Gym Showdown: Planet Fitness vs. Gold’s Gym

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a great holiday and enjoyed great food with even better company.

Believe it or not there are only 27 days left in 2013, which means those New Year’s resolutions aren’t that far away. For many people, that means making a resolution to get healthy, and getting started by joining a gym. Allow me to weigh in on which gym that should be, and more importantly shouldn’t be.

When I moved about 2 years ago, Planet Fitness was so close to my new apartment that it was clearly going to be my new gym. I joined Planet Fitness and let me tell you, I’ve never been so disappointed and upset by a fitness facility before. I desperately tried to like it, but only lasted a few months before canceling my membership. Let me break down why:

– Equipment: I know equipment tends to vary at each gym. At this particular Planet Fitness you have the basics, cardio machines, resistance machines, and free weights. It’s enough to get done what you need for a basic workout and nothing more. No classes are offered, let’s not get fancy. Also they limit their free weights at this gym to 90 lbs max. For me this is a non-issue, but for guys (or girls!) looking to lift, that is extremely low. The area for stretching and ab work is tiny and cramped.

– Staff: Generally friendly. We didn’t interact much.

– Atmosphere: I think the atmosphere is what irks me the most. It’s all about being “judgment free” and bashing “lunks” aka body builders, super healthy people, etc. Do you sense a contradiction? Not judging their members yet criticizing people for what they’re perceived to be… interesting. To take it a step further, there’s a “lunk alarm” for people that put down weights too loudly or make noise while lifting, as if doing this is the end of the world. This alarm is incredibly loud, annoying, and always caught me off guard. I don’t see the point, am I supposed to be concerned or bothered that someone put down weights too quickly? Is the person who caused the alarm supposed to be shamed while working out? Planet Fitness is really missing the point on this whole “judgment free” thing.

Also adding to this atmosphere is Planet Fitness’ all-you-can-eat free pizza on the first Monday of every month and the same thing with bagels on the first Tuesday of every month. Don’t worry, there’s also candy available all the time at the entrance. So that sets the tone of your workout. Pizza, bagels, and candy. Motivating, I know.

After months of unhappy and inadequate workouts, I finally canceled my Planet Fitness membership and immediately joined the local Gold’s Gym – and I LOVE it. I now drive a bit further and pay more than at Planet Fitness, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. I should note that I was a Gold’s Gym member before moving and had built great relationships over time with fellow gym goers and trainers, so I’ve had a good experience at Gold’s in the past. At this new Gold’s Gym there are tons of different cardio machines, resistance training machines, weight lifting, tons of free space for stretching/ab work/ etc., yoga classes, spin classes, and dance/cardio classes. The locker room is also much more impressive. The staff always says hello and goodbye and can answer any of my questions. The previous Gold’s Gym that I was a member at was very similar, though this new Gold’s is a bit roomier. I honestly can’t recommend Gold’s Gym enough – they’ve got the right idea about what a gym should be.

There are plenty of gyms out there, Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym obviously aren’t your only options. Either way, when you’re deciding on a gym to join make sure you visit ahead of time, have one of the employees take you on a tour and ask plenty of questions. Make sure you get a good “vibe” and if you don’t, then don’t join. Most importantly, never trust a gym that supplies you with an unlimited amount of refined carbohydrates and ho-hum fitness equipment. That gym doesn’t have your best interests in mind. Sorry Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym wins this showdown by a landslide!

Have you been to Planet Fitness or Gold’s Gym? What are your impressions? What other gyms do you love or hate?


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