Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"I've thrown up many times working out, but it's all worth it." Arnold Schwarzenegger
May 9, 2011 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Why is the Planet Fitness chain of health clubs trying to alienate people who love to work out? [Via Slate.com] "Maybe you've seen the one where a greased up Schwarzenegger-type swaggers through the gym repeating the mantra, "I pick things up and put them down." Or the one where another "lunk"—that's what Planet Fitness calls these sorts of people—struggles to tie his shoes. A third shows a screaming gym buffoon as he fills out a membership application, flexing and making sound effects as if he's maxing out on the squat rack. "Not his planet, yours," reads the tag line."
posted by Fizz (187 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Will no one think of the attractive, fit people?
posted by The Whelk at 7:41 AM on May 9, 2011 [37 favorites]


Those guys actually *use* the gym, why would you want them as customers if instead you can get lazy people who keep paying you the monthly fees but never actually go? You save a *ton* on facilities that way.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:46 AM on May 9, 2011 [111 favorites]


I don't get why on the outro to the Pick Things Up commercial, they clearly have the same guy say "Cool" as the Planet Fitness thumbs up pops up. Why? Didn't you just show that guy to be an idiot? That you don't want at your club? So why are you offering his recommendation now?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Orange privilege.

For serious though, it's probably cheaper to run a gym that people hardly use.
posted by ODiV at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was a member of a Planet Fitness for a few years, and I never saw the "lunk alarm" go off or heard of anyone being lectured for working out too hard. If anything, I wish they had a "ding dong alarm" for all the people who worked out in groups of 3-4 and stood around watching each other use 1 machine, getting in everybody's way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why is the Planet Fitness chain of health clubs trying to alienate people who love to work out?
To get people that are not like that to come to their gym.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:48 AM on May 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


I thought the Curves-for-men thing summed it up pretty well. Think of it this way. To the average person a join fee, a heavy monthly fee, and various weird people working out in a place are enough to keep them away. This company is trying to offer an option that appeals to those average-people. Nothing wrong with that. My preferred workout arena of choice is a dance studio, and that's sure not for everyone...but it's for me.
posted by FunkyStar at 7:49 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, this one time I went to Burger King and they didn't have braised duck with a balsamic reduction on the menu!
posted by incessant at 7:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [26 favorites]


Sucks that this is the only gym in America. Maybe they'll have to go lift big rocks or something.
posted by JimmyJames at 7:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Because if you take all of the pieces of equipment in a gym ("x") and multiply this by the number of minutes in a week ("y"), the product will be less than the number of members of that gym ("z").

x * y < z

Ideally, the majority of gym members will be those least likely to use "x" for any "y" during the average week. (Except January...which is always pandemonium).

This is also, incidentally, the exact business model of all gym chains.
posted by jefficator at 7:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because if you take all of the pieces of equipment in a gym ("x") and multiply this by the number of minutes in a week ("y"), the product will be less than the number of members of that gym ("z").

This makes no sense.
posted by kenko at 7:55 AM on May 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


It's a silly attitude but definitely smart business. The "lunks" should probably not let themselves get trolled so hard. Though really, any gym that doesn't allow deadlifts is probably the worst gym ever.
posted by ghharr at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why on earth would bodybuilders go to planet fitness? They have their own gyms staffed by their own kind who maintain their own equipment and occasionally clean the shower stalls where their customers slowly and rhythmically wash their rippling, veiny rock-hard bodies and perhaps eye each other with furtive glances filled with fear and desire and

Wait, what were we talking about?
posted by Avenger at 7:57 AM on May 9, 2011 [102 favorites]


Not surprising at all given the critique mentioned in this previous post:

Commercial health clubs need about 10 times as many members as their facilities can handle, so designing them for athletes, or even aspiring athletes, makes no sense. Fitness fanatics work out too much, making every potential new member think, Nah, this place looks too crowded for me. The winning marketing strategy, according to Recreation Management Magazine, a health club–industry trade rag, focuses strictly on luring in the “out-of-shape public,” meaning all of those people whose doctors have told them, “About 20 minutes three times a week,” who won’t come often if ever, and who definitely won’t join unless everything looks easy, available, and safe. The entire gym, from soup to nuts, has been designed around getting suckers to sign up, and then getting them mildly, vaguely exercised every once in a long while, and then getting them out the door.

Translation: gyms can maximize profits in the short-term by getting people to sign up for membership but never actually work out. So the 'lunks' who want to work out a lot, using cheap free weights and bodyweight exercises, are the worst customers.
posted by googly at 7:58 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


On more than one occasion, in different locations around the country, I've been lectured by staffers for breathing too hard when lifting, and I've gotten dirty looks for excessive sweating in the weight room.

SERIOUSLY?
posted by naju at 7:58 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Q: Why is the Planet Fitness chain of health clubs trying to alienate people who love to work out?

A: Health clubs make more money the more people who pay for them. A person who works out every day pays the same amount as a person who comes in once a week. A person who works out every day takes up space (or a machine) every day, so they can support only 1/7th as many as the once-a-weekers. The ideal health club customer is someone who pays every month and never ever walks in the door.
posted by Plutor at 8:01 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


In March, a group of lunk activists successfully banded together to have the Planet Fitness You Tube channel shut down by organizing a mass flagging of their commercials as offensive material.

Really classy.
posted by bjrn at 8:02 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I can't seem to find a different previous post (maybe deleted) where some guy goes off on gyms by putting them in two categories -- the "iron" gyms (or rusty gyms?) where "real" weight lifters go, and the posh cardio gyms where effeminate lifters go .. Between that, and his other blog posts linked off the main post here did not go over well here.
posted by k5.user at 8:03 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's situations like this that led me to the cheapest gym in the world: the road. I've been running for 6 months now and I've lost 30 lbs. Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power.
posted by Fizz at 8:03 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


God damn but weightlifters are a whiny bunch.
posted by enn at 8:03 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Slight tangent, but are there any pay-per-use gyms, or pay-per-hour gyms? I used to spend on average $500 per visit to my gym before I noticed and quit, but in the hot weather I'd kill to have somewhere air-conditioned to do some exercise in...
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:04 AM on May 9, 2011


Man I desperately want to work out where the boom pow guy works out.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 8:07 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


In the sense of strange marketing, look at say Volkswagen ads where some asshole who drives a Volkswagen parks not where everyone else parks, but right in front of the grocery store so he has to save the car from being dinged by shopping carts. The message is supposed to be if you're a Volkswagen owner, you really care for your Volkswagen and you'll put your body in harm's way to protect it but the message I got is if you are a Volkswagen owner, you could be the sort of lazy asshole who can't be bothered to park where everyone else does, but needs to be as close as possible to the store to walk less. Also, you lack the ability to make intelligent decisions because you park your car right beside the shopping cart collection area.

I would not be surprised if appealing to the arrogance and assholishness of some people is part of marketing. See the Wiser commercials (real men are assholes who drink our booze) and the Apple I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ads (PCs are dumb but loveable, Macs are great and make fun of you) for more examples.
posted by juiceCake at 8:07 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hm. I don't get the hate.

As a Dude of Average Proportions who usually takes out a month-to-month gym membership from November to March to maintain my Average Proportions during the lazier winter months, when it's far too cold to run/bike/row outside, I like the idea of a gym that isn't elitist, intimidating, judgmental, or seriously harmful to my self-esteem.

