Planet Fitness started out in 1992 as a single, traditional gym in Dover, NH. The franchise shifted its focus to newbies to fitness and, in 2003, launched its first franchise location in Florida. Today, more than 1,400 locations are in operation.
Planet Fitness rests high on the ladder of big-box corporate gyms. Scratch that. Planet Fitness’ official stance is that its facilities are not gyms. The company came up with a brilliant marketing strategy.
Planet Fitness promotes a “No judgment zone” and a place “Where you belong.” There’s no “gym intimidation” allowed at any locations. The staff may forbid members from aggressive lifting (screaming, dropping weights), grunting, wearing revealing fitness clothes, and more.
In short, Planet Fitness caters to people who might find a hardcore bodybuilding gym and the culture that accompanies it intimidating. For those who are just starting to go to a gym or want a calm, non-competitive workout environment, Planet Fitness is a chain that’s thriving thanks to its inclusive atmosphere.
New members not familiar with how to perform basic exercises might need a little help, and personal trainers often provide the perfect assistance to newbies in need of help.
Unfortunately, Planet Fitness no longer allows personal training at its locations. Anyone interested in one-on-one training won’t find it at a Planet Fitness location.
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The Planet Fitness Personal Trainer Controversy
The CEO of Planet Fitness, Mike Grondahl, decided to ban personal training at chain and franchise locations. Several reasons factored into the decision; a controversial decision to say the least.
Grohndahl cited a few reasons why personal training was banned including his claim personal trainers solicited members on the floor for lessons, which can admittedly be pushy and disruptive.
Allowing one-on-one personal training became frowned upon by Planet Fitness’ upper management.
However, the “PE@PF” group classes can be valuable. PE@PF stands for physical education at Planet Fitness. These are “gym classes without the whistle” and run a half-hour each.
Different locations may have different classes, but members commonly find three types of specific sessions:
One Muscle Group
Commonly, three or four exercises are chosen for the session and performed at moderate intensity.
Sessions dedicated to arms, back, shoulders, legs, and abdominals can be selected. Hitting a group session three days a week means hitting a particular muscle group on a specific day and then giving the muscles time to rest.
With circuit training, you hit a particular machine for a set duration. The duration is timed by a green light/red light. You exercise on green and switch machines and rest on red.
Circuit training delivers a total body workout since the short sessions allow for hitting leg presses, leg raises, biceps curls, triceps extensions, ab crunches and more.
The short durations and low-intensity mostly turn the circuit workout into a cardio session more than a strength/mass building one, but that’s probably okay for many.
Design Your Own Program
The name tells all. The Planet Fitness trainer can help you devise a particular smart workout to assist you to meet your goals.
The program will not be high-intensity or violate any Planet Fitness workout rules. In other words, you can’t devise a bodybuilder or powerlifting program.
The huge benefit to working with an on-staff trainer is he/she crafts a program for you to perform on days/times without when solo training. A little bit of guidance goes a long way for newbies seeking results.
Now, one-on-one training remains preferable to many than group training. Small group sessions should be better than going it alone.
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Group Sessions Pros and Cons
Although the lack of formal one-on-one sessions has drawbacks, access to Planet Fitness physical education classes delivers some big positives. What are some of the pros and cons?
Here are three pros that should benefit members. These positives show some important benefits to the sessions.
You Get Proper Instruction on Exercise Performance
Whether one, two, or six people are in the session, a good trainer should explain the right way to do the exercises.
Trainers know the correct form for an exercise and make sure the member isn’t struggling with the weight. The knowledge gained from the sessions can be used when working out alone
Trainers Answer Questions
Do you have any questions about exercise and fitness? Ask the trainer.
They have been trained in the real of fitness coaching and know how to provide answers to common workout and diet questions that aren’t just easy to understand but also easy to implement.
You May Luck Out Into a One-on-One Session
You never know. Some days, you might be the only person who shows up for a scheduled group class. Good for you. You just lucked into a one-on-one session. Make the most of it.
And then come the cons. Group sessions do have some minor drawbacks, but these cons probably won’t turn too many people off from checking the sessions out.
Basic Fitness Routines
Since the classes are group classes, the trainer has to pick a series of the same exercises for everyone.
Group classes are a great way to meet new people and get a good workout, but if you want help reaching your personal exercise goals, then a one-on-one session with a trainer is a good idea.
Long Waits Between Sets
Long rest periods between sets are great for powerlifting workouts, but Planet Fitness classes aren’t exactly Olympic training.
The long waits result from having several people performing the exercises. You have to wait your turn meaning downtime instead of a more appropriately timed rest.
No Instruction on Certain Exercises
Certain exercises such as free barbell squats and overhead presses are a major part of a lot of intensive weight-training, but due to the “no gym intimidation” rule, these exercises are barred and won’t be a part of your training.
At $10, the pros of Planet Fitness outweigh the cons, especially for those on a budget. It’s also good to note that group sessions do not come with extra costs and are taught by experienced trainers.
Training Outside of Planet Fitness
One last point must be mentioned. You aren’t limited to only training at one fitness center.
Do the on-staff trainers at Planet Fitness also work as personal trainers at local gyms? If so, then booking one-on-one sessions with a preferred trainer at another site remains an option.
Of course, the option exists to work with another trainer not affiliated with Planet Fitness. The group sessions at Planet Fitness could suffice on those days when not working out with a primary trainer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do gyms have dress codes?
Yes, most gyms have some kind of dress code, however, they will differ. For example, CrossFit and ninja gyms are a lot less likely to require shirts, shoes, etc.
How do I find a good gym?
Word of mouth, trial and error, and scouring review sites like Yelp are all great ways to find a gym that you will feel comfortable in. Most gyms offer free trial periods, so use free trials to test out different gyms or fitness studios in your area.
What is the best time to go to the gym?
The best time to go to the gym is a time that works for you; however, some times are better than others in terms of the number of people exercising. Try to avoid the gym from 8-10 AM and 4-7 PM if you can as most people try to get work out directly before or directly after work.
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