as an adolescent with no car, no money, and no self-identity.
You see, for me there were no daily wins back then. I didn’t have those daily wins with sports games, smoking hot chicks, or making decent money yet. I needed some wins in my life, and those wins began with hard work almost every evening in my bedroom with nothing more than my cheap plastic weights, a shit ton of push-ups, and sweat that soaked my T-shirt and dripped off my head onto my hardwood floor as I continued to push myself back up again and again.
NO MORE GETTING KNOCKED DOWN… IT WAS TIME TO PUSH BACK UP!
PUSH GOD DAMNIT!
PUSH MOTHERFUCKER! YOU DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU PHYSICALLY FAIL, NOT JUST WHEN YOUR MIND FAILS!
From my bedroom workouts every night with one of the only cassette tapes I had to jam out to, Metallica’s first “Kill em’ all” album, my workouts then transferred to my creepy, usually half flooded basement, that was dimly lit by a single light bulb.
I had traded my mountain bike for a weight bench and more weights. This was slightly nicer than the cheap sand filled plated I first had; this was an actual bench press that had a pad held together with duct tape, a half-rusted cable on the back for tricep pressdowns, and some actual cast iron plates to use.
Sometimes if I’m using a tricep pressdown in a commercial gym that sticks a little bit, I close my eyes in the middle of my set of pressdowns and reminisce about how I started out doing them. Sometimes that cable that sticks a little bit takes me back to that dark basement with my weight bench I traded my bike for.
You see, nice shit didn’t fucking matter to me because all I needed were things to get the job done. Resistance was resistance back then and hard work was hard work…PERIOD! With enough sweat equity and effort, I would build my body bigger one way or another. I would learn as I went, and when you want something bad enough you will do what it takes to get it. You’ll force yourself to learn how to do it because your passion for it drives your learning curve.
The long and short of what I’m saying here is that nobody handed me jack shit when it came to building muscle. The internet was new, nobody spoon fed me information, and every piece of the puzzle I acquired I made max use out of to the fullest extent!
After my home basement gym days, I finally got into a real gym that was in the basement of an old YMCA. Actually, that old YMCA was the poorest and most run-down YMCA’s I’ve ever been to, but I was finally in a real gym. There were no tanning beds (I didn’t know what those were yet), no shake bars… Hell, half the time the fucking water fountain didn’t even work! There weren’t usually any chicks to look at, no personal trainers, and no music played in the background.
But I had never been in another real gym before in my life, it was pretty much all I knew so I embraced it. And after all of my grueling bedroom workouts with my sand filled weights, and after all of my dungeon workouts in my home basement, I was now in a real gym.
And you know what?
I STILL FELT LIKE ONE OF THE WEAKEST ONES IN THERE!
So that’s a little story for you about where I come from and how I got started with building muscle.
HARDCORE ISN’T YOUR GYM, IT’S YOUR MIND!
You might be asking yourself at this point, what does this article have to do with Planet Fitness gyms? Well, it’s pretty simple for me actually. You see, I can build muscle and burn fat anyplace I train because I started off with very little and most of what I initially learned about packing on muscle was self-taught.
Someone who came from a dark and dirty basement with a cheap bench that he traded his bike for, doesn’t necessarily look at what a place DOESN’T HAVE, he looks for what it DOES HAVE!
Now, with that being said, I think that Planet Fitness is a terrible gym for someone that is new to the gym and serious about building muscle. I didn’t say it was a terrible gym for someone that just wanted to get in shape, but I just don’t think it’s a good first gym for a man who wants to pack on enough muscle to stand out in a crowd.
It’s not that you can’t get it done there, it’s just the fact that the gym is too cush and easy-going for someone who doesn’t have a hardcore mentality. You build a hardcore mentality by doing shit that is actually difficult and coming out on the other side. You adapt to your environment until you excel beyond that environment and set yourself apart.
