Friday, January 31, 2014

Planet Fitness: Deal or Dud?



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!


Things I Loved:


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.

Things I Didn't Love:


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. They have iPod docking stations built in the treadmill, but it had the old connection and no converter. My iPhone5S didn't work with it. I guess it was at least nice to have a place to keep my phone while I run.

6. 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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Keep Running,

Lea

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30 comments :

  1. I've never been but $10/month is a great deal! I used to go to the YMCA and it was more than $90/month for a membership for me and hubby. The facility was always busy during the hours I'd go so I'm glad I quit and started running outside; then we put that money into buying a treadmill for home which has been a much better investment for us.

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  2. I used to belong and I hated it. In my opinion, it is just for people that like to go and "workout" without really breaking a sweat. If you are someone that really likes to work hard and push yourself, you really stand out in this gym. To me it's worth the extra $15 I have to pay to go to LA Fitness.

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    1. This sort of comment is exactly what PF doesn't want...people judging.

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    2. But it's ok for Planet Fitness to judge? Watch their commercials. They make fun of people all the time.

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  3. $10 a month? Yes, please. I have only seen Planet Fitness on the Biggest Loser and the purple is kind of neat, I think. I never think of purple as a girly color at all. 50 pound dumbbells would do me fine too... but wondering about the small lifting area??? I would have to see it I guess. And no steam or sauna? No problem to me. I don't even use the showers when I go to the gym I use sometimes... I live so close I just go home and shower.

    I think you are onto a good thing!

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  4. I wondered if it really was $10 or not. I figured they charged by the mile on the treadmill or something! :-)

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  5. I used to be a member of a PF a few years ago. Yes the price tag is nice, but personally I find I'd rather pay more and get more. You are right, things are 'dumbed down' and just not exactly set up for more experience. Yes a gym is what you make of it- you can absolutely go in and get a great workout in. But if you want to consistently challenge yourself and motivate yourself I think paying a little more is worth it. I pay quite a bit more for a gym but that right there has a bonus... I pay more so I am less likely to go a long period of time without using said membership for fear of wasting more money. I also have an issue that PF takes out anything that can be seen as 'intimidating' (i.e. there was recently an article that several PF's removed squat racks because they were seen as intimidating to members) Since when is the whole idea of a gym to baby people and not push them out of comfort zone, isn't pushing ourselves what its all about?

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    1. Yeah I read that about the squat racks too, but my planet fitness has them.

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  6. I joined PF a few years ago at the $20 rate with the idea that my daughter would go with me. It was my first time in a gym ever and so having a workout buddy ( and someone to show me how to use the machines so I did not look like a total idiot) was comforting. She is in college now so I go alone which does not bother me. My husband joined as well but he lost all interest in working out there too. I still have the membership but can count on one hand how many times I went in the past year. My gym is very small and the equipment is old in comparison to other newer places. The universals and free weights are right there in front of the treadmills and always taken by the guys that go in groups. I's not a large area so you have to step around people to move. They do have a tiny, closest sized place with "girly weights" that only go up to 20# but this is also where the stretching mats, and exercise balls are are so it can get cramped back in that corner. I keep thinking I should cancel but at the same time I tell myself I should go back. Since I have the $20 membership, I can go with my sister to her gym if I want too (big, 2 floors, new equipment with ipod docks). I did once, it as for a virtual treadmill run for charity. This is part of the reason why I keep it - to meet up with her some time again. I prefer to be outside when the weather is nice -running or doing yoga. I wish PF did have classes. That is the one thing that would keep me going. Unfortunately, a bigger gym is not in my budget.

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  7. I definitely agree with you and prefer to be outside to workout! I also would like it if they had classes (like yoga or Pilates) - they have those "training" sessions that seem to me more like classes than training, but I haven't seen any of them in action yet.

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  8. I had a PF $10 membership for a while back in high school and I was definitely not their target audience either. I remember I was doing speed work on the treadmill one day and when I finished and I was panting and dripping. The lady walking next to me had the audacity to look over at me and ask, rather rudely, why I was 'trying to kill myself". Uh, I'm training for a race, sorry my running disturbed your walk..? I would say you hit and the pros and cons right one.

