How do you feel about Planet’s Fitness’ “safe environment” policies? Apparently, you’re encouraged to ring a bell or something if someone grunts too loudly to publicly shame them, and certain kinds of lifts are prohibited entirely, like the deadlift.
Hey, they know their market. Planet Fitness’ policies have ensured that they appeal to a wide consumer base that is willing to pay upfront, will visit the gym less than regularly, use equipment lightly (making it less likely that equipment will be broken or need to be replaced often), and will primarily focus on exercises that don’t require significant education and experience on the part of their personal trainers. Planet Fitness knows exactly what it’s doing.
I’d be completely cool with this if their policies simply discouraged serious lifters from signing up. Catering to a more casual clientele is fine: Some people do just want accessible cardio equipment and a low monthly rate without dealing with more serious patrons, and those people deserve to have a gym too. The problem comes when Planet Fitness moved away from “We’re not really a lifting gym” to “No lunks allowed.”
See, Planet Fitness doesn’t need any of their “lunk” propaganda in order to discourage lifters from joining. People who are into heavy weights already know that they need to look into other gyms. One tour around the facility is enough to show that loud and clear. Planet Fitness simply doesn’t have extensive lifting resources, therefore lifters will go elsewhere. If it stopped there, no one would get hurt and we wouldn’t have a problem. But that wasn’t good enough for Planet Fitness – They needed to demonize and insult lifters (specifically, women lifters) in order to seem more appealing to the people they wanted to sell to.
Their commercials and in-gym advertisements frequently paint weight lifters as dumb, egotistical, obnoxious and barbaric. This plays into the stereotype that all lifters are Bros and not like the “normal people” that go to Planet Fitness. It’s a completely unnecessary attack. Not only is it body shaming and offensive to people who value certain body types, but it’s hypocritical when placed next to this concept of a Judgment-Free Zone. It enforces this idea that a person’s worth, personality, values and ability to respect other patrons can be judged solely on appearance. It’s pretty ridiculous.
But again: This may be a problem, but it wouldn’t be such a huge issue if Planet Fitness just stopped there. But they kept going and just had to hurt more people: They’ve aired multiple transphobic commercials that mock and body-shame female bodybuilders. Their commercials accuse female lifters of being too masculine to actually be women, while women cardio-buffs are apparently air headed and arrogant super models. This is misogyny and transmisogyny at its finest: Women literally can’t win. No matter what their goal is at the gym, they’re going to be condemned for it and painted as an Other. And it’s transwomen who end up being hurt the most.
I honestly don’t care if Planet Fitness caters to serious lifters – On average, there are enough other gyms out there to keep “lunks” engaged and active. Lunks are going to be just fine. But Planet Fitness does not have the right to demean or devalue people based on their bodies. If all members have to adhere to a strict gender binary in order to feel comfortable in their facilities? If I’m going to routinely see certain body shapes insulted and shamed on their premises? Screw it, Planet Fitness isn’t getting any of my money.
There was always something that rubbed me the wrong way about that place. What a great breakdown.