I'm not sure that Planet Fitness actually embodies any of those attributes (actually, I doubt it), but they're all great selling points in my book.

Some of us work out to stay healthy, rather than for vanity.
posted by schmod at 8:09 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's situations like this that led me to the cheapest gym in the world: the road. I've been running for 6 months now and I've lost 30 lbs. Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power.

I have some friends who are huge into running, and that's great for them - and you - but the road doesn't make that great a place for serious lifting. What, are you going to jog a bit and then pick up someone's motorcycle? Weight loss and aerobic exercise are not the only goals people have for their workouts.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:09 AM on May 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


Slight tangent, but are there any pay-per-use gyms, or pay-per-hour gyms? I used to spend on average $500 per visit to my gym before I noticed and quit, but in the hot weather I'd kill to have somewhere air-conditioned to do some exercise in...


A friend of mine once told me about some gyms in Europe that had a system whereby you created a contract with the gym. Free to use as long as you keep your promise (two, three or four times a week). If you failed to meet your end of the bargain you were charged a penalty. You better believe this would motivate many people into staying fit and healthy.
posted by Fizz at 8:10 AM on May 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


It strikes me as an ad targeting the self conscious. I mean, who really wants to be lifting 30 pound weights when some guy across the room is having sex with a 150 pound bench press?
posted by Slackermagee at 8:10 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've heard they have a policy against deadlifting, which is an exercise a lot of fitness-oriented people are big on.

And if you want to do weight lifting, a gym is a very good idea as opposed to buying all the equipment, even used. Bodyweight exercises aren't as efficient, and cardio or endurance running aren't the same thing.

About the only reason people into fitness go to Planet Fitness is if it's the only gym near them or the only gym they can afford. Planet Fitness is pretty cheap compared to most other gyms, including small local gyms that cater more to bodybuilders/powerlifters. If you don't need to do deadlifts and can be quiet and subtle about your workout (which is difficult for a lot of people because you need to breathe somewhat intensely to lift safely), and ignore the unhealthy things like pizza day and the free tootsie rolls, it's not terrible.

I read about a lot of this drama on reddit's /r/fitness, back when I was into getting in shape for a bit. School happened, I got stressed and unmotivated, but at least my diet stayed decent. Since it's summer, I'll probably get back on the bandwagon.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:11 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The commercials described are not of "people who love to work out" they are of "over-muscled weirdos". Maybe they are trying to attract people actually do love to work out or at least want to do so without feeling like a pencil-necked geek?
posted by DU at 8:11 AM on May 9, 2011


Previously
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:12 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kind of funny that people go to gyms like PF so they aren't judged, yet they do the same thing when they see someone lift weights.
posted by booticon at 8:14 AM on May 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's situations like this that led me to the cheapest gym in the world: the road. I've been running for 6 months now and I've lost 30 lbs. Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power.

Perhaps because you live in a place where the temperature is regularly below freezing for a decent chunk of the year and you're not some kind of insane endurance runner who doesn't call it a workout unless he/she has frostbite?
posted by zachlipton at 8:15 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


For serious though, it's probably cheaper to run a gym that people hardly use.

Of course, that is the business model. You break even on the users, but the profit comes from the recurrent billers who come once every few months for a few days in a row.
posted by atrazine at 8:18 AM on May 9, 2011


I'd add a bit of gas to the fire by stating that the the CEO of Planet Fitness, Mike Grondahl, has also banned the use of Personal Trainers at their Gyms: "Grondahl began the letter by claiming that most people doing personal training are “just renting friends.” …” who the hell needs a friend for 50 bucks an hour?” “For us to be selling personal training is a fraud and downright condescending to anyone who can breathe,” he wrote.

So yeah - here's a bunch of unused equipment - have at it - hope you know how to use it properly and effectively and when and how to change up your workout.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:19 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel like a thing with the Planet Fitness marketing is that they're saying at other gyms, people are "judging" you. Which implies that people think less of you if you are overweight or just starting out, and will wish you wouldn't invade their gym.

However, the fitness community, at least that I've seen online, doesn't seem to have that schoolyard mentality. They're generally happy to see out of shape people trying to get healthier. They may get annoyed by people not putting away or wiping down equipment, but that's not a factor of a person's fitness. That's just bad etiquette.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:20 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never understood the concept of going to a special place to pay to work. I know a place that needs butchers on the assembly line that will get you sweating.
posted by Bitter soylent at 8:21 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm going to write a response article complaining about how I joined a gym targeted towards olympic weightlifters and there was a serious lack of ellipticals and no one supported my exercise plan of walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes.

We all have different needs. If you are not the target audience for PF, don't give them your money. Simple as that.
posted by fermezporte at 8:22 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think this probably has more to do with marketing types who are actually clueless about the actual message their "edgy" creative sends.

See also: "I GOT A WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!"
posted by Thorzdad at 8:22 AM on May 9, 2011


"It's situations like this that led me to the cheapest gym in the world: the road. I've been running for 6 months now and I've lost 30 lbs. Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power.
posted by Fizz at 8:03 AM on May 9 [+] [!] "


I think I get how this works, let me try.

People pay a monthly fee for gym membership because they want to be big and strong, not the fragile, injury prone guy who has to buy a new pair of running sneakers every 3 months?
posted by youthenrage at 8:23 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's situations like this that led me to the cheapest gym in the world: the road. I've been running for 6 months now and I've lost 30 lbs. Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power."

Perhaps because you live in a place where the temperature is regularly below freezing for a decent chunk of the year and you're not some kind of insane endurance runner who doesn't call it a workout unless he/she has frostbite?


Or you have kids and need the gym's child care facilities?
posted by KathrynT at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


WRTTFA, the adverts are just using the Globo Gym(YT)/Average Joe's dichotomy from Dodgeball, right?

(Also, looking at the Iron Sport Gym counter-advert, I did find myself repeatedly thinking "Wow, the dude from OK Go got really big...")
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went to a serious bodybuilder-type gym for years, because it was closest to me and didn't require long term contracts. Yeah, when I started out as a skinny little wimp I walked in self-conscious and thought I'd be intimidated. I quickly learned that was all in my head, and rapidly regretted that I'd let that high schoolish mental junk prevent me from going years earlier than I did.
posted by dnash at 8:26 AM on May 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


> Some of us work out to stay healthy, rather than for vanity.

Oh give over. I'm a big guy, and I do it for health too. Swimming and cycling are the things I love to do and if I could I would do nothing else. I am however very easily depressed and nothing, nothing, nothing gets the endorphins flowing like lifting heavy things. When I lift I can have bad days and not want to kill myself.
posted by vbfg at 8:27 AM on May 9, 2011 [26 favorites]


At my gym there's a skinny little guy in his forties. He weighs maybe 145 lbs and can squat twice as much as me. He is a source of inspiration, but also shame.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I remember watching the ad with the "pick things up" guy and thinking it was a douchey ad. Of course, I also hated the "Mac" in the Mac vs PC ads and the annoying hipster couple in the Leow's ads.