I’m not saying that people in that gym aren’t working, because they usually are. You see, my theory on it is that because a lot of people in Planet Fitness are new to the gym, their minds are more willing to go to work because they are new to it and want to put forth enough work to actually see the results.
Unfortunately, most people in that gym aren’t willing to push through pain. Yes, they’re moving, but that’s about it!
You can forget any intensity; you really aren’t going to see too many people pushing to failure in that place. So, if you’re new to it all then the pussification of the lack of intensity in that place might rub off on you and that’s never a good thing… unless you’re satisfied with just looking average instead of the sack of whale shit you used to look like.
Congrats pal, you are no longer whale shit, you’ve graduated to average motherfucker!
Now, there is a plus side to some of the Planet Fitness gyms I’ve been to. There aren’t as many conversations going on and people are actually working out. I didn’t say they were working out hard, but they are in there working out since they’re new to it all, and that’s more than I can say about even some of the Gold’s gyms I’ve been to.
Planet Fitness does seem to be a place where people sign up to work out rather than socialize from what I’ve seen.
HOWEVER, just because they’re not socializing as much doesn’t mean they understand gym etiquette either. Expect a lot of ignorant fucks to get in your way at this gym. Everything from standing in front of the dumbbell rack (I seriously want to bash someone’s fucking head in when they do this!) to laying their phone or water bottle on a bench to guard it while they walk off, to spending an hour on nothing but a Smith machine doing their humpy-hump air fucker exercises.
It’s going to come across like there are a lot of selfish assholes in this gym, but they can’t help it because most people are fucking stupid now and they lack common sense anyways. Now, throw in someone who is brand new to the gym but lazy, why in the world would they put in the work to step back 6′ from a dumbbell rack? No, that takes too much energy!
But realistically, they don’t know any better and they are doing what they see everyone else doing because…well they don’t know shit! It’s like having an older dog that is a terrible dog and then getting a puppy that watches the older dog rip apart the trash and shit on the floor.
Many of the people in Planet Fitness are like those puppies that tear open the trash and shit on the floor because they’ve learned from idiots! So, you have that to deal with at a lot of those gyms and at a more serious gym people can learn from well behaved dogs with good gym etiquette.
MANY OF THE WEIGHT MACHINES AND DUMBELLS DO NOT GO HEAVY ENOUGH
For beginner and intermediate bodybuilders, the name of the game is progressive resistance. Progressive resistance means getting stronger and handling heavier weighs on the regular.
If you bench pressed 135 lbs this week, you try for 140 lbs next week, and so on (you can forget bench pressing a free-weight barbell at a Planet Fitness gym, they only have Smith machines which are usually taken by someone and dumbbells that cut off at 75 lbs.)
The darNdest thing about being an advanced bodybuilder is that you can benefit from using lighter weights in a way that a beginner cannot. You see, someone advanced has already built their base and they can contract their muscles in a way a beginner or sometimes intermediate trainee cannot.
Yes, what I’m saying here is that there is a high likelihood that you as a beginner cannot benefit from curling with 15 lb dumbbells as to where I as an advanced bodybuilder can. I’m in a place with my training that most people don’t get to because they quit doing it before getting to that level.
With the lack of barbells and dumbbell cutoff of 75 lbs at this gym chain, you are short-changing yourself by training at this gym if you are still trying to grow.
Now, with that being said, you can make excellent progress and great beginner gains using dumbbells for presses and doing exercises such as push-ups, weighted push-ups, bench dips and weighted dips with a couple 45’s in your lap, pull-ups, tricep and bicep dumbbell work, and dumbbell rows.
What I’m saying here as that with the right work ethic and mentality, you can build a great physique at this gym for as little as $10 or $20 a month (depending on which type of membership you pay for).
I have a black card membership that includes tanning, and the tanning beds alone are worth the membership cost itself! Many Planet Fitness gyms have high end tanning beds that would cost you upwards of $60-$120 a month to use in a tanning salon.
Not to mention, if you go to a Planet Fitness in a predominately black community, it’s pretty much a given that the bulbs are always brand new from lack of use, so you’ll get a darker tan.
