Are you a member of the "Planet Fitness" gym chain? If so, we regret to inform you that your gym must be doused in gasoline and set alight immediately. Why? One poor, fit woman's tale should explain.
I will preface this by saying that, while the following story is being reported as real live news by multiple legitimate news outlets, it sure does sound like bad fiction. No matter. We will push ahead and bring the story to you, the potential gym member, so that you may decide for yourself. The story, as first reported by Oakland's KTVU, concerns one Tiffany Austin, who joined Planet Fitness in order to "get back in shape after recovering from a recent car accident." But her first workout on the treadmill did not go well:
According to Austin that staff member said, "excuse me we've had some complaints you're intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?"
Austin said that she even donned one of the awful gym's complimentary shirts, but was again approached by a Planet Fitness staff member, at which point she decided to end her time as a Planet Fitness customer. The gym in question referred calls to the corporate spokesperson, who told KTVU that such staff actions would not be "in line with the Planet Fitness policy." There was not, however, any denial of the story.
Now: Tiffany Austin, as you can see in this video, is a reasonably fit but by no means intimidating person. This entire incident is brimming over with absurdity. I would be tempted to dismiss this story as unlikely, if it were not perfectly in line with Planet Fitness's entire corporate mission statement: "No Gymtimidation. No Lunks." This is a gym that specifically bans intense exercise. This is a gym that installs an actual alarm that may be pressed if someone is perceived to be working out too hard. This is a gym that once called the police on a customer who was "grunting" while squatting 500 pounds.
If you squat 500 pounds you may make any god damn sound that you wish.
Planet Fitness, a shitty gym which no one should ever join, would have its customers believe that all of this anti-strenuous-workout propaganda is for the benefit of its own patrons—all part of their "Judgement [SIC] Free Zone® philosophy, which means members can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms." In fact, the opposite is true. Planet Fitness would like to cultivate a membership full of people who despise exercise and are unlikely to become committed regular users of their gym facilities, while continuing to pay them membership fees. Planet Fitness can do this quite effectively by recruiting people who fear the concept of exercise, soothing them with assurances that no real exercise will be taking place in the gym that they join.
Who loses? Planet Fitness customers, who are not only subjected to a garish purple color scheme, but who (if they do beat the odds and actually go to the gym) are subjected to an atmosphere in which what would most benefit them—serious exercise—is explicitly discouraged. Leave aside the direct insults to people who are fit and do know how to work out; Planet Fitness is doing a grave injustice to people who are not familiar with exercise, by selling them the myth that going to the gym should be an easy, pleasant experience free of troublesome sweating and grunting and other things that are inherent in getting a good workout.
Patronizing and lying to the people who most need good fitness guidance is not doing them a service.
Perhaps Planet Fitness's unfortunate customers will finally be able to "feel the burn" as they watch Planet Fitness burn to the ground (from god's wrath).