But my true wrath is reservewd for the annoying cutesy twee-assed chick in that singing Truvia ad. Somebody gag her please.
posted by jonmc at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I feel like a thing with the Planet Fitness marketing is that they're saying at other gyms, people are "judging" you. Which implies that people think less of you if you are overweight or just starting out, and will wish you wouldn't invade their gym.

This is exactly how I imagine the usual gyms. Not saying they are like that, but I think that is how the public eye sees them.

(I signed up for a lazy people's gym, went for a few month, and am supporting their business model since.)
posted by _Lasar at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2011


I used to go to a local gym now and then as a guest, they had a very clear separation between the free weights area and the rest of the machines. It fits in with the idea the author talked about in the article. Everyone seemed to like it. Of course it requires enough floor space and the right building layout but even such a token attempt is better than alienation.
posted by tommasz at 8:34 AM on May 9, 2011


This is exactly how I imagine the usual gyms. Not saying they are like that, but I think that is how the public eye sees them.

Yeah. I mean, hell, my friends are some of the bodybuilding gym rats, and I still get intimidated.

I have to say, it's one reason I love rock climbing gyms. I'm far down at the newbie end of the scale, but the crazy guys with sculpted arms scampering up a 30 degree incline with two fingers on each hand and a toe here and there? Those are the guys actively and enthusiastically cheering me on when I struggle up a low-end bouldering problem, calling out genuinely useful advice about foot placement, and congratulating me when I finish.

I mean, okay, they can also get back to their own work only when I get out of the way and free up that wall space. But it's still incredibly welcoming and I can't remember the last time I felt so comfortable being incompetent around experienced people.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:35 AM on May 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


I always preferred boxing gyms, myself. They tend to be fairly empty, cheap, and unpretentious. And you can work heavy punching bags too!
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:36 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think that is hostile to anyone who might want to actually use their facilities, check out the "Lunk alarm". They have a policy against "grunting"NYT and just in case you have somehow not yet gotten the message that their equipment is decorative and that you are in fact not supposed to use it, they make doubly sure that it is not lost on you by sounding an alarm and publicly revoking your membership.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:39 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]



If you think that is hostile to anyone who might want to actually use their facilities, check out the "Lunk alarm". They have a policy against "grunting"NYT and just in case you have somehow not yet gotten the message that their equipment is decorative and that you are in fact not supposed to use it, they make doubly sure that it is not lost on you by sounding an alarm and publicly revoking your membership.


Man, whatever pale-skinned dweeb wrote that is just asking to get sand kicked in his face next time he's at the beach. ;)
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2011


I don't care how big you are. But carrying around a gallon water jug and filling and mixing your foul-smelling milky workout liquids in the drinking fountain is asshole behavior. And people who don't use the locker room and shlep their coats and bulky gym bags around the floor are assholes as well.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:42 AM on May 9, 2011


About the only reason people into fitness go to Planet Fitness is if it's the only gym near them or the only gym they can afford. Planet Fitness is pretty cheap compared to most other gyms, including small local gyms that cater more to bodybuilders/powerlifters.

That's the reason I joined. It's even cheaper than my local YMCA.

As for the whole "lunk alarm" and such, I think that varies widely by location. There are those who are stricter about the whole "lunk alarm" thing, but I've heard that others are nothing like that and are more "whatever, grunt if you want to". I've also heard that some scoff at the idea of personal trainers, but others have them. (It sounds like the CEO letter quoted above is only banning the use of personal trainers you pay to come in with you special; PF staff does show people how to use the machines for free.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:44 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I go to a climbing gym probably more often than is necessary or healthy, and I try to be one of those helpful, encouraging types Tomorrowful speaks of when I can, but if I did go to a gym-gym - to get on the ergometer, say - I would actually prefer a gym that isn't habituated by 'bodybuilders'. So, if I were to be in that market, these ads would definitely speak to me.
posted by Flashman at 8:44 AM on May 9, 2011


See also: fast-food-burger joints and vegetarians. Why would a restaurant alienate people who like to eat food?!?!?!

Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power.

It doesn't work for everyone, but I agree. I try to make my commute part of my workout and not to skip any stairs (helps to work on the 5th floor). Still, depending on what you're trying to do with your body, biking/running can't do it all. But yeah, jump rope in the park and all that.

I use the Y, mostly for classes and swimming. But a lot of people lift weights there. The idea of a one-size-fits-all gym is silly. There are too many possibilities for athletic training. This gym's marketing department is playing on that fact to make fun of a small group of people in order to seduce their 1,000x counterparts into monthly memberships.

See also: light beers and men with handbags/other effeminate attributes. Why would a beer company alienate people who like to drink beer?!?!?!?

See also: Evil Tactic #5
posted by mrgrimm at 8:47 AM on May 9, 2011


I feel like a thing with the Planet Fitness marketing is that they're saying at other gyms, people are "judging" you.

Heh. As opposed to the people walking by the long, glass window that is one wall of the Planet Fitness facility in the local shopping mall - it's an endless parade of folks strolling toward the movie theater gawking in at the people working out (to be fair it's probably equal parts people wanting to ogle in-shape bodies and to judge flabby ones). But there's no way I would use a gym that's that much of a goldfish bowl.

And I agree what others have said about the PF ads' target audience being out-of-shape people who buy memberships which they then rarely, if ever, use. It's pretty cynical.
posted by aught at 8:50 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


As opposed to the people walking by the long, glass window that is one wall of the Planet Fitness facility in the local shopping mall -

Heh. On the way to my bar there's a Crunch gym. The treadmills are all by the window, butts facing out. Cool.
posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on May 9, 2011


For serious though, it's probably cheaper to run a gym that people hardly use.

Not only is it cheaper -- that's precisely the business model. When designing a gym, you design it so that only a percentage of your customers can actually effectively use it at any one time. You actively don't want the majority of your customers to become "regulars."

This is why the treadmills are full. Because buying more treadmills is counter-productive.

It's like building freeways. The more freeways you build, the more people will drive on them, even if they weren't driving before. Traffic grows to fill the available space.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:52 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the sense of strange marketing, look at say Volkswagen ads where some asshole who drives a Volkswagen parks not where everyone else parks, but right in front of the grocery store so he has to save the car from being dinged by shopping carts.

Um. Pretty sure that was just a framing device so that the viewer knew the car was parked in a grocery store lot.
posted by schmod at 8:56 AM on May 9, 2011


I've done just about every kind of workout in just about every kind of gym. The bodybuilder gyms are always the worst. Not because of lunkheads or inconsiderate water bottle fillers.

It is because their workout demands dictate they monopolize the free weight areas forever and Joe Average just isn't go up to them and ask them to share when they are a couple of mountains of muscle throwing around that weight would crush an ordinary human being.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the guys doing naked manscaped muscle poses in the locker room.

So yeah.. I prefer gyms where the bodybuilders are not present in large numbers but that have decent free weights. Which means I now workout at home.
posted by srboisvert at 8:57 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I never understood the concept of going to a special place to pay to work. I know a place that needs butchers on the assembly line that will get you sweating.

Yes, standing in a freezer all day sawing raw meat for a pittance is clearly the superior lifestyle.
posted by ghharr at 8:57 AM on May 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


incessant wins!
posted by jeffburdges at 8:59 AM on May 9, 2011


Really? A gym that gives away pizza and Tootsie Rolls?
posted by grouse at 9:02 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My and my wife's Most Hated Commercial of Recent Memory.