If you’re looking for a place to work out and be active, hit the tanning bed, and just get in shape then there is nothing wrong with this gym chain. Just keep in mind that this gym is a franchise as well, different locations may be stricter on rules than others.
I will tell you this though…
Despite the whole “anti-bodybuilding” deal this place seems to put out there, I have never been talked to about a stringer tank top, don’t get fucked with about my water jug at MOST LOCATIONS, and have never heard the “lunk alarm” go off for anybody.
Bodybuilders that go into this gym and make a scene to set off the alarm are really just assholes. Nobody is forcing you to train at this gym chain!
NOT ALL PLANET FITNESS GYMS ARE CREATED EQUAL IN TERMS OF GOOD EQUIPMENT
This one right here is probably my biggest knock on this gym if I had to give it one…
The equipment in SOME of the Planet Fitness gyms is STRAIGHT FUCKING GARBAGE!
I’m talking about Smith Machines that feel like they’re going to break your wrists twisting the bar off them to start your sets, certain machines that I don’t seem to fit as well in, and planes of motion that don’t feel are as natural as a Nautilus or Hammer strength machine.
Some of the workout machines at certain locations (many of the newer locations) just feels cheaply made and I can tell you right now that Matrix gym equipment feels like garbage to me, and this seems to be the equipment line that many locations are gravitating towards lately.
What kind of lazy motherfucker needs a machine that automatically counts their reps for them digitally? Seriously, some of these machines have a digital rep count display on them for those that are too stupid and/or unmotivated to actually count their reps.
No, I’m not even joking here, the machine displays your rep count if you’re too dumb to know how to count. This is probably the most extreme level of pussification I’ve ever seen in a gym!
Don’t even get me started on the stride length of some of the elliptical cardio machines. Now, I myself stand 5’9″ tall, so I’m not tall by any standards but I’m not short either. Maybe someplace like Finland I’d be considered short, but in America I’m probably average height.
On some of the elliptical machines in this gym I guess I’m midget status because I swear to God they molded the stride length to Forest fucking Gump’s legs when he had the braces, or they pulled some carni dressed like Uncle Sam on fucking stilts into the elliptical machine making factory and molded the damn thing to his leg stride!
Not that I’m a huge fan of the elliptical for cardio to begin with, but sometimes I do use it depending on my energy reserves after a grueling workout. Sometimes I’ll just be on that thing thinking to myself, “What the fuck is this shit? Whose fucked up legs did they mold this stride length after? THIS THING FEELS LIKE A PIECE OF GODDAMN SHIT!
But the stair-climbers and treadmills are perfectly fine here, no worries about those at all. Like I said, there’s enough to get it done and have a good workout if you have the killer instinct mentality. The trouble is, if you’re new then you don’t know what good and bad equipment is anyways.
For someone who is a seasoned gym vet, you just learn what gyms have decent equipment and which ones don’t, and not all of the Planet Fitness gyms are created equal in terms of workout machines. I will say though, it seems like a lot of the newer ones are going with cheaper equipment.
For example, a leg press that only holds up to 6 plates per side and has an angle on its foot platform that feels like it’s going to snap your fucking tibia bones in half. Just all in all, shit made equipment for shitheads that are too stupid to know any better!
THE POSITIVES OF PLANET FITNESS GYMS
So, by this point you’re probably asking yourselves, “If this gym is so terrible, then why does he go there?”
Let me start by saying that this isn’t my only gym, but I do occasionally train at Planet Fitness gyms and I’m going to explain to you all why I do.
For starters, I’ve been at this game now for over 26 years and like I said, I can get it done anywhere because I believe hardcore is all a frame of mind. The purple and yellow machines don’t phase me, and the environment doesn’t demotivate me. I keep enough focus and intensity within my own mind that it truly doesn’t matter.
