Gymtimidation is slang for being intimidated to go to the gym. Planet Fitness has exploited this common insecurity to great success. Here is an example of one of their commercials:
Their strategy depicting fit women as stupid, shallow and mean is clearly working. Planet Fitness recently grew to 5 million members. According to their CEO, they cater to the 85% of the population who is new to the gym and considers exercise a chore. They have a “Judgement Free Zone” where they serve pizza and bagels; they do not allow certain exercises like deadlifts; and if someone lifts weights and grunts staff members can pull a “Lunk Alarm.” (Source: Bloomberg TV: Planet Fitness)
I’m all about being inclusive, but seriously WTF? Pizza at the gym? Why not serve beer too, right? If you truly want your clients to get healthy, why would you actively sabotage their efforts?
And then there’s the irony of saying you have rules against “judging” people yet have created an ALARM to shame fit people. That’s bringing player hating to an all new level. “We don’t want people who EXERCISE at our “gym!”
Hey, I know! Let’s make schools have “Learning Free Zones” or “Ima Skip SkooL Kewl Zonez” and then give kids a trophy just for showing up! “Little Jimmy, are you a straight A student? Get out of here! We don’t want any NERDS WHO STUDY in this school!”
Gyms can be intimidating, especially when you’re new, but it was everyone’s first day at the gym once. Most people who workout are listening to their iPod and focusing on their own exercises, not other people.
“Judging” goes both ways. I like the gym where I work out (24 Hour Fitness) because there is a mix of all levels there. I started out there overweight, hanging with the newbies on the elliptical machines, and slowly worked my way up into strength training and maintaining a healthy weight. The environment made me feel comfortable when I was just beginning, but gave me room to grow in my fitness journey.
At 24 Hour Fitness, clients who get in shape have their success stories posted on the wall. A “success story” who works out at Planet Fitness is now living in fear that someone who shows up once a month on Pizza Day to walk on the treadmill in jeans and flip flops will have the power to push a stupid Lunk Alarm to publicly shame her…for working out…at a gym…
That said, now I kind of want to go to their gym just to see if I could set off their Lunk Alarm. How fun would that be!?!
What are your thoughts about Planet Fitness?
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