2006 C1D31: Field Guide To Planet Fitness

When I signed up at my super-cheapies gym last month, I really didn’t pay much attention to the other inhabitants of Planet Fitness. When I am gym shopping, I care primarily about:

1) Price
2) Equipment condition and quantity
3) Distance from home or office
4) Price

Things like the availability of a smoothie bar, personal trainers, and the clientele are really tertiary concerns. (Secondary concerns are working showers, restrooms, and lockers.)

When it comes to my primary criteria for gym bliss, Planet Fitness gets thumbs up all around, but I have to admit that the client base is very different from the Dr. Phillips Gold’s Gym I used to frequent.

The most noticeable difference is that there are absolutely NO hardcore bodybuilder types at PF, male or female. Ridiculous as it may seem, I’m probably in the top five among female members in terms of visible musculature and lean body mass, and I am by no means She-Hulk at the moment.

The other major difference is the lack of spandex-clad cardio class bunnies. PF doesn’t offer group classes of any kind, so the herds of skinny cardio class junkies you normally see at gym franchises simply aren’t present. This leaves just the cardio bunnies who are content to stick with treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals ad infinitum. At any given time, there are only 2-3 of these in the gym, even during weekday evening peak hours.

As for the rest of the females…there are usually one or two like me who hit both the cardio deck and the weight area and look like they have some clue as to what they are doing with both diet and exercise. The non-bunny remainder (a good 90% of the females in the gym) are overweight to obese and seem to have no set plan. They putz around on the recumbent bikes or elliptical machines or tag along behind a red-shirted trainer for their free resistance training session. Their ages range from teens to late 50s, but what they all have in common is that none of them are getting any results, and no one at the gym seems to be interested in helping them without their hands stuck out for some hefty fees. 😐

The men are divided up into the following ratios: 10% experienced lifters who clearly aren’t watching their diets and therefore sport big bellies and little muscle definition, 5% lean but not bulky cardio/weights types who do watch their nutrition, 35% high school jocks who never touch the cardio deck or squat rack (can we say chicken legs?), 10% skinny little guys who aren’t following any program, and 40% overweight and obese men who mostly sit at the Nautilus machines and do a few desultory reps or walk on the treadmills.

I wonder how many of the “no visible results” members would turn things around if they had an opportunity to attend a class on proper nutrition and exercise?

3/10 Report
(*Diet and workout details omitted by agreement with trainer)

Meals – On plan
Water – 16 cups
Supplements – On plan

Regular (Non-Plan) Daily Supplements – multivitamin with iron, calcium 600 + D

30 days down, 54 more to go!

Weights – Rest; Cardio – Elliptical – Done

The Awful Truth:
1. Nothing!

Brownie Points:
1. Got to bed on time. It was a minor miracle.
2. Went grocery shopping and bought a ton of produce.

Short-term Goals:
1. Work on paper doll sketches.
2. Set up archived version of The Training Journal forum at PDB from Hershey Girl’s backup.
3. Upgrade WordPress to 2.0.
4. Transplant two tomato vines and plant Swiss Chard.
5. Finish taxes.

7 thoughts on “2006 C1D31: Field Guide To Planet Fitness

  1. Maggie wrote:
    “… 35% high school jocks who never touch the cardio deck or squat rack (can we say chicken legs?) …”

    Ah, yes. The guys who only work on the muscles they can see from the front.

    Maggie wrote:
    “I wonder how many of the ‘no visible results’ members would turn things around if they had an opportunity to attend a class on proper nutrition and exercise?”

    Sadly, probably just a few of them. Read this from Lou Schuler, former fitness editor of Men’s Health: http://www.louschuler.com/archives/obesity/index.html#a001073

  2. Okay, Maggie, please don’t take this the wrong way, but a few of your most recent posts have really offended me.
    First of all, I truly believe that–whether obese or a super-expert like you–anyone actually working out, actually trying (even if they’re just “putzing” and aren’t completely perfect when it comes to diet and exercise) should be praised for attempting to be healthy. Most people don’t have the dedication you do, and quite honestly, I’m not sure that they’re just “lazy;” you choose your priorities in life, and I think you should let others do the same without criticizing them so very harshly. I’m not saying that health shouldn’t be a priority in everyone’s life, but I don’t think that working out an hour or more a day as you do is necessary for the average person who just wants a healthy heart and longer life. It is also okay for most people to indulge in sweets and treats sometimes. You never know the stories of “obese” people; some have serious issues to overcome. It doesn’t mean that they’re not as strong as you are, or that they’re “lazy.” Rather, it means that they are different.
    And quite frankly, if they’re at a gym, where they’re probably really conscious of their slovely and unprofessional appearance and workout techniques, I give them a ton of credit.

