Gym goers say Planet Fitness has become intolerable gym with Nazi rules

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Planet Fitness Inverness–photo by Ocala Post

Florida — Planet Fitness dubs itself as “The Judgment Free Zone,” with other signs that read, “you belong,” or “no critics,” but members say PF seems to be the biggest critics of all.

PF has also come under criticism for removing free-weight bench presses and squat racks. Additionally, members say they have left because of the ridiculous mask policy.

Over the past 10 years, PF has gained popularity. The gym started in 1992 as a small operation in New Hampshire, but is now the fastest-growing gym chain in the United States with over 750 locations nationwide.

The gym is actually a revolving door, meaning it cashes in on the fact that many members sign up and never actually step foot inside the gym.

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Co-founder and chief executive Chris Rondeau said that most gyms cater to roughly 15% of gym enthusiasts…a.k.a serious weightlifters. Instead, PF’s goal is to attract a much larger percentage of people who want to be healthier but will actually only use the gym a few times a month. A typical subscription business model where the goal of the gym is to make the most profit but offer very little as far as a substance to its clients. And analysts say removing all free weights was a sure way to ensure certain clientele will not attend the gym.

The gym enforces a strict rule system. There is no grunting allowed, and for a serious weightlifter, Dennis G. O’Connell, a professor of physical therapy at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, said the no grunt policy is absurd. Besides the no-grunt policy, there is also a policy of no bandannas, no jeans, and no banging weights. Planet Fitness believes this will make its target clientele of novice lifters feel more comfortable and have a “safe space” to work out.

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A spokesman for IDEA Health and Fitness Association, once told the New York Times, “I’ve never seen any gym that micromanages their customers like that. If they see someone talking, are they going to tell that person they’re disturbing other patrons? It’s wild.”

In 2006, bodybuilder and correctional officer, Albert Argibay, was at a PF with 500 pounds of weight on his shoulders one afternoon when the manager power walked over to him and told him it was time to leave. The manager said Argibay had violated one of the gym’s most sacred and strictly enforced rules… he was grunting.

Argibay told the manager that he was merely breathing heavily from lifting so much weight, to which the manager told him to walk upfront because his membership would be terminated. Argibay continued his workout, but moments later was escorted out by police.

At that time, police stated that no one in the gym complained. They said it was just that the manager either did not like the officer or was offended by his breathing. They said they did not take pleasure in escorting the man out.

In PF, if you grunt, they set off what they call the “lunk alarm.” Which is basically an ear-piercing tornado-type siren.

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Albert Argibay, a correction officer ejected from Planet Fitness for grunting – Photo by Susan Stava

The cancellation of memberships for grunting has happened many times and doesn’t stop there.

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The very statement describing a “lunk” is in itself judging.

In another instance, a man entered the women’s bathroom. In the bathroom area, there is also a locker room and showers. A woman who had been in the locker room changing reported it to the front desk. The man told management that he identified as a woman and the member was suspended from the gym for “discrimination.”

In 2016, a man was working out at the PF in Ocala, located on Maricamp Road. He was bench pressing 315 pounds on a Smith Machine. He was using a Smith machine because, as previously mentioned, PF removed all free-weight bench presses and squat racks. Smith machines do not allow for the use of stabilizer muscles and the machines are deemed more dangerous for bench pressing.

On his fourth set and fourth rep, he suffered a complete tear of his pectoral muscle and the tendon that attaches to the humorous had snapped away from the bone. He was unable to lock the machine to keep the weight falling on his chest. His 15-year-old son was not able to lift the weight. When the man called out for help, a staff member set off the “lunk alarm.” Again, he called out for help, and again, the staff member set off the “lunk alarm.”

Finally, another member helped his son lift off the weight. The man was driven to a local hospital. He underwent surgery and eventually recovered.

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The equipment required for doing these exercises has since been removed from PFs.

Now to the mask policy.

On February 3, 2021, a member was at the PF in Inverness working out. PF requires masks while in the lobby and while “roaming” the gym but not while lifting weights.

However, on Wednesday, the member said he and his daughter were at PF at approximately 10:30 p.m., while the gym was virtually empty, doing heavy curls.

The man said he and his daughter were several sets in when a staff member, who had harassed them multiple times before, walked over and told them that they didn’t have to wear a mask while lifting, but had to put the mask back on in between sets.

The man said he asked, “Is that a joke?”

The staff member told him it was PF policy.

The member said, “It is ridiculous to ask anyone to put on a mask in between sets when you are trying to catch your breath. That is not only absurd, but it’s also dangerous.” He said, “Any serious weightlifter needs that one to two minutes in between heavy sets. This is exactly the reason why the gym does not have serious clients. This is the reason so many have left for more expensive gyms that have not removed bench presses and don’t hover over you.” Adding, “This is just one of the reasons they have been nicknamed Planet Pansy.”

The man said he has contacted the corporate office to cancel his membership and plans to join a gym over in Crystal River that does not require masks and has real weightlifting equipment.

“I refuse to go to a gym where they have a Nazi mentality. I have only been a member for two weeks and I am not impressed. This is Citrus County…the sooner they realize that the better.”

Another member, who identified herself as Gloria, said, “PF has definitely become a gym for those who need a safe space and buy into cancel culture.” She went on to say, “Not only do I work out regularly, but I am also a personal trainer. As soon as my membership expires, I plan to join Too Your Health Spa.”

She said, “It is not even enjoyable to work out at [PF] because of all the rules and harassment from staff, especially for the mask policy. I used to work out with a group but they have all moved on because of the crazy rules.”

The stories for PF go on and on.