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Elizabeth Quinn

Planet Fitness Commercial Strikes a Nerve with Some

By January 15, 2011

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Planet Fitness is making it clear they are not aiming to be everything to everyone. Their commercials play up the "muscle head" stereotype, and imply that the grunting, muscle-bound demographic isn't wanted in a Planet Fitness club.

It's an effective marketing technique that gets a laugh with the, "I lift things up, and put them down"  spot, but some people are getting a bit riled up and even calling Planet Fitness "hostile."  One news story tells of a man getting kicked out of a Planet Fitness for grunting while weight lifting. Apparently, grunting is  banned under their  "Lunk Alarm" policy that also prohibits dropping weights, among other things.

I checked out their web site and sure enough, the Lunk™ Alarm and no grunting zones do exist. Right below their Mission Statement that says,  "We at Planet Fitness are here to provide a unique environment in which anyone - and we mean anyone - can be comfortable. A diverse, Judgement Free Zone® where a lasting, active lifestyle can be built."   (Well, apparently that means anyone who doesn't grunt when they work out)

I've never been to a Planet Fitness, so I can't say what sort of an atmosphere they create  for members, and if they are inclusive or 'hostile.'  I just know that they are getting a lot of attention these days for a truly innovative ad campaign.

What do you think about Planet Fitness?   Share your comments below.

January 16, 2011 at 12:10 am
(1) Laurie Scherer says:

The body builders and power lifters are angry because they feel discriminated there. The demographic that PF caters to, general fitness females 45-65 like me, feel discriminated at other National chains that tend to cater to body builders, power lifters, hard bodies and the pretty people. So what’s the big deal? A gym that’s geared more toward first time gym users where I’m not intimidated? What’s wrong with that? Just because they are brazen enough to throw IT in the face of them for a change as part of their ad/marketing? There’s people that feel discriminated against at PF because of their religious belief because they wear their muslim head dress which is also not allowed….so dont join. Let me enjoy my work out in peace without being judged or felt uncomfortable. Enough of the political correct crap for this group or that. If you don’t like it change the channel. :)

January 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm
(2) Frank says:

Body builders and power lifters are “angry” because they are being stereotyped by Planet Fitness.

It’s a gym management’s responsibility to make all members feel comfortable. My gym is privately owned by a former competitive bodybuilder.

We have members who are fat, skinny, young, old, an amputee, and everyone is courteous and friendly (or even indifferent) to everyone else. The owner would bounce a disruptive member as soon as look at them.

We have guys who powerlift and, bodybuild; we have overweight women casually peddling the stationary bikes watching the action (and grunting) on the floor. And they are still members. So you can only be intimidated if you let yourself be. Poor excuse to defend stereotyping.

How funny would it be if a Gold’s Gym ad shows a 98 lb twink or very overweight woman out the back door, stating it is the stretching room, pointing to a Planet Fitness across the parking lot?

Maybe Gold’s Gyms should respond in kind, saying “Hey you’re fat/skinny and we don’t want your kind”. Let’s see who gets upset over that.

For a “judgment-free zone” PF is making an awful lot of judments.

January 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm
(3) James says:

They say they do not judge but is that not what they are doing? What if I opened a bar and would not people to drink? I walked in a location to see what they are about and they had an attitude right away. Why? I just competed in my first show after 4 years of training from 245 lbs and 40″ waist. I workout in a gym that people helped me, guided me and guess what… They didn’t judge me. Have I dropped weights because I worked to exhaustion. Have I grunted? yes and I didn’t get thrown out. PF is a fad and judging from the complaints, they will fade as most others have. They do not allow dumbells over 90 lbs. This is like having half a gym. They say this is to keep the “types” out. The real reason.. the increased cost in insurance. If you are one of the people who like to pay a membership and only go 25 days a year, this is the gym for you. Do your research, cheaper is not always better. Remember the Yugo?