But I probably wouldn’t have developed that by training in a gym like a Planet Fitness gym as a beginner. Pizza night at a gym wouldn’t have worked in a very marketable way back when I began working out. But the whole “Hey, come on down here and hit a few sets and eat some pizza you fat fuck” sort of caters to the masses nowadays (no pun intended).
Another positive on this gym would be its hours and availability. This gym rarely closes and if you need a gym at 3 am its available, and that’s an awesome thing for people who work an odd work schedule. It’s also great for someone that travels often for work or even lifestyle!
Think about someone such as a truck driver or train conductor who historically didn’t have access to a gym die to their work. Now, they have access to work out in almost any location they may be in, and because of that they’re healthier and have a great mental and physical escape from an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle due to work constraints.
When I see a rig parked in the parking lot of a Planet Fitness gym it brings me a sense of happiness for whoever might be in that gym that has to go back to that truck after the workout. I have a lot of respect for truck drivers and the jobs they do for us because it’s a job I don’t think I could do.
Also, not everyone’s priority is to look like some sort of Greek god (It’s a shame, right?). Some people just want to be healthy and not overweight, or maybe they just like the gym for the stress relief and mental escape it can provide. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a different goal other than looking like a spartan from the movie 300.
Do I think your goal is cool? FUCK NO!
But there is nothing wrong with different goals and who am I to say who should be doing what? I can respect someone that is staying active and in the gym in any event!
Another positive with this gym would be the cost of your membership here. Some people are just getting started in life, or maybe they’ve been to the top and then they got financially knocked down. The low monthly membership cost at this gym is a way for people to come back up in a way that gyms didn’t offer even 20 years ago!
I feel like the gym is a realistic and affordable way for someone to work out with weights. Maybe you just got released from prison and are trying to get started off in the real world again? Planet Fitness would be a good option for ex-cons, especially the one I occasionally go to that’s full of college pussy!
Another positive of Planet Fitness gyms is they allow you to gym hop. Why do I gym hop you may ask? Simple, I get sick of people talking to me in the gym! Sometimes I’d rather be in a Planet Fitness gym here nobody knows me over a “more hardcore gym” where people won’t leave me the fuck alone!
I don’t feel like talking to Mr. injury, I get sick of gossipy stay at home moms taking up space chatting it up, and sometimes the trainers that have clients in better shape than them irritate me.
Sometimes the more traditional gyms actually irritate the hell out of me more than the people in Planet Fitness just lifting weights do!
You want to know why? Because I’d rather be around people actually moving and trying than dickheads standing around in my way! You see, there’s a fucking difference between someone that doesn’t know any better who is really trying (even if I feel their intensity sucks), and someone that DOES KNOW BETTER who is just inconsiderate as fuck and in my way!
I sort of look at Planet Fitness as that gym with Down syndrome; it’s genuine and just wants to help, but it doesn’t know any better -JD
Another positive of Planet Fitness gym is that you can bring a guest for free. This is a great fringe benefit of the membership for the kind of guy looking to work out with chicks so they can get to know them enough to sleep with them (it usually takes about an hour nowadays, which is about the average workout time, what a coincidence!)
Now, by no means am I saying that you should divert your workout energy to always training with chicks you want to fuck, but working out and then lunch is a great way to swoop on in there and stick your dick in em’!
Or let’s just say you’re a guy with nobody to hang out with. Now you have something to do and maybe working out will be your way to make a friend or have something to go do with someone to better yourselves. I’m being serious here; this is a great option for someone that maybe just needs a buddy or a workout partner, and you can grow off each other’s energy and transform together.
If you do feel alone, the gym can be your best friend. I used to pick up hitchhikers on the weekends just to have a conversation with someone. I’d tell people this and they’d say, “What if that guy tried to kill you?”
I’d tell them, “Then I would have had to fight them off, and it would make for an even greater story!”
How’d I deal with periods of loneliness and feeling empty? Easy. I DESTROYED THE GYM… I IMPROVED MYSELF. The gym always helped me get through a lot of tough shit in my life.