There's just so much going on with this commercial that makes sure I will never by a Tacoma truck. From the generic hardcorez rock to the douche in sunglasses going WOOO at 21 secs, this commercial marks this truck as something that is clearly not for me.

But that can happen for any product. What makes this one so hated? It's the lyric "Push the Limit" that for the longest time I heard as "Touchdown Living" - a concept that I could see American advertisers trying to push. Think about it, what would Touchdown Living be? A constant celebration of immediate accomplishment. A never ending worship of little victories. Going WOOO a lot. Driving your truck around the desert for some reason, rather than say, using it to haul a load of materials for work. Combine that with the question "How Cool Is This?" - a question that has never, ever needed to be asked outside of gazpacho making. If you need to ask how cool something is, it probably isn't very.

For my wife, the commercial was even more inexplicable because she didn't hear "Push the Limit" (What, just the one limit? And I limited to the amount of limits I can push? ARGGHIHATEYOUTACOMA). No, she heard "Bus Stop Living," which might say more about her need for a good ear doctor, but really paints a different picture of your average Tacoma driver. They live at the bus stop, you see, and have so much to be sad about, so much so that their only joy is in driving their truck around. Before going back to the bus stop.

Still, as this commercial seems to have dropped out of heavy rotation finally, our hatred is fading. Well, that and a new commercial seems headed to Number 1 With A Bullet, The Xfinity Endless Fast Internet commercial which I hate for a multitude of reasons, including the earworm-like song and the fact that I'm already a Comcast customer which makes advertising at me a waste and their wild over-estimation of the levels of funding NASA receives.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:05 AM on May 9, 2011 [27 favorites]


I never understood the concept of going to a special place to pay to work. I know a place that needs butchers on the assembly line that will get you sweating.

As someone whose family does exactly this kind of work, I would love to tell you about the amount of exercise and physical therapy my father has to do to combat the repetitive stress injuries that his job has inflicted on him. I can't think of many jobs which are designed to work particular muscle groups in a way that encourages true physical fitness. There are people whose bodies become very lean or muscular for a short time during their careers, but injuries they sustain on the job, plus the bad habits (such as alcoholism) that creep in to compensate for the monotony and unpleasantness of their work, ensure that they don't reap many long-term benefits.
posted by hermitosis at 9:05 AM on May 9, 2011 [25 favorites]


Robocop, that can;t be a national commercial right? Cause it looks like someone made in afternoon by a sugared up eight year old pulling clips off youtube.

Also you have described gamification. And why I hate it.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


As opposed to the people walking by the long, glass window that is one wall of the Planet Fitness facility in the local shopping mall -

Heh. On the way to my bar there's a Crunch gym. The treadmills are all by the window, butts facing out. Cool.


I always wondered about that strategy, i.e. who would want to join a gym where anyone on the street can watch you work out? I suppose it discourages users, but wouldn't it discourage subscribers as well?

I suppose it self-selects for the most attractive and fit users, so it's positive (deceptive) marketing in that regard, i.e. come in here and look like this.

My and my wife's Most Hated Commercial of Recent Memory.

I'm not sure it's fair to make fun of local car dealership commercials. Fish in a barrel.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2011


I might be semi-local, I don't know. I do know that our local NBC (WHDH7 in Boston) station tends to wrap its clutching graspers around the throat of five or six commercials and tries to throttle them down the viewer's throat every commercial break.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2011


I always wondered about that strategy, i.e. who would want to join a gym where anyone on the street can watch you work out?

Narcissists. Exhibitionists.

Also, Let's kill the Truvia people.
posted by jonmc at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not allowed back at my gym due to a big misunderstanding, but I think they would save themselves a lot of trouble if they did not call them 'free weights.'
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:14 AM on May 9, 2011 [55 favorites]


I've had hostility problems with gym rats before. Pick the wrong gym, and they'll give you all kinds of nasty hassle if you aren't buffed and cut to begin with. I picked one within walking distance of my old apartment, which apparently was a mistake.

It was all passive aggressive and general bad-attitude rather than confrontation, but I'm a pretty big guy, and it was clear they wanted to push me around for being fat, but were afraid to. It was a weird, weird scene. If I were short and fat or slender, it would have been a real stressful afternoon.

It's nice to know there are gyms that are emphatically not like that. I'm only now getting back into lifting at my company's employees-only gym.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Tacoma ad, to me, doesn't seem that bad. Pickup trucks are meant to be powerful vehicles that stand up to a lot of abuse. Toyota is bragging that theirs seems to have no limits. They have to push the fact that their trucks are so awesome, you can be forgiven for not buying a domestic truck.

That's not really what I look for in a car. But I guess if you're a macho contractor type who could use a pickup, that might appeal to you.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:18 AM on May 9, 2011


kenko : This makes no sense.

Why did this get 9 (so far) favorites? Dimensional analysis, not hard, people.

He said that the number of members exceeds the number of equipment-minutes available per week. Simple as that. If every member actually visited the gym for even one minute per week, the gym would need to expand. And even that ignores the problem of popular-vs-uncommonly-used equipment.
posted by pla at 9:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Push-ups at home are free. When it's sunny, so is the park.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:19 AM on May 9, 2011


Of course, I also hated the "Mac" in the Mac vs PC ads and the annoying hipster couple in the Leow's ads.


Possibly interesting sidenote - Justin Long in the "Get a Mac" campaign is often remembered as a collar-popped four-star douchebag, but the writers actually worked hard to make him supportive and friendly towards PC, whereas PC was defensive and insecure. However, Hodgman's underdog likeability means that Long is often "blamed" by viewers1 for bullying the shlubby everyman.

This was often seen as a slip by TBWA, but I think it actually works - Long was an aspirational figure for the people Apple were targeting, largely - people who were, thought they were or wished they were as young, attractive and effortlessly triumphant as Long. The people who sympathized hard with Hodgman were largely people who either had a Mac (geeks, effectively) or who needed different reasons to switch than what "Get a Mac" was selling.

You can see the same dynamic in the Planet Fitness ads - they don't need to worry about alienating hardcore bodybuilders, because they aren't set up for hardcore bodybuilders and hardcore bodybuilders would probably not be interested in using them anyway.

1 The whiplashing hawser of this effect kicked in in the British version of the same ads, which cast David Mitchell and Robert Webb as PC and Mac. It sounds like a perfect casting until you think that at that point Webb was still most famous for his portrayal of Jez in Peep Show - a vain, self-absorbed, dishonest and ruinously stupid character notable for thinking he embodied all the virtues a Mac was supposed to express (attractive, artistic, creative, enviable, popular) but being monstrously deluded on every count. The Japanese versions are surprisingly faithful, but I don't know enough about the Rahmens to know what the existing relationship with viewers might have been.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:19 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


A year ago, Planet Fitness's weird shaming advertising would have totally worked on me. I'm a petite lady who associated gyms with slaving on a treadmill for 45 minutes, watching daytime talk shows and hating my life. I ate "healthy" processed foods with organic stamps on the boxes and was 20 pounds overweight. I joined a PF-like gym and promptly gave on my 6-month membership about 3 weeks in. I was their ideal customer!