January 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm
(4) Edwin says:

I think the thing that riles me up is the hypocrisy of this “judgement free zone” while having stuff like the Lunk Alarm. Evidently it is judgement free for anyone but people who are serious about lifting or bodybuilding. I have never seen any other gym that has such an exclusionary policy and yet tries to play it as being inclusive.

January 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm
(5) Heather says:

I used to belong to Planet Fitness, and I never found it to be an intimidating or hostile environment. Never saw anyone get kicked out or reprimanded. Then again, I’m not someone who grunts while lifting or drops weights — so I guess I’m the kind of person who would feel comfortable there.

Honestly, I think all the uproar over this is a little extreme. Are people getting angry at Curves for catering to women? If this isn’t the environment that you want to work out in, then don’t join.

February 19, 2011 at 8:28 am
(6) Patricia McCarty says:

Re: “I pick things…” Hilarious? NOT! Annoying? ABSOLUTELY!
Stupid? YES, YES, YES! An insult to anyone’s intelligence? YES!
Would I join PF? Because of this commercial? NO WAY!

February 24, 2011 at 11:22 am
(7) Bill English says:



March 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm
(8) Isaac says:

I’m wearing a small Ski-Hat as a Skull Cap because I’m an observant Jew. I don’t need to leave my religion and respect for God at the door when I enter the planet fitness.

All I do is cardio for 30 to 60 minutes on a treadmill or eliptical. No wieght lifting, no grunding, no nothing that would bother anyone at all.

Today, (March 22, 2011) I was told that I’m not allowed to wear my knitted hat but I can wear a baseball cap instead. What is the point here? Is there any logical explanation…? Hell no….

I dislike baseball hats on my hat, plus they make me even more sweat. I’m a balding man and I sweat a lot. To me the ski-hat is the most comfortable hat when working out, it keeps my hat dry.

Anyway I cancelled my membership as soon as I was told to take my hat off…

Jews and Muslims (men and women) wear head coverings not to “intimidate” others or not out of fashion. They honestly believe this is what we need to do to show respect for God.

Also muslim women cover all their curves not only heads. And they don’t intimidate or bother me at all. But these women also are not allowed to work out at planet fitness. Instead, they allow women and men who show-off their body, who don’t care about modesty at all. To be honest as a practicing and proud Jew I would prefer to work out in an environment where people cover their body instead of showing-off their body. I don’t want to see woman’s boobs or ass when I work out. That simple!!!

They allow those women who has no moral-modest values, wearing tights, leaving their shoulders to half of their boobs naked…. A normal healthy man would be distract by these women. I believe I’m right on this. Same thing for the other genders as well. Women will get distracted by men who are not dressing up modestly…

As a healthy man, I find women that show-off their body intimidating and disturbing…!!! If you need a dress code, you need to put MODESTY as the base for both genders…

April 8, 2011 at 7:58 am
(9) ExPFMember says:

How would you feel if a gym like LA Fitness had a commercial that said fat people aren’t wanted at this gym?

May 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm
(10) jj says:

I have been discriminated there, when I was looking for personal fitness job. They discriminated because of my long hair and facial hair. Of course they didn’t come right out and say it, but kept giving me the run around,saying they wanted someone with 9 years experience! Ha ha! What a bunch of b.s!

September 23, 2011 at 6:45 am
(11) Jackie says:

I detest the Planet Fitness commercials and can’t believe that they actually pay someone to come up with these ads. Do they think that we, the viewers, need to see some grown man make bunny ears, or someone make his chest move as he is screaming boom!!!!! Really. I change the channel when I catch it in enough time. To think that a company actually paid someone money to make these commercials for them is enough to tell me to find another gym.

November 18, 2011 at 7:48 am
(12) shan says:

I just joined a few weeks ago. Personally, I love it. But I can completely understand how this would upset people. Also, I listen to my radio through headphones (loud enough that I can’t hear anything else). Every time the “lunk alarm” goes off, it scares the crap out of me and I think there’s some kind o emergency.