    Also, your previous post on junior high/high school kids was also a bit surprising for me. I go to an all-girls’ high school, and I can’t tell you how many girls suffer from eating disorders. Some not even anorexia or bulemia, but more grey-area EDs…obsession with food, obsession with exercise, extreme restriction, etc. Almost every girl would answer that she needs to “lose some weight,” though many of the girls at my school are stick-thin. I think sports and exercise have reached new heights thanks to media coverage of health issues, and I see many of my friends attempting to eat more healhfully. You mention that you saw girls walking around with lots of flab. Well, the teenage years are formative years. Girls need some fat on their bodies while they are developing; not everyone can–or needs to, even for health reasons–have a perfectly flat stomach. Obesity is a different issue, but I get the impression that in your eyes those who don’t have the same level of determination and success as you are somehow lesser…and I disagree. I just think that there are thousands of different circumstances explaining why people are the way they are, and it’s inappropriate to make blanket statements without knowing them.

    I hope THIS comment doesn’t come across as harsh. I really do admire you (though I am NOWHERE NEAR your league in terms of fitness and I can’t understand how you can be so perfect nutritionally!), and I would hate for you to take this as an attack. I was just pretty offended by this post and the one about teenagers and their levels of fitness today, and I had to say something.

  3. Rob–Great article. I especially like the quote, “Books, diet plans, and Stairmasters don’t make people lose weight. People make people lose weight.” Thanks for sharing!

    Hannah–I think you might have taken this post the wrong way. Hardbodies or not, I *do* respect everyone at my gym for putting in the effort to be there at all. In that they are already doing better than the majority of the people in this country. I hope I didn’t imply that the men and women at my gym were weak or lazy just because they don’t operate in single-minded robo-gym rat mode. I freely admit to being more than a little OCD and realize that it’s a combination of personality type, comfortable socio-economic status, life stage (single, no kids), etc. that allow me to devote as much time as I do to eating well and working out. 😆

    What I was actually trying (and have apparently failed) to convey is my frustration with the lack of knowledge about the basics of healthy nutrition and exercise in our supposedly advanced technological society. It seems that we can find out anything we want to know about how to fix a leaky sink or resolve a computer driver compatibility issue online, but when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy body, people are either too confused by all the conflicting information they’ve heard over the years (a friend of mine calls this “analysis paralysis”) or just default to the cardio + second-hand, media-filtered tenets of the fad diet of the moment formula.

    I feel that someone–our government, our schools, our family doctors, our gyms (who are happy to take our money every month but usually fail to provide any further guidance without a high fee)–is letting all of us down by not giving us the specific knowledge we need in order to live healthy lives and stave off all the negative medical, social, and emotional consequences of being overweight.

    As cheesy as it may sound, I’d really like to see Bill Phillips’s dream of a Great American Transformation come true, not because I see those who are not physically fit as “lesser” as you put it, but because once a person HAS discovered just how simple it is to lose weight and how wonderful it feels to KNOW their body can perform anything they ask of it with ease and efficiency, they can’t help but want everyone else to become enlightened, too.

  4. Hello! I havent dropped by for a while – but it seems you are going GREAT – will stop by again soon! xxx :cyclops:

  5. Hannah … a well-reasoned post. You mentioned the following:

    “Some not even anorexia or bulemia, but more grey-area EDs…obsession with food, obsession with exercise, extreme restriction, etc.”

    Just some points of clarification:

    • There isn’t much that’s grey about EDs, much the way there is no “grey-area cancer.” People are struggling with the disease or they aren’t.
    • One of the common misperceptions about EDs — bulimia, in particular — is that vomiting is the only way to purge. There are probably as many over-exercisers as there are those who vomit.
    • Extreme caloric restriction IS anorexia.
    • There is another diagnosis that isn’t mentioned much when EDs are discussed, called Eating Disordered, Not Otherwise Specified. People who struggle with EDNOS exhibit behaviors associated with both anorexia and bulimia. What makes the disease so difficult to recognize is that people are usually at a healthy weight (but that’s true of those who struggle with anorexia and bulimia, too).

  6. Just one more clarification … this time on my words. I said, “Extreme caloric restriction IS anorexia.” I meant to say it “is sympomatic of anorexia.” In other words, caloric restriction, in and of itself, is not the same as having the illness. The behavior, however, is an indicator to look for the emotional component associated with eating disorders.

  7. Rob- by “grey-area” EDs I meant those that aren’t the two most commonly known ones: anorexia and bulemia. This is what is medically termed EDNOS, as you pointed out. I didn’t mean “grey-areas” of anorexia and bulemia. I also meant EDs like Sleep Eating Disorder and other lesser-known ones. Heck, even compulsive overeating is an eating disorder.

    Maggie- I am sorry if I did take the post the wrong way. Again, I did not mean my comment as an attack by any means. I also really appreciate your clarifications. I certainly agree with you that education is sorely lacking on health-related topics, among others. Please do not be offended by my comment; if it was too strong I do apologize. I understand what you mean and what you meant. I know you have plenty of empathy; my comment was not meant to insult you. I truly hope I did not.

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