Then I read Gary Taubes and Mark Rippetoe and joined a weightlifting gym. No treadmills, no stupid machines, just squat racks and barbells and some CrossFit gear. At my strongest, I deadlifted 215 while weighing around 126. There were one or two stereotypical dumb beefheads, but most of the members were incredibly informed about nutrition and exercise. My favorite guy looked like just some normal dude, not muscular by any stretch, but he could squat 375. There were no mirrors at the gym, just a trainer who would walk around the mats and offer tips on our form.

And yeah, we dropped heavy things, yelled a lot, sweated all over the benches, encouraged each other to make better gains, and caught the bar when someone had maxed out on a squat. It was an awesome community feeling, especially among the other women who cared about stuff like a better bench press instead of just fitting into a size 2.

Never again will I spend a fruitless two hours on the treadmill and stairmaster, wondering why I'm not really losing pounds, assuming that the barbells at the other side of the room are for men only. Planet Fitness can keep its uninformed customers who come for pizza nights and dismiss weightlifters as chumps. In my experience, it's been the other way around.
posted by slightly sissy tea hound at 9:23 AM on May 9, 2011 [46 favorites]


It is well agreed we should fight against Truvia, as their ads are annoying. And I think as a person who occasionally wears an ironic tee shirt, tries to watch my carb intake, and didn't think Juno was that bad, I feel like I'm being targeted to a degree.

Also, way to promote a culture of guilt about even the tiniest indulgences. I mean, a quarter of a tiny mini-cheesecake is unacceptable?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:25 AM on May 9, 2011


From the article Blasdelb linked: The no-grunt policy is one of several eyebrow-raising rules — no bandannas, no jeans, no banging weights — that managers say are intended to make their target clientele of novice exercisers feel comfortable.

No bandannas? Seriously? Ok, then, you're just asking to have my sweat flung all over your equipment. Your call, idiots. God, I'm glad I'm not a member there!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:25 AM on May 9, 2011


Also, way to promote a culture of guilt about even the tiniest indulgences.

I was at a cocktail bar on Friday and saw someone order vodka on the rocks, "Not well stuff, good vodka like Grey Goose," so she could pour a packet of Crystal Light into it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:27 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're not grunting while you're lifting, you're doin' it wrong.

BANG BANG! POW! BANG BAM BANG!
posted by Mister_A at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a company so concerned about its members being "judged," you would think they could at least spell "judgment" right...
posted by arveale at 9:30 AM on May 9, 2011


I feel like a thing with the Planet Fitness marketing is that they're saying at other gyms, people are "judging" you. Which implies that people think less of you if you are overweight or just starting out, and will wish you wouldn't invade their gym.


I don't know I think there is this weird vibe people just get about being 'judged'. When I was in college I went to the school gym and worked out. I never spent much time thinking about how others viewed me, it was just like a place with a bunch of people working out. When I was talking to other people I heard it described as a "meat market" (despite the fact I rarely talked to anyone I didn't know) and I heard people say they were worried about people juding them. It was really weird. For me I felt like I was in my own little world and so was everything else.

I don't really understand why people worry about what other people are thinking about them when they're essentially anonymous.


Also, from the Wikipedia article:
Planet Fitness also provides its members with free pizza night, every first Monday of the month, and bagel morning, every second Tuesday of the month, as a thank you for their loyalty to the club.
Lol, talk about really wanting to help your members get in shape...
posted by delmoi at 9:34 AM on May 9, 2011


For a company so concerned about its members being "judged," you would think they could at least spell "judgment" right...

That's so weird. For a long time, Crunch used the "No Judgements" slogan too, also spelled like that. Clearly, someone must have focused-grouped those spellings.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:36 AM on May 9, 2011


I was a member of Gold's for a year a long time ago; I wasn't their ideal customer, because I wasn't a bodybuilder, but I did use my membership on a daily basis.

I quickly realized using a Globo-Gym wasn't going to do for me what I wanted. So I started working out at work. I'm a fireman, so we have workout areas at the stations. I also began to realize that eating what I thought was healthy and running 5 miles a day and trying to integrate those Women's/Men's Health lifting workouts is total bullshit, for me. I was gaining weight, and not muscle mass - hello uber-cortisol production and hyper-insulin issues coupled with gluten and dairy sensitivity!

Some of my coworkers pestered me for over a year to join one of our local CrossFit affiliates, which isn't really an accurate description when you look at our programming. I've been working out there for a year and a half, and, next to being a fireman, it's the best decision I've ever made. I'm very strong, have excellent endurance, and am generally a happier person. I could stand to be leaner, but I don't sleep well due to shift work.

Diet is 80%, followed by exercise at 10%, and sleep/stress management at another 10%.

We need to eat properly, move when we can, lift heavy things, sleep, and play. That's what humans are made to do. Taubes, Cordain, Sisson, and Wolf have provided all of this information for free. Diet has corrupted the human body, and so has a standard that seems to vacillate between not enough movement and over-training.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 9:37 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reading this post and thread, I couldn't help but think of this Dylan Moran bit.
posted by torisaur at 9:37 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's so weird. For a long time, Crunch used the "No Judgements" slogan too, also spelled like that. Clearly, someone must have focused-grouped those spellings.

"So, what do you want from your gym membership? What are your fitness goals."
"I want to tone up, improve my aerobic fitness and gain Canadian citizenship."
"Interesting."
(Makes note)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:39 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I know the culture is different in different places, but my local YMCA is the best gym I've ever gone to. They have the free weight room, with the uber-ripped "lunkheads," who to a person are some of the nicest, most considerate, most helpful people I've ever worked out with. (and yes, they include our local fire department.) They have a big cardio / weight machine room, where you'll find people doing their 20 minutes of treadmill walking, as well as people training for Mt. Rainier climbs and Ironman triathlons. They have the "Total Health" room, which has a couple treadmills, a couple ellipticals, a stationary bike and an arm bike, plus some pilates equipment, some small free weights, and some resistance machines; this is where people who are intimidated by the larger rooms can work out, as well as people whose goals are different. (Like the folks who are in stroke rehab, or the Regaining Strength After Chemotherapy group.)

Plus they have nutritional counseling, classes, and 90 minutes of free child care a day. AND rock climbing. AND Family Dinner Nights. AND classes for my kids, including cooking classes, so she learns how to cook and eat healthy food. And they just a couple years ago started doing the HomeZone, which is gym and art classes for homeschooled kids.

I love the Y. The membership is more expensive than Planet Fitness to be sure, but it's worth every penny.
posted by KathrynT at 9:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Really? A gym that gives away pizza and Tootsie Rolls?

And bagels :)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Judgment can be spelled with an extra "e" without fear of offending the official Spelling Gods, but beware of the self-appointed ones, doing all that grunting and intimidating everyone.
posted by raysmj at 9:49 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Judgement is actually one of the words where I prefer the secondary (still accepted, I believe) spelling. Dunno why. Probably discrimination against the "dgm" string.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:58 AM on May 9, 2011


A gym that gives away pizza and Tootsie Rolls?

And bagels :)


Get back to me when it's buffalo wings and beer.
posted by jonmc at 9:58 AM on May 9, 2011


You try doing 20 repetitions of 50 curls (of the lip) without grunting a little.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:59 AM on May 9, 2011


No bandannas? Seriously? Ok, then, you're just asking to have my sweat flung all over your equipment. Your call, idiots. God, I'm glad I'm not a member there!