January 14, 2012 at 3:24 am
(13) Paul says:

I find these commercials offensive. To imply that you are a judgement free facility, but to openly discriminate against athletes is ridiculous. Body builders and the like are extremely dedicated hard working people. I have respect for their acomplishments and so should others.

I often see the “soccer mom” demographic defending these policies. Get something straight, mediocrity isn’t defendable. If you are obese, fat or just mildly overweight you need to accept that as the truth. If you are intimidated by healthier bodies, use it as motivation. Stop complaining and making excuses for your failures to take care of your body.

That being said, I’m a member. I’m considered morbidly obese, and am certainly not “bulked out”. I don’t make excuses for my condition, I accept it and work towards improvement. Stop clinging to pathetic excuses. Also, try having a conversation with some of those folks sometime, you might find them to be friendly, knowledgeable and helpful people. I know I usually do.

January 31, 2012 at 8:41 am
(14) Tom says:

Judgement free zone? Sounds way too liberal for me. Grunting is part of serious weight lifting. I guess they want to cater to the the limp wristed girly men that perspire and not sweat when they work out. The commercial is funny, though.

February 1, 2012 at 12:43 am
(15) dan says:

I am a white bald headed senior citizen that rolls up a bandana to make a sweat band so as not to drip perspiration all over the equipment. I was told I can not wear that because it is gangster related. Yet there are black women wearing bandanas as due rags and wool stocking caps and mexicans wearing hoodies . But the fat white guy can’t wear his sweat band. Mind you the rules clearly state ” NO Head Gear except baseball caps” What’s up with the double standard?

April 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm
(16) david schlossman says:

As a doctor and owner of a one on one personal training gym, I was very upset to see Planet Fitness throwing a stereo type of the very people who gave othres the knowledge and enabled gym owner to become gym owners to begin with. First I blame the bodybuilders who appeared in the commercials to begin with. They are not very intelligent people and not because they work out. There mere fact that I am writing this though shows Planet Fitness got what they wanted. Attention.

July 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm
(17) flip spiceland says:

I never thought muscle heads would get so sensitive about being made fun of. Underneath all of that bulk you’re a bunch of friggin crybabies. Wah wah. There are plenty of gyms for “real” weight lifters guys, get over yourselves.

August 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm
(18) BabyBillie says:

The commercial really is annoying and its very hypocritical that they can show a bodybuilder to the door and call themselves a judgement free zone. Seriously, If you are overweight and out of shape and feel insecure, that’s a personal problem. Because someone is in shape or muscular, they shoudln’t feel bad for making you feel insecure. That’s what you are in a gym for.

October 31, 2012 at 9:36 am
(19) fit says:

Hey flip, it’s probably because they just aren’t used to being made fun of, I’m sure you are used to it and have toughened up on the inside where “muscle heads” are tough on the outside. Loser

November 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm
(20) Law says:

Its sad when people are judged for bettering themselves. You can’t be judgement free and then pass judgments on others its pure stupidity. The gym I go to doesn’t judge regardless of race, religion, size or fitness level. What happens when people become physically fit that weren’t when they began? will they be banned after being loyal customers for years? These people who say go somewhere else and stop crying enjoy your overpacked gyms. You people are obviously poor uneducated morons that can’t afford a real gym.

January 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm
(21) PF Member says:

I belive if you want to grunt or drop weights than go to a gym that allows it its that EASY .Or is it i think those who are upset at PF Are not mad at PF rules but indeed are upset that GYMS that allow such behavor are not as affordable. if you want to yell and drop thing than pay for it the only WEIGHT i want to drop is my own at thats way i chose PF

March 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm
(22) Bobby C says:

What I find most interesting about this is that PF is pretty much admitting they want their clients to be unsuccessful. and they are banking on them making no progress in their physical fitness. If it’s a “beginners” place, shouldn’t the beginners eventually advance out of that stage?

