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Planet Fitness: Deal or Dud?

Posted Jan 31 2014 1:00am

Today we are going to talk about Planet Fitness and whether I think that a membership is a deal or a dud. But first, a little back story.

I signed up for a gym membership at Planet Fitness back in September and this week for the first time in months, I actually managed to show up. They say showing up is the hardest part, right? I guess they (whoever "they" are) are right.

The Planet Fitness that I joined is nowhere near my home, but it is very close and convenient to my office. My positive, overly ambitious side said that I would go there in the morning before work, or on my lunch break, or right after work. After all, it is only five minutes from my work. What could be more convenient? Then reality set in and I was always too busy, worked too late, worked through lunch, and I never managed to step a single foot inside the gym. Not to say I didn't run outside or do other things, but Planet Fitness and I just weren't making a connection.

I was intrigued by Planet Fitness because their monthly fee for a no-frills single gym membership is only $10 a month. Ten bucks a month!?! That's like Netflix cheap. If I can pay $10 a month to stream bad old bad movies, then surely a whole gym membership is worth that...except for the first four months of my membership, I just sat on it. ($40 down the drain).

But one day I decided to change all of that. I was done with not finding the time to run. I was done with cold mornings and dark evenings. I was done with the excuses and when I don't run regularly I start to go crazy. I sat at my desk this week and started crying for no apparent reason. Running is essential to my mental health. It was time to make a change.

For my first trip to Planet Fitness I decided on a run during my lunch break. I'd have thirty minutes to run a few miles on the treadmill and then the rest of my lunch hour would be driving back and forth, changing, whore shower (i.e. towel dry, perfume, deodorant) and a quick touch up on makeup and hair. I can't be the only one who does this. Right?

My first trip was a successful one. Then I went back a second time and did free weights, and then back again for another run on the treadmill and some weights. This is becoming a nice little habit. While I thoroughly enjoy the cheap membership, this place definitely has some pros and cons.

My matching outfit with the gym colors is purely coincidental!

1. The most obvious pro is that it is $10 a month. You have to sign a one year annual contract in order to get that price, but even if I had to buy my way out of the contract before the end of the year, it would still be pretty cheap. They have other plans at higher prices that include access to multiple gyms, massage chairs, and tanning, but I was mostly interested in this gym for the $10 price tag. If I was going to pay a regular gym price, I'd just go to LA Fitness.

2. They have a giant row of TVs all set to different stations that can be viewed from the cardio area. You can plug your headphones right into the treadmill and listen to any TV that you want. I always found trying to read closed captions while running was distracting, and I could never quite "tune" my radio to the correct station. I loved that I could access the audio from all of the TVs right through the treadmill.

3. It wasn't very crowded at lunch time or right at 5 o'clock. Not dead, but not packed. Perfect.

4. They are open 24 hours. Not that I plan on working out at midnight, but I like the convenience of just knowing they are always open. If you ever stood in front of LA Fitness at 5am waiting for someone to show up and unlock the doors, you know what I mean.

1. The gym is purple. It is not that I don't like purple (I do!) it is just that it is really girly. I don't mind it (I mean, who cares what color your treadmill is), but it amazes me that I regularly see men there. It just seems like such a girly gym. I guess for $10 a month, these men suck it up and put their egos aside.

2. Speaking of ego, if you are an experienced gym-goer this might not be your place. Planet Fitness prides themselves on making it a comfortable atmosphere for newbies. So if you are not a newbie, like me, and the employees ask you more than once if this is the first time you've ever joined a gym, it gets annoying. The whole place is a little dumbed down. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but while trying to be exceptionally appealing to newbies they turn off the more experienced...but I think that is kind of the point.

3. On that same note, they only have dumbbells up to 50 lbs. If you are a hard-core weight lifter, this obviously won't work for you. If you are a weakling like me, then up-to-50lbs will get me by for quite a while. The other issue is that the free weight area is very small. There are only a couple of benches and if there are even two other people in the area, it can feel crowded. This gym caters more to inexperienced people who seem to mostly rely on machines, so I can usually work around the few people hanging out in the free weight section. Free weights are a priority for me, but maybe not as much for other people who go to this gym.

4. The steam room is one of my favorite parts of a traditional gym. I see it as a mini-reward after working out. I love to finish a workout then relax for 15 minutes in the sauna. Planet Fitness does not have a steam room (or a pool in case you were wondering). They do have massage chairs and a hydro massage bed that could be used to relax, but these are only accessible with the higher membership fee ($19.99).

5. Lastly, they keep hounding me to provide them with a cancelled check, despite the fact that I signed up online and have been making automatic payments for four months. A check? What is this "check" you speak of?

In the end, I think the $10 price tag is worth putting up with some of the negatives. While I'll acknowledge that I am not their target market, I am willing to over look some things in order to take advantage of the low cost. I mean, really? Who cares what color the machines are, or who is running next to you? I'm there to get my workout done and get out. I'm not enjoying the scenery or making new friends. For me, it is a deal. For 1/3 the price of a traditional gym, I have access to treadmills 24/7 and enough free weights to get the job done. It is definitely a deal if you are not a hard-core weight lifter, you can put your ego aside, ignore the annoying marketing, and learn to love purple!

What do you think? Have you ever been to Planet Fitness? Do you think $10 a month is a good deal for a gym membership, even if you aren't their target market?

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