I've worked out at a Planet Fitness a few times while wearing a bandana. I've never been approached or glared at for it, and am quite sure a lot of the perceived attitude of the gyms themselves is marketing, not practice.
posted by NationalKato at 9:59 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a lot of controversy about nothing. The no-lunkhead thing is a gimmick to try to bring in the 99% of casual users who just want to stay in shape, but aren't interested in body building. Apparently these people are intimidated by huge macho gym warriors.

I go to PF, and it's a fantastic deal: $10/month, brand new facilities, and I rarely have to wait for anything.

NationalKato: I've worked out at a Planet Fitness a few times while wearing a bandana. I've never been approached or glared at for it, and am quite sure a lot of the perceived attitude of the gyms themselves is marketing, not practice.

Yeah, I can't imagine that would cause problems at my PF either. I think the only thing they really do enforce is the no-dropping-weights policy, because it annoys people.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:09 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I go every am at 0600. I love working out around older individuals and others who are there to stay healthy. The few roid cases in the fucked up pantaloons and muscle shirts hog the weight benches and are just generally a pain in the ass. They aren't there to be fit, they're in the gym because they have body dysmorphism as bad as any anorexic. I think the ad campaign is inspired and makes sense.
posted by docpops at 10:10 AM on May 9, 2011


I think the only thing they really do enforce is the no-dropping-weights policy, because it annoys people.

That sounds potentially dangerous. You really don't want someone to fail on a lift and then try to avoid dropping the weight.

Also, my gym has free (usually unhealthy) food on Friday nights. Then again, we also have a bar. I guess it's more of a club than a gym.
posted by ODiV at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2011


I don't understand you people who go to the gym, why go to the gym when you can just scrape a piece of sandpaper on your forearm and watch the blood seep out? I just have to laugh at some of these people I see doing exercises with their breath and sweat and moving, don't they know you can just scrape the layers of skin off your forearm with a piece of coarse sandpaper? You guys must not know about the sandpaper thing, I just have to laugh at you guys who don't know about scraping sandpaper against your skin until you bleed
posted by Greg Nog at 10:15 AM on May 9, 2011 [38 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by gcbv at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2011


I have a really easy solution to the grunting "problem": wear an iPod.
posted by desjardins at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2011


Good idea. iPods are much lighter than weights.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:27 AM on May 9, 2011


Good idea. iPods are much lighter than weights.

They're a lot more expensive pound-for-pound, though, especially once you buy one for each hand!
posted by vorfeed at 10:28 AM on May 9, 2011


You know what guys? Special K doesn't make you lose weight either.
posted by GuyZero at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2011


Seriously! Special K is a dissociative. What you want is crystal meth.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:35 AM on May 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


Men's Health called Planet Fitness "The Worst Gym In America,"

I can't tell if this is a ringing endorsement or brilliant astroturfing.
posted by almostmanda at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


As for the whole "lunk alarm" and such, I think that varies widely by location.

Definitely. The one I go to ($100 a year!) used to some other chain and just converted all the memberships, so it's got some pretty serious lifters mixed in with the people who never go.

I've never heard the lunk alarm go off, but OTOH, people don't really scream or drop weights. Which is nice, to be honest.
posted by smackfu at 10:44 AM on May 9, 2011


And I don't really see how it can be the worst gym by any measure: it has working machines, enough dumbbells, plenty of cardio stuff, and a clean bathroom.
posted by smackfu at 10:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually wonder if weightlifting gyms could be run as co-ops, since the equipment you need is so minimal. It would take away some of the messed up financial incentives, like the ones that lead chain gyms to stuff the floor with the latest 5,000 assisted-weight contraptions that work your muscles one individual oblique at a time.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a really easy solution to the grunting "problem": wear an iPod.

But will that still allow me to hate on people that are in better shape than me?
posted by LordSludge at 10:55 AM on May 9, 2011


"Judgment" is best spelled without the "e", which is the educational equivalent of lazy fat.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:55 AM on May 9, 2011


I actually wonder if weightlifting gyms could be run as co-ops, since the equipment you need is so minimal.

I've considered this too, because my wonderful weightlifting gym was also insanely expensive (for me) at $175/month. I have no idea why they'd need to charge that much person given how they had no expensive cardio machines to keep fixing and updating.
posted by slightly sissy tea hound at 10:58 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slight tangent, but are there any pay-per-use gyms, or pay-per-hour gyms?

I wonder what the rate would be... probably higher than you would accept, since all those people who don't go the gym are subsidizing those who do.
posted by smackfu at 10:59 AM on May 9, 2011


He said that the number of members exceeds the number of equipment-minutes available per week.

Dimensional analysis is why it makes no sense!

You could also say that the number of meters this object moves in a second exceeds the number of grams it weighs, but you couldn't express that as "(x1-x0)/t > m".
posted by kenko at 11:00 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I heard recently that Tacomas are popular with Talibani fighters to the point that they're regularly showing up with tatoos of the Toyota logo.

Surely there must an ad team deep in a passkey controlled basement situation room somewhere pulling all-nighters trying to figure out ways to get that into an ad campaign somehow.
posted by jamjam at 11:10 AM on May 9, 2011


I know I'm supposed to be disgusted, or something, but if Mr. Bunny Ears worked out at my gym I would be there EVERY DAY, and I'd probably leave a trail from the lockerroom to my car made out of bunny peeps.
posted by zylocomotion at 11:20 AM on May 9, 2011


Man, I found that BAM POW filling out paperwork one really funny.
posted by Maaik at 11:20 AM on May 9, 2011


There is working out hard and there is working hard at putting on a show. Almost all gyms I've been at don't allow you to drop weights, for good reason, its just not safe. I had a guy next to me maybe a week ago, dropping his weights and a 45lb disc ran over the tip of my sneaker, if I hadn't been paying attention and it had hit my ankle instead it could have been a bit uglier. Don't drop your weights, jerkoffs.
posted by stormygrey at 11:23 AM on May 9, 2011


I actually wonder if weightlifting gyms could be run as co-ops, since the equipment you need is so minimal.

Rent and/or real estate won't be minimal. You need the gym to be sufficiently large to allow for exercise, yet sufficiently convenient for people to want to use it without trekking too far from work and home. That puts you into the "big retail" strike zone where commercial rent is highest.

Moreover, I'm trying to imagine a gym co-op. Your big costs will be right upfront (equipment and real estate), the product is not returnable and revenue is long term. It's not a co-op like REI, where you can buy a bunch of clothes and gear wholesale, and return it if it doesn't sell. No, you're going to open the gym, spend lots of money and hope someone buys into your idea by spending X per month for a long time. That's risky as fuck all.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I get the complaints about grunting/dropping weights, but what's wrong with the big jug of water again?
posted by stenseng at 11:28 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That "Bunny Ears" guy was in a Halls commercial too, wasn't he? He's actually pretty funny.
posted by Mister_A at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2011


kenko : Dimensional analysis is why it makes no sense! You could also say that the number of meters this object moves in a second exceeds the number of grams it weighs, but you couldn't express that as "(x1-x0)/t > m".

