In 2015, Insider called Planet Fitness the fastest-growing gym in America. As of 2021, Planet Fitness has over 2,000 locations and 14 million members.
With those numbers, we have to ask: is Planet Fitness a good gym?
Well, many say “yes,” but some would argue otherwise.
Planet Fitness is, without a doubt, a “real” gym. But if you want to find out why Planet Fitness is a bad gym and why it’s not actually that bad, then read on.
Why Planet Fitness is a Bad Gym
Where to begin? Despite the large numbers of members, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute around 63% of gym memberships go completely unused.
So of the 14 million people with a Planet Fitness membership, around 8.8 million do not actually use the gym at all.
Are they justified? Well, let’s see.
1. Pizza Nights, Bagel Tuesdays, and Free Tootsie Rolls
Now, I appreciate a good pizza night as much as anybody, but when you’re trying to stay healthy and slim, are greasy pizzas and free tootsie rolls sending the right signals?
You’ve been having weight problems for most of your life, and you’re finally committing to slimming down and chasing your fitness goals by becoming a Planet Fitness member. You’ve enforced a strict diet for yourself and that includes no pizzas, no candies, etc.
You enter your local Planet Fitness, ready to work out and lose a certain amount of calories–but wait! A Planet Fitness employee comes back hauling pizzas, and you’re hungry from working out and the smell fills the room…
You can see where things can go wrong.
Well, fortunately, the free pizza nights only happen on the first Monday of the month while free bagels are on the second Tuesday, so you can treat it as a reward for a month’s hard work. But coupled with Planet Fitness’ other flaws, it’s the cherry on top of the bad-gym cake.
2. Limited Equipment
Another big point is the lack of equipment at Planet Fitness, which is kind of a bummer.
PF is a very experienced-adverse gym. If you’re used to lifting large barbells, working with complex workout machines, or training with free squat racks, then a Planet Fitness gym membership might not be worth it.
Here are just a few of the examples of equipment Planet Fitness doesn’t have:
- Free weights past 60 to 80 pounds (it depends on your Planet Fitness location)
- No free barbells or Olympic weights
- No bench press
- No squat rack
- No roman chairs or hyperextension benches
You can find ways around the lack of workout equipment. For example, most Planet Fitness locations have smith machines, endless cardio machines (like stair machines), and more than enough resistance machines to design a full body workout.
But it’s a big disadvantage to the Planet Fitness chain at large.
3. Lunk Alarm
What is the lunk alarm? Well, there are two major rules in Planet Fitness:
- No loud grunting.
- No dropping weights loudly.
What happens if you don’t follow those rules, you might ask? Well, the employees ring the lunk alarm, which is a loud siren that warns you to stop.
Here are a couple guys that decided to have some fun with this Planet Fitness absurdity…
So basically, in the self-proclaimed “Judgment Free Zone,” they ring an alarm–potentially distracting others from their own workout–if they judge you’re too loud while working out in a gym.
You can’t make these things up, folks.
4. No Outside Personal Training
If you have a personal trainer and you want to look at cheap gym options to work out from, then don’t bother with Planet Fitness.
At Planet Fitness, you can sign up for group classes or ask for a one-on-one trainer, but you cannot bring a friend, a guest, or an actual outside fitness trainer to train you.
With the in-house provided trainers, most people don’t view this as a big deal, but to some, it’s a red flag flying in the breeze.
5. Banned Exercises
There are a few exercises that Planet Fitness doesn’t want you to do, whether due to a lack of equipment or the risk of a lunk alarm.
These exercises are:
- Overhead press
- Clean and jerks
A gym that bans certain exercises is not a good look. It’s especially not a good look for Planet Fitness through the “gym bro” community’s eyes.
Is Planet Fitness Worth It? It’s Not All Bad!
So I’ve told you how bad Planet Fitness is, but is the Judgement Free Zone as bad as it seems? Below is a list of reasons Planet Fitness is a good gym to spend your money on.
1. It’s Among the Most Budget Friendly Gyms
According to a 2021 gym price analysis, at $10 a month and $159 a year for a basic membership at your home gym (which includes free group fitness classes), Planet Fitness is the cheapest chain gym around.
