By Kiera Aaron
No one debates the fact that joining a gym comes with some downsides—after all, it’s a business, not a charity.
Some make canceling your membership as difficult as filing for divorce. And certain places charge their former members a fee even after they’ve given their two months notice and proof of relocation. (Yes, we’re still bitter.)
While that’s definitely annoying, the folks at Planet Fitness have a few rules that are downright are ridiculous. To us at least. In fact, some of their policies may put them in the running for The Worst Gym in America.
First, we’d like to point out that there are some perks to joining their facility. Planet Fitness doesn’t require its members to sign a contract—which is very cool. Another plus: It’s extremely cheap to join, as far as gyms go.
But here’s the first sticking point: Deadlifts aren’t allowed. Which is interesting, because when we recently asked the top Men’s Health experts what they considered to be the most effective exercise, the results were unanimous. Across the board, these world-class fitness coaches answered: “The deadlift.”
What’s more, Planet Fitness doesn’t allow you do any exercise that might result in grunting (squats, anyone?) or any other loud noise, such as plates banging on the floor.
It’s all part of a their Judgement Free Zone (“No Judgment” is written on every machine), which they define as a way for members to “relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms.” Now we’re all for making gyms more inviting to folks who are intimidated because they are new to exercise, overweight, or just plain out of shape. But Planet Fitness may be taking this a bit too far. Case in point: Making a sound of exertion can set off the Lunk Alarm—a siren that flashes and blares when someone drops a weight, grunts, or “judges.” As if that’s not enough, challenging the Lunk Alarm could result in your immediate expulsion from the gym.
Our question: How can you really know when a person is “judging” someone anyway? (We do it behind people’s backs all the time!)
And consider this: Planet Fitness puts up its “No Judgment” signs in an effort to create a welcoming environment—but then sounds an alarm meant to publicly humiliate people who are actually exerting themselves. So in forbidding what they deem “muscle-head behavior,” aren’t they, in fact, judging?
It’s their gym and their rules, though. So if you go to Planet Fitness, just make sure you don’t do the most beneficial exercise known to man. They might kick you out.