Good example, but I still have to disagree. In isolation, your inequality doesn't seem all that sensible. As a description of the applicable thrust to mass ratio, setting a lower limit (for example, "escape velocity") on m/s, it gives you basically the central equation of rocket science.

Similarly, jefficator's) equation doesn't really make sense in isolation. In response to the question of "why would PF want to minimize customer participation", however, it answers that question perfectly.

His original phrasing, I will grant, read a bit awkwardly, but the intent seems entirely clear.
posted by pla at 11:36 AM on May 9, 2011


I actually wonder if weightlifting gyms could be run as co-ops, since the equipment you need is so minimal.

There are a few of them out there (in America) but the ones I've seen are usually word of mouth because, ya'know, it's usually "here's a key, clean and lock up when your done and remember to pay your monthly fee because we like to pay the rent and keep this going" type of thing.

There are couple of things happening at large chain gyms that drive the business plan. One of them of course is what a lot of people have already pointed out about the "more people less usage" idea, but one of the others revolves around the 5,000 Nautawhatever machines that fill up the gym. So, from the business vantage point, machines make much more sense though. They have lower maintenance, safer, easier to use, take up less space, and more people can use them per hour than freeweight setups. One thing I've noticed is that most gyms don't abide by the regulations dictating how much space is safely required around the machines. Most big gyms I've seen usually stack them almost on top of each other without much thought to the space requirements, but I guess whoever is supposed to be checking on those little regulations don't usually get around to them.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:37 AM on May 9, 2011


So I get the complaints about grunting/dropping weights, but what's wrong with the big jug of water again?

IDK. Maybe reinforces the gluttonous perception surrounding the MOAR MUSCULLS! idea?
posted by P.o.B. at 11:40 AM on May 9, 2011


His original phrasing, I will grant, read a bit awkwardly, but the intent seems entirely clear.

Well, that's true, but if I let stuff like that prevent me from being a smartass my life will be even emptier than it already is.
posted by kenko at 11:44 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love my county rec center gym. Sure, the machines aren't state-of-the-art and it's small and utilitarian. But I pay only when I go, there's no single's bar or fashion show crowd, and I'm often the youngest person there. (Although not nearly the most fit...) Every now and then a real powerlifter type comes in, but they never seem to come back. I always figured it was the lack of people who wanted to watch them.

Oh, and the best part: no TVs!
posted by JoanArkham at 11:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I was the one complaining about the gallon water jugs)

First, these guys fill the jug at the one drinking fountain in the whole gym. Even filling a gallon jug halfway takes a stupid long time at a drinking fountain. Second, I've seen these guys with the huge water containers mix their repellent "sports drinks" in these containers at the fountain, sloshing some of the milky crap into the basin and leaving a nasty chemical flavor-smell. Third, who the hell needs a gallon of water at a time? Asshole narcissist gym rats, that's who.

I will say that after reading through this thread, I am appreciating the gym I go to more and maore. I go to a fairly large chain gym in downtown Chicago, nd while I've seen some obnoxious behavior, for the most part it's a relaxed place where people keep to themselves, no one's intimidating anyone else, and there's some fairly hardcore lifters who don't usually drop anything or make a lot of noise. But as mentioned above, there is literally one double drinking fountain in the WHOLE GYM, which encorages people to buy overpriced bottled smart water at the juice bar, I guess.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:48 AM on May 9, 2011


Count me among the weight-dropping-haters: either exhibit some fucking control or pick a lower weight. People who drop their weights also tend to be the idiots that only go halfway through their range of motion.

That said, nothing in my mind is worse than people that use the other half of the cable machine while you're on it. Yes, I know there are two sides to a cable machine, that doesn't fucking matter. Wait your damned turn.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:50 AM on May 9, 2011


I actually wonder if weightlifting gyms could be run as co-ops, since the equipment you need is so minimal.

Two problems: space is expensive, not equipment. Especially if you want space near where lots of people work (i.e. near the CBD).

The second is that most of the time it's idle. Most people will be wanting to work out before work, lunchtime, immediately after work, if every gym I've ever been in is any indication, so you'll need to buy space and equipment for peak flows that lies idle most of the rest of the time.

As for the line of commentary, I'm finding it hilarious reading MeFites whining about not wanting to be judged while using consistently derogatory language about anyone who wants to lift anything heavier than a shopping bag.
posted by rodgerd at 11:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my idea was more along the lines of what P.o.B. is suggesting... find a few local friends and split the costs of rent and equipment (most cityfolk I know don't have basements/garages, hence the reason for an external space). Anyone extra that came along and wanted to buy in would be a bonus.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:51 AM on May 9, 2011


"The few roid cases in the fucked up pantaloons and muscle shirts hog the weight benches and are just generally a pain in the ass. They aren't there to be fit, they're in the gym because they have body dysmorphism as bad as any anorexic. I think the ad campaign is inspired and makes sense."

Well, so long as we're not judging anybody
posted by Blasdelb at 11:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


That said, nothing in my mind is worse than people that use the other half of the cable machine while you're on it. Yes, I know there are two sides to a cable machine, that doesn't fucking matter. Wait your damned turn.

Sure there is. The people who put the weights back in the wrong slots. They're even worse than the wankers who leave them lying on the floor; it's the gym equivalent of leaving a note on the car you just dinged saying "These people think I'm leaving my details".

If you're strong enough to lift the weights, you're strong enough to put them back in the right place for the next person.
posted by rodgerd at 11:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I get the complaints about grunting/dropping weights, but what's wrong with the big jug of water again?

I used to be a fairly intense workout guy and I never cared about the big muscle/roid guys assuming they weren't mixing potions and dumping the excess contents in the water fountain.

Most of the hardcore body-builders really aren't bad people in my experience but they often have something weird about their personalities (they aren't math, news, science or politics nerds.. these are gym nerds). They're usually quite friendly and accomodating, maybe not so approachable looking.

Generally these guys are focused on their own thing, or what their workout group is doing. I never saw much judging going on, and most of the people who offerred unprompted advice were the type who had decided to start working out within the last few weeks and were finished in ninety days.

Most gyms don't allow loud grunting, and I have never seen one that allowed patrons to drop weights. I've also never seen one that enforced the "modest dress" rule...
posted by Deep Dish at 11:55 AM on May 9, 2011


I'm a PF member. I think they overcook this idea in their advertising, myself, because trust me there are a lot of serious members who come in and work out daily and who are highly toned, bulked up, etc. (My location was started under PF, so we don't have any "legacy" members from another gym franchise. The lunk alarm goes off maybe once a month or less that I see, and I spend about 45 minutes a day there on the floor.

I don't get the headwear thing, either, but for the most part the other rules are common sense. "Grunting" a little during weightlifting is pretty much unavoidable, but the people (and anyone who's ever been to a gym has seen and heard them) who make loud noises like they're either having an orgasm, in labor, or dying are the ones they're after with this, and I for one don't like hearing it.

