What is Planet Fitness’s ‘lunk alarm’?
Planet Fitness is an American franchisor and operator of fitness centers based in Hampton, New Hampshire. The company reports that it has 2,039 clubs, making it one of the largest fitness club franchises by number of members and locations.
There are locations across the United States as well as in other countries such as Canada, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Mexico. In 2019 the franchise expanded to Australia. It markets itself as a “Judgment Free Zone” that caters to novice and casual gym users and is reported to be the nation’s fastest growing fitness center franchise.
What is Planet Fitness’s ‘lunk alarm’?
It’s an alarm the staff will pull that alerts the entire gym that someone is acting like a ‘lunk’ (see pic above for details).
Although a real alarm, it’s mostly just a gimmick they have to solidify their stance on not letting anyone get intimidated by some guy (yes, this is clearly directed at men only) “slamming his weights” or god forbid drinking water out of a gallon jug.
Honestly, I find it to be stupid, and quite ironic to boot. What I mean by the latter point is that Planet Fitness is casting judgement on a guy wearing a tank top drinking water out of a gallon jug – yet designating their weight room as a ‘no judgement zone’…how does that make sense? If you pick and choose who is going to be kicked out, that’s almost literally the definition of judgement.
What’s so bad about Planet Fitness?
Planet Fitness is a brilliant business but in my opinion, it sucks for anyone who is serious about lifting.
Everyone wants to be fit but most people don’t have the discipline. Of course, most people like to think that they do. How many people do you know have bought a gym membership, went a few times, got lazy and then stopped going? Eventually, these people come to terms with the fact that they’re just wasting money so they cancel their membership.
But Planet Fitness is different. Planet Fitness is cheap. Planet Fitness is so cheap that people can’t even be bothered to cancel. So month after month, they just keep paying Planet Fitness for nothing.
The cheap membership isn’t just good for retention, it’s good for signing up new members. People who were scared off by high membership costs could suddenly afford to join a gum. But if Planet Fitness is signing up members left and right, how can they service so many people? As mentioned earlier, most of the members barely even show up.
But if you happen to be a serious lifter, you’re not welcome there. Serious lifters are a real problem to their business model because these people actually go to the gym regularly and put a lot of wear and tear on the equipment. In other words, serious lifters cost them money. On top of that, they intimidate their target market.
So here’s the deal… if you go to Planet Fitness and things have been going well then stick with it. But if one day you set off the lunk alarm, take that as a sign of your progress because Planet Fitness considers your training to be too serious.
What are the pros and cons of Planet Fitness?
Several years ago, I swore I wouldn’t ever join a gym like Planet Fitness. I made this declaration because I read some stories about people being asked to change clothes based on the dress code. Naively, I just assumed that this was a simply a gym that catered to the older crowd and available equipment at the gym would reflect that.
I included that preface for some background and to set the stage for this answer, as I’ve now been a Planet Fitness black card member for over a year and absolutely love it! But of course, there are still some negatives. It’s just that the negatives don’t outweigh the positives. So let’s start with the pros:
- Cost: It’s just a little over $20 for a monthly black card membership which gives you access to your home gym and every other Planet Fitness. So for someone who travels a lot such as myself, this is a big benefit. Other gyms aren’t going to be anywhere near as cheap.
- Cleanliness: I have never been to a facility that wasn’t very clean.
- Equipment: I’ve yet to go for a workout and been unable to find the equipment that I need. They have all of the traditional equipment and more than one of each.
- Crowd: You’ll have an extremely diverse crowd. There are the traditional stereotypical gym-goers, but also people of every age-group, level of experience, and fitness levels.
- Hours: It’s open 24/7!
Of course there are some cons. Here are the things that tend to bug me the most (but still don’t think it’s that bad):
- Busy: Because of how inexpensive it is to join, the gym can be rather busy. Most of the time it’s just confined to the cardio equipment, but there are times when other equipment becomes rather crowded.
- Inexperienced people: Nothing against people who really don’t know what their doing…it’s actually a great thing that they want to become healthier! But it can be rather irritating when someone is using a piece of equipment that you want to use and they clearly have no clue how to use it.
- Casual atmosphere: At times, it can be a little TOO casual. It sucks when people are sitting on equipment, socializing, taking selfies, talking on the phone, etc. But because it’s a “judgement free zone”, you really can’t say anything to them.
- Cardio, cardio, and more cardio: By far, the gym space is taken up by huge amounts of treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, stair climbers, etc. They could drop the number of cardio machines by even a 1/3 and create enough space for additional free weights. But there are a lot of people who join the gym just for the cardio equipment, so I do understand.
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I do really enjoy Planet Fitness and definitely feel the positives outweigh the negatives. I love the convenience (there’s one less than 2 miles from my home) and the inviting atmosphere. But as with any other gym, is it for everyone? Definitely not! The good news is that you can get a free trial and check it out for yourself and they won’t be breathing down your neck about membership plans!
If you drop weights they sound the alarm. It is prohibited. In meat head gyms there is a lot of dropping weights, grunting, yelling and over all dickery going on. This can be intimidating to some people and will down right run off members. Planet Fitness is much calmer, lots of cardio equipment and machines (in most locations).
It took some getting used for me because I began training and kept training for years in gyms geared towards competitive bodybuilding, power lifting and Olympic lifting. After a long break my husband convinced me to get back in the gym and Planet Fitness is a closer drive.
The culture is different because a lot of the members are clueless as to how to train or like me, they are trying to get back into and stay in shape. I used to try and help them out but not anymore unless they ask. And I try not to watch some of the exercises they are doing.
Competition is not the goal now – just want to stay in shape. I can work out at my own pace. No matter how awesome you are or think you are, noone in Planet Fitness is going to know. Funny when a kid parks next to me and sees me hitting 45s and 50s for dumbbell bench presses – multiple reps.
Inevitably they grab the 50s off the rack and get buried. I am 63 and 115 pounds. Dang good for my old ass but a crack up when I see a trainwreck in the making. They get embarrassed – a granny shouldn’t be able to lift more than a young guy. But as I said I have learned not to give advice.
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