Even the Black Card Planet Fitness membership pricing is cheaper than its competitors’ premium gym membership by $23+ a year.
The Black Card also gives you pretty cool perks, including convenient access to:
- Tanning beds
- Guest passes
- Regular massage chairs
- A red light therapy machine designed help you burn fat
- Unlimited access to all Planet Fitness locations
2. It’s a Judgment Free Gym
You know, aside from the lunk alarm.
Have no idea what you’re doing? It’s fine. No one is going to judge you for it.
Sweating profusely? No comment.
Wearing a weird outfit? Don’t we all every now and again?
Planet Fitness’s goal is to create a non-hostile environment, which is why the lunk alarm exists in the first place – to discourage noises and actions that can become intimidating for those who wouldn’t visit a gym otherwise.
Is the Judgement Free Zone perfectly judgment-free? Absolutely not.
Is it maybe better than most gyms that go more hardcore? Well, it depends on your preferences, but there’s a reason Insider called Planet Fitness the fastest-growing gym chain in America.
Someone has to like their vibe.
What is PE@PF? PE@PF is Planet Fitness’ group class.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Wasn’t this listed as a reason why Planet Fitness was bad?”
Well, no. I listed not allowing your own personal fitness trainer as a reason Planet Fitness is a bad gym. Allowing you to, at no extra fee, join group fitness classes is pretty good and actually makes Planet Fitness worth it.
Planet Fitness holds around 11 to 14 small group training sessions every day, led by a personal training and CPR/AED certified trainer.
By joining Planet Fitness, you can attend unlimited classes, like:
- 30-Minute Express Circuit (super basic circuit classes for beginners)
- Back and Triceps
- Chest and Biceps
- Legs and Shoulders
4. Lower Chance of Injury
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that powerlifting exercises that most gyms allow – like deadlifts and Olympic weightlifting exercises like cleans and snatch – can cause serious injury.
Lifting heavy weights adding up to half your body weight over your head? Yeah, there’s no way that can go wrong.
With the gym chain being so popular with beginners, the banned Planet Fitness workout equipment and exercises make sense. Planet Fitness does not want its members to injure themselves and so they do everything possible to reduce that risk, even if it means being viewed as less of a gym for it.
That’s why Planet Fitness has more resistance machines like back extensions and leg presses than they do free weights.
Is Planet Fitness a Bad Gym? The Answer…
Planet Fitness, like any other business or product, has its pros and cons, and it’s up to you, the individual, to decide whether it’s the right gym for your wants and needs.
A basic membership is great if you enjoy training on cardio machines, want to use basic weightlifting equipment to design your own program, and are at the beginning of your fitness journey. You can also upgrade to a Black Card membership if you need more features later on.
However, when you eventually need better equipment… or a hot tub… or something other than endless rows of cardio equipment and resistance machines… you might need to switch to a new gym.
Just remember though, free pizza.
Why is Planet Fitness So Bad FAQs
Why is Planet Fitness not a good gym?
Overall, Planet Fitness is a decent gym with cheap membership and fewer chances of injury. However, its bad reputation comes from a few things, like its limited equipment, and the ban on some exercises and all outside personal trainers.
What are the cons of Planet Fitness?
The cons of Planet Fitness are limited equipment, banned exercises like deadlifts, t-rows, and the overhead press, and no personal training allowed onsite. It’s this combination that discourages more advanced fitness enthusiasts from working out at Planet Fitness.
Is Planet Fitness good for building muscle?
Planet Fitness is a good gym if you want to build muscle. Most Planet Fitness locations have smith machines, basic weightlifting equipment (i.e., pre-loaded barbells, dumbbells, adjustable benches), and resistance training machines. However, you may need to upgrade to a gym with better equipment as you max out the machines or want to take your training more seriously.
Is Planet Fitness good for losing weight?
Planet Fitness is good for losing weight and has a large selection of cardio equipment. Most Planet Fitness locations have treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, cross-trainers, and upright and recumbent bikes.