Aside from the whole anti-bodybuilder facade, this gym chain grew because they kept it simple and didn’t rake people over the coals. This could be another positive with this gym, rather than sign someone up for a 2-year commitment and then try to sucker them for another $1000 a month for some 1-day, online cert trainer, they actually show you how to use the equipment as a courtesy!
Yea, imagine that…. a fucking courtesy that comes with the membership if you don’t know how to use the equipment! So, I can definitely see the appeal in it for someone new or possibly an elderly person afraid to use the machines.
If YOU’RE INTIMIDATED AND FEEL OUT OF SHAPE, THEN YOUR FAT ASS NEEDS THE GYM MORE THAN ANYONE!
Remember how earlier in this article I said that when I finally got into a real gym, I felt like the weakest guy there? Well, I certainly didn’t cry about it or point fingers at people that made me feel uncomfortable!
I made the mistake of once asking a guy in the middle of a set of heavy shoulder presses if he was using something in the gym, and he cornered me against a wall and practically threatened to kick my ass if I ever interrupted his set again! I didn’t leave the gym to never return, and I didn’t go tell the front desk on him like some bitch-ass rat!
No, you know what that experience did for me? It opened my eyes to someone that was in the zone. I actually respected that dude and realized that sometimes when you’re doing something truly difficult, your mind needs to go someplace deep down dark, and the last thing you need is some newbie kid interrupting your set.
It was all good to me, I said to myself, “I’m going to get big like that guy one day.” And you know what weight he was using back then? A set of 85’s for maybe 8-10 reps on overhead dumbbell presses.
I thought back on that guy one day after I got done with a set of overhead dumbbell presses with 130’s x 10 reps.
The point to what I’m saying here is this; Why is it someone else’s fault that you feel intimidated?
If you’re some fat fuck who ate his way into WHALE SHIT METAMORPHOSIS, why is that my fault?
If you look like God got done making people and at the last second decided to shit out your genetics, why is that my fault?
Remember how I said that not all Planet Fitness gyms are the same? Well, the worst ones tend to be the ones that are part of the original majority chain ownership, not the smaller franchises. The stricter ones are going to be the majority owned chain, trust me.
But in all honesty, the one I go to on occasion could give a rat’s ass if you’re in a tank top, have on a Slayer shirt, or occasionally drop a dumbbell or weight stack a little louder than library level noise.
The employees are always friendly, and I’ve never had an issue in that gym. I don’t pay attention to some of the stupid propaganda hanging on the walls about who belongs and who doesn’t, who deserves a pat on the back, or who needs their dick sucked. Nope, I’m just in there to hit a good workout and go home.
And I can work out anywhere, so it really doesn’t matter to me.
IS PLANET FITNESS A GOOD GYM AND IS IT WORTH IT?
It depends on what you’re looking for here. I think in a lot of ways it’s a good gym, and in some ways it’s not a good gym. But like I said, the gym is in my head, the war is self-created, and I can bring intensity with me anywhere.
It’s a good gym for the businessman or woman who travels and needs a gym they can utilize in different locations.
It’s a good gym for the hours.
It’s a good gym for the price, the tanning option, and the ability to bring a chick you’re just trying to fuck (or just a guest).
It’s not a good gym if you need a good first gym and you truly want to be huge.
So, in some ways it’s good and in other ways it’s not, but ultimately it comes down to you and your work ethic.
HARDCORE ISN’T YOUR GYM, IT’S YOU!
5 thoughts on “Planet Fitness Gym – An Honest Review from a Bodybuilding Perspective”
“[T]he machine displays your rep count if you’re too dumb to know how to count. This is probably the most extreme level of pussification I’ve ever seen in a gym!”
When I first started in the gym, myself, before I knew anything about anything, I had a list of exercises from my Occupational Therapist and a crappy workout program from a book I read. I worked out a PF for about 4-5 months and they asked me to leave. They informed me that I was too intense and disruptive because I came to the gym every day except Sunday at that time.