No, because they won’t even let them do beginner exercises. Lifting weights is not advanced, lifting heavy weights is. But from what I understand PF does not allow their clients to actually perform any effective exercises. They are banking on their clients eating tootsie rolls and wasting time on worthless exercise that will never help them reach fitness, while at the same time mocking people who actually want to accomplish something.

I came across this because I am looking into joining a place. I am not a meathead, but I do want to perform traditional proven weight lifting exercises, as a Beginner. PF doesn’t seem interested in helping beginners, only false-starters. If you want to start as a beginner, you need a place that will let you start with low weights and proper form doing real exercise. I think I might feel less “judged” at a more “hard core” gym, and I doubt serious bodybuilders really “judge” anyone for being new or out of shape. Maybe they don’t want to watch people use bad form or perform ridiculous movements.

March 19, 2013 at 7:26 am
(23) John says:

I saw this commercial the other night and I was completely appauled at the extreme stereotype thrown at bodybuilders and people in general with over all better physiques than “the average Joe / Jane”. They say they do not judge but is this not exactly what theyare doing? Makes me sick to my stomach. If a person slightly grunts because they have serious weight on the bar and are exhauling hard to get the weight up, what is the issue? Also don’t confuse dropping the weights with placing weights on the floor. A heavy weight WILL make noise when it hits the floor. its a gym, not a church. “Lunk alarm?” What the **** is that?? Are you kidding me? I have been gyms for 20 plus years now and I have never been so insulted in my life. A gym is supposed to accomadate everyone from beginers to amature lifters to recreational gym rats to middle aged people who want to be healthy and to elderly people who want to pass time. I have never once had an issue with a 250 plus lbs bodybuilder and matter of fact they are the nicest guys around if you actually sit and talk to them unlike the poor stereotype Planet Fitness layed on them. They take their workouts seriously as that is their JOB just like its your job to go to the office. That is their office. Do not be JEALOUS of people who can lift heavy weights and in general look better than you by exploiting them to this stereotype that you have. Planet Fitness makes me sick.

August 6, 2013 at 10:32 am
(24) Tanya says:

Because of the low cost, PF invites people from ALL walks of life, even those who have no respect for other people. I was a member there unitl last month when I just let my contract run out. One day when I was circuit training, a woman walks in and starts working out in the middle of the circuit–something that is not allowed and it clearly posted in the circuit training area. I would not have minded so much except she was taking time doing multiple sets on the machines I was set to use as they were next in my circuit. I politely reminded her that there is no jumping in on circuit training. She replied that she makes her own rules and she does three sets–even though there are no multiple sets and that is also clearly stated on the sign. I reported her and was told that if they receive another complaint they will talk to her. Guess my complaint was not enough. Another complaint is that they have single coverage–that is putting their employees at risk. How can PF permit this, especially in an all night facility in the city of Worcester?

August 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm
(25) Jeremy says:

I find the whole franchise incredibly offensive. I believe their entire business plan is to guarantee NO ONE gets in shape. The whole “as long as you try” attitude mixed with their “carbo loading” is a way to ensure everyone feels like their accomplishing something without actually doing it. It’s seriously pathetic.
And all those “that’s why i don’t like gyms” lines are the worst part. I have been going to gyms for over 20yrs though every shape from shredded and fit to fast and embarrassed to a wear a tank top… And have never ever witnessed/experienced anything like that, ever. That doesn’t happen!
The saddest part is they play on the irrational fears and completely false Stereotypes some people have about fitness, the same people who have never been to a gym and experienced how friendly and helpfully those “beautiful ” people are.

February 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm
(26) lefjalkfje says:

I love to lift weights but I never grunt or drop them. The meat heads who do this are just trying to get attention. I’m glad there’s finally a chain that’s willing to stand up to them.

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