Monday, February 09, 2009

Planet Fitness

The reviews of Planet Fitness go from the scathingly negative to the mildly positive. The most acerbic crowd is made of members who came via World Gym acquisition. The bottom line is that Planet Fitness is an expanding fitness franchise catering to the soft core crowd who would like to get an indoor cardio workout, maybe some light strength training and dispense with all of the high end amenities of a full service gym. The real gem is $10/month and most people would forgo a latte/week to have access to a gym. Fewer people are willing to pony up $30-$60/month for a full service gym. However at the extreme end some people consider $250/month for access and personal training very standard.

It all depends on what you are looking for. Planet fitness does not offer aerobics classes, the free weights section can easily be overlooked, and even the stretching area is tucked in the corner. On the other hand there are easily 60 pieces of cardio equipment including treadmills, recumbent bikes, Stair Masters and elliptical trainers. There is a large variety of resistance training machines, 3 smith machines and several flat benches and incline benches with dumbbells going up to 80 lbs.

It has been a while since I have thrown around the 100 lb dumbbells which are standard in most gyms. I do appreciate barbells and squat racks but have learned to make due as these are slowly fading away. Further, I have come to appreciate flexibility in my routine and have found it difficult to join group runs, rides or fitness classes. As I have access to a corporate gym, my big motivator was a place to exercise on weekend mornings.

From an environment note, the eye candy is certainly subpar for a gym. As a family man, I am comfortable without the distraction. I am happy to have access to a clean, if purple, facility with ample locker room space and a stone’s throw distance from the house. The best negative critique was a rant proclaiming that the color scheme made one feel that they were thrust up Barney’s colon.

The real key for me was not having a long term contract. My monthly bills already include a mortgage, utilities, water, Tivo, and Comcast with broadband. The last thing I want is another $XX leaving my bank account on a monthly basis. If I am not taking advantage of it, I can cancel and be out the $29 start up fee which is the cost of a fast casual dinner nowadays.

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