What got them pissed was I was in a Smith cage doing overhead presses. I am tallish… about 6’2″ and I was bumping the top of the cage with the bar. (Couldn’t help it) A giant fat-ass standing next to me went and complained that I was grunting and banging the bar and that it was disrupting his “experience…”
So they basically told me that if I was going to keep making so much noise and “monopolizing” the equipment and grunting I’d have to leave. So I asked for a refund and cancelled my membership after I finished my sets. (I got the refund too).
I went in there about a year ago, when I had lost 162 pounds and looked like a very different guy. A woman that worked there as a cashier was now the manager and was shocked at how I looked. She wanted to know if I wanted to rejoin and I said no, I just wanted to reminisce while my wife was shopping across the street….
I will say, while I was there it was not a very athletic friendly gym, I was told by her that they tend to pick on people who spend more than 45 minutes at the gym because the owner doesn’t want to pay for them to shower, use the shampoo, etc.
Seriously??? I also did not know they were a franchise.
But I went to another gym, at the same exact price point that caters to more athletic people and it was a better experience. As for pussification, the gym environment was mainly people that looked like stringy weaklings and giant fat-asses. There were maybe 3 or 4 people in any given day that looked seriously physically fit.
I use PF very similar to you. I have a PF membership, but also go to a great hardcore gym that has everything a serious bodybuilder could want. The combo gives me options, which is a nice luxury. A few specific thoughts:
1. I joined PF specifically because I travel frequently for work. If you have the black card, PF is hard to beat for travel. Gyms all over the place, and I’ve never had a single issue using an out of town gym.
2. PF’s aren’t all the same. Because they’re franchises, the vibe can be quite different between gyms. I changed my home gym because the one I started with did a poor job maintaining their equipment and the mix of inconsiderate clients was annoying the shit out of me. Moved to a different PF that has a great vibe and is perfectly maintained. PF made it simple to change home clubs online.
3. I don’t think PF would be a good exclusive gym for a serious lifter. No free weights, limited range of dumbbells, and missing some key machines for variety. I also have a membership at a hardcore gym that’s insanely well-equipped, and is the go-to place locally for physique competitors. It’s great to have both options, depending on what I’m doing any particular day and what mood I’m in.
4. The PF membership is IMHO worth it just for access to the tanning & hydro massage beds.
Would be nice to see videos of how to do proper reps for every exercise. Especially from your perspective. You’ve been around for a while, just surprised you haven’t already made those videos.
I have used planet fitness out of convenience for about 5 years now minus when it was shut down for Covid. Agree with a lot of what you said here. I wrestled D1 in college so know how to lift and workout with getting things down. Planet fitness is severely limited by not having free weights and limiting their dumbells to only 75 lbs. There are a lot of the Olympic lifts that you simply cannot do there or you will max out quickly with dumbell alternatives. It’s quite annoying and frustrating. But, I work very odd hours as a neurosurgery resident and need the flexibility to goto the gym at anytime; especially late into the evenings. So, there hours are super convenient for my schedule. I’ve looked into other gyms around my area and they simply don’t offer the hours needed for my schedule. As for the other people there, it can be frustrating at times. They only have 3 smith machines so anytime you need to do squats, deadlifts, BO rows, RDLS, etc. you have to get onto one of these machines and a lot of times you’re waiting for someone who’s doing hip thrusts or bench press. I’ve learned to build my workout around it but can be quite annoying if you have to wait. Overall, I would say it’s a decent gym for someone who needs to stay in shape or maintain their physique but anyone interested in serious bodybuilding or athletics will be disappointed. For me, I understand the trade offs and drawbacks of planet fitness, but it offers what I ‘need’ at this point with my schedule and lifestyle at this time. My objective is In/Out and done as quickly as possible with the least distractions/inconveniences.
Right, once you finish neurosurgery residency I’m sure you’ll find something much more accomodating and it won’t matter whether it’s $10 a month or $100 per month, I’m sure you’ll do just fine! Thanks for following JDB! -JD