The Truth Behind Planet Fitness

For my readers who know me, I care very much about my health and fitness. Like most of us, I’ve fallen off the wagon a time or two, I mean, pizza and beer are so, so good!

However, as I approach 50 years of age and after being given a diagnosis of being pre-diabetic over two years ago, I dropped the fast food, daily beer, and refined carbohydrates for a healthier lifestyle, grass-fed meats, vegetables, and continued my long-standing membership with my local gym (the Arena Club in Churchville, Maryland is a great gym!).

That said, I had many people in my life advise me about Planet Fitness (PF, from here on out). As you might have surmised by my opening photo/meme, I’m not a fan of PF. Not because it is a bad gym, per se, but because I very clearly understand their business model.

Where I live in Maryland, we have not one, but two PF locations, but my local gym is crushing it because PF simply can’t compare.

PF’s entire business model is designed to attract the 80% of Americans who don’t go to a gym at all or are discouraged from joining a gym due to personal “intimidation” (or what PF calls “gymtimidation”) and/or cost.

I pay over $100 a month for my wife and myself to go to our local gym (not including personal training or other special amenities). To me, you get what you pay for.

However, paying just $10 or $15 per month (depending on your level of PF membership) is pretty enticing to people who want to join a gym, but simply can’t afford or justify paying 5 times that much just to do cardio or lift light weights and hangout, which is what most people do when they join any gym.

All gyms rely on the large portion of their clientele who join in January, quit showing up by March, and then pay the gym fees for the next 5-10 years and never put any wear and tear on the gym’s equipment. Those people keep the costs lower for the rest of us. PF is actually very smart because they do the same thing the other gyms do only on volume.

PF has pizza Fridays and bagel Mondays and offer Tootsie Rolls at the registration desk daily at all of their gyms. Very counterproductive and counterintuitive for a gym if you are serious about fitness, but again, PF is trying to attract and retain the people who would otherwise not join a gym at all.

Why not offer pizza, bagels, and candy if it brings the “hangout and feel good” crowd to their gyms?

PF is NOT for the serious fitness aficionado, and that’s exactly the point.

This business model is working well for PF. It is not my kind of gym, but I fully understand why it works for others.

If you just want a place to do 30 minutes on the treadmill or the elliptical, get a massage, catch a tan, and hangout with friends for an hour with the added bonus of having free pizza one Friday a month, then PF is the perfect place for you.

The investor in me would buy stock in PF if it were a publicly traded company (it’s not). However, I’d never join PF for all of the reasons stated above, but I fully understand the appeal.

For what you get, it’s totally worth it. After all, we get what we pay for. Always.

-The Rational Ram

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