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    1. Oh my gosh! Some people! One time I was doing speed work on the streets and at the end of a sprint, I was breathing heavy and stopped to walk and this guy on the street smoking a cigarette said to me.... You have to PACE yourself girl. LOL. Um, no... I don't. It is called intervals. Thank you very much. HA!

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  9. I am so not a gym person. I just don't like them... haha. :)

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    1. I'm kinda the same way. I prefer the outdoors!

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  10. I like to workout outdoors or at home. $10 is a perfect price tag for treadmill access in the winter months. I recently joined our city's rec centers for $130/year. Worth it for a treadmill and some free weights, but not a place I will spend a lot of time in the spring/fall.

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  11. Not a bad price. We don't have one here but thanks for the information.

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  12. I joined the PF by my office 2 weeks ago. It works for me. Obviously, I won't use the gym on weekends, as it is 25 miles from my house and there isn't any other closer to me. I did do the $19.99/month as my employer allows us to expense up to $20/month for gym memberships. I agree with the free weight area being small, but I have rotator cuff issues so I stick to machines to ensure correct form. One other thing....our cardio equip isn't purple.

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    1. that is awesome your employer covers $20 a month! I wish mine did that!

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  13. I was a member for a year and it was JUST what I needed. It had plenty of working, clean machines and people actually wiped their sweat off of them religiously, great hours, and a great price. I can't seem to reply to the person above who said it was for people who didn't break a sweat, but I did NOT find that it wasn't for people who don't work out hard - it was full of all sorts of people, some hard core athletes or fitness junkies, some new, some older, etc. I paid $99 for the year on New Year's Eve just over 1 year ago and they had the same special (at least by coupon that I got in the mail) this year. So that was definitely worth it to me. I was able to get into the habit of going to a gym regularly, and get everything I needed. Now that I am more into triathlon training I did switch gyms to one with cycling classes and a pool because i was piecing all that together with different locations.

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  14. I go for the treadmill, when weather does not permit running outside.

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    1. yeah, for $10 a month, you can't beat it for unlimited treadmill access!

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  15. I've never been a member of PF, I thought about joining one once that was near my office at the time but it was always busy and didn't really have much more than cardio machines and tanning beds. And I couldn't really get over the fact that they tried to sell me a gym membership by telling me they had Free Pizza Friday for all members? Say what?

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    1. LOL! free pizza Friday! I haven't seen that one yet! so funny!

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  16. I just joined PF after being a member of a YMCA (actually 3 different YMCA's at different times) for many years. I joined for the extended hours, closer to my home/work, the price and my gym-newbie mom wanted to join. I like it so far, but I miss the classes and sauna, but PF actually has more cardio and weight machines than my last Y.

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    1. yeah, I have to investigate more - don't they have classes that they call "training" -- not like yoga (I wish they had that) but like weight training classes? Maybe I read it wrong! :)

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  17. This is great thanks for sharing.

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  18. It's not just $10 / month. There's also a $29.99 annual fee. I've been a member for a few years and like it. But now I need one closer to home and there isn't one (just close to work).

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  19. I'll be joining Planet Fitness when I move back home to Michigan around April. I am currently a YMCA member, but even with a discounted rate because of income, it's STILL more expensive than PF's $19.95 plan! We don't have a sauna or jacuzzi at this facility, and I won't use the pool because of the high octane chlorine, which is understandable, it being a public facility. The YMCA does not have massage chairs and tanning. I'm sick of all the kids screaming and running around in the locker rooms and in daycare, as well as the loud-mouthed gossips who come for morning water aerobics and swim. Further, I do not go to the gym to watch TV. I put my headphones on, crank some tunes and hop on a stationary bike for an hour prior to weight training. According to what some people are saying, I'll get the looks because I take my workouts seriously. Guess what? I do not care. Haters gonna hate! ;)

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