The old "encourage people to join who won't use it" idea is certainly cynical, and most cynical ideas have some truth to them, but I think another major rationale for this marketing angle is that for every hardcore athletic person, there are 10+ people who aren't exactly happy about how they look and who avoid gyms because they feel they'll be looked down on. This is what I think they mean by "the judgement-free zone." Although it does lead to an odd in-house promo that plays on their sound system sometimes "at Planet Fitness if we see anyone doing (X,Y, & Z), we'll sound off the lunk alarm, because Planet Fitness is a judgement-free zone!" WTF?
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:56 AM on May 9, 2011


I am extremely "conservative" at the gym, and keep to myself, prefer quiet, prefer others keep to themselves and stay quiet, etc. But the idea of a Lunk Alarm policing people is so obnoxious to me that I'm having a hard time expressing how I feel about it.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:01 PM on May 9, 2011


Just caught the bit about judgment. People, do not ever go to a ballet class. Standing in a brightly-lit studio with no shadows anywhere, 12-foot high mirrors and wearing tight clothes will likely shatter your psyche.

I am just warning you...if you're so self-conscious you think other people in a gym are staring at you instead of working, you should never, ever take ballet. You will be terrified, although it will inspire a level of confidence in you that you never thought possible.
posted by FunkyStar at 12:08 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless you're a lunk!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:13 PM on May 9, 2011


The "lunk alarm" is kind of an annoying tactic, but I'm much more offended by commercials and their "ha ha, this kind of person is totally stupid! Let's all laugh at them!" thing. Ugh.
posted by koeselitz at 12:14 PM on May 9, 2011


What happens when the lunk alarm goes off? Do people point and laugh at a big person with a heavy weight?
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 12:16 PM on May 9, 2011


Has anyone ever been in a Planet Fitness when the lunk alarm goes off? Maybe I'm being overly charitable here, but I highly doubt it's used to humiliate people. Seems more like something that would be used in a jokey, backhanded-compliment-ey sort of way.

I'm intrigued by the no trainers thing. I wish I didn't feel like I need to avoid talking to trainers at the gym, for fear they'll try to sell me on sessions. I think it would be cool if there were trainers who just made a straight salary, who'd answer questions for anyone. I know they do that anyway, but in my experience, it's a lopsided interaction.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:23 PM on May 9, 2011


Also about the cheapness, this from youtube comments:

"Yeah $10 a month
AND
a $29 sign up fee
AND
a $29 yearly maitnence fee thats prorated and applied the day you sign up.
AND
$20 for a guest to come
AND
an additional $5 everytime you work out at a planet fitness other than the one you signed up at.
So what do you have to lose guys!
"
posted by Blasdelb at 12:25 PM on May 9, 2011


Is this the thread where we air our gym related grievances? I go to one of those 24 hour GloboGyms. I see my fair share of gym faux pas, the worst of which, I must say, are not committed by members, but by the personal "trainers" that work there (though there is a special place in hell reserved for people who do bicep curls in squat racks). Besides walking around like they own the place and seemingly choosing to stand in spots guaranteed to be in someone else's way, they come up with the most ridiculous, useless, borderline-dangerous exercises to teach to people who are clearly beginners. So, as much as I find Planet Fitness distastefulness, I do agree with their stance on personal trainers.
posted by AceRock at 12:27 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also about the cheapness, this from youtube comments:

If that sounds expensive to you, you've never joined a gym.

And you can pay $20 a month if you want to avoid the guest and other gym fees.
posted by smackfu at 12:29 PM on May 9, 2011


Seconding the love for community rec centers (which is where I go). Of course, mine is currently having some repair issues (such as the 2 ellipticals both being out of service grumble grumble), but there's no shitfuckery with contracts of personal trainers. People come, do their thing, and leave. Sometimes you'll get a little wave from one of the 'silver sneakers' group (55+, used to get to work out for free but now has to pay $55/year) because they are there all the time and are friendly if you want to be, but are perfectly willing to leave you alone too.

(As a county resident, it costs $180/year but that's unlimited use and you get to use the basketball courts and everything. It's also much cheaper than any of the local gyms. Plus, it shares a parking lot with the public library! Win!)
posted by sperose at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2011


I had no idea that grunting, free weights, sweat, water bottles, shared exercise equipment, or bandanas bothered people. Thank god we have the internet, or I might never have found out!
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:45 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Commercials for Danish health club chain Fitness.dk:
"This is Casper." "This is Mads." After they started exercising at Fitness.dk, they became a little bit too handsome. So how do they get an occasional break from the new attention?
posted by iviken at 12:46 PM on May 9, 2011


Something I always notice in these threads....

People have this funny hangup about really any level of bodybuilding that is pretty lol to behold.
It's a bit born of insecurity and I used to be guilty of it myself.

What Im talking about specifically is the people who think going to the gym is OK "because its good to stay healthy" but that believe you cannot do any amount of serious lifting without adopting fully into Lunkhead Culture. The same people are usually the ones that truly believe they will become Hans or Frans, your pic) if they ever lift anything heavier than an aerobic weight. Which of course is silly. Ive been lifting heavier and heavier for 3 years straight and I am not at all mistakable for an adonis.

To each his own and all that, but its such silly sniping about priorities and it really seems to come from a place of insecurity.
You wanna walk on a treadmill for a half an hour over lunch and feel like that's some sort of cornerstone of healthy living, you go right ahead. But dont cast aspersions on those of us that want a bit more out of our bodies than you do.
My trying to bench more and more weight doesnt make me a meathead any more than you not getting off the stairmaster makes you a Rhodes Scholar.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:05 PM on May 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Fizz: "It's situations like this that led me to the cheapest gym in the world: the road. I've been running for 6 months now and I've lost 30 lbs. Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power."

And, ummmmm, joints that actually allow you to run?

Sorry to harsh your road buzz, bud, but it's not just shoes and willpower.
posted by Samizdata at 1:33 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


First, these guys fill the jug at the one drinking fountain in the whole gym. Even filling a gallon jug halfway takes a stupid long time at a drinking fountain. Second, I've seen these guys with the huge water containers mix their repellent "sports drinks" in these containers at the fountain, sloshing some of the milky crap into the basin and leaving a nasty chemical flavor-smell. Third, who the hell needs a gallon of water at a time? Asshole narcissist gym rats, that's who.

I drink about 1-1.5 liters of water every half hour when I'm working out at high intensity. Partly because I'm a Type I diabetic and frequently dehydrated before I start. I'm not into mixing stuff into my 1.5L water bottle or hogging the only fountain though. I've noticed that you don't even have to have a water bottle to hog the fountain.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2011


I went to Planet Fitness a few times a week from 2008 through 2010. It's a fantastic deal, as others have mentioned. I never heard the lunk alarm go off and I'm not confident that I even really knew it existed before I read this thread. Sensible people everywhere agree that dropping weights and orgasm-grunting are to be avoided.

I now pay more than five times as much every month for my local YMCA (in a different, more expensive city). It's fine. If there were a convenient Planet Fitness, I would join it immediately.
posted by Kwine at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2011


And then there's the Anti-Gym (caution: autostarting video/audio and maximum douchebaggery). I don't know if he's in business anymore (a google search shows the IRS shut down his Denver outlet in 2009 and the San Diego and Los Angeles locations are listed as "coming soon") and it has been years since I've heard terrible ads on the radio. TV ad in Denver: Beer Goggles. At least when he was in business he'd get good Yelp reviews because some people like to be yelled at and called a fat-ass. But his methods are a little strange:
And since none of us are perfect angels, Anti-Gym is the only organization in history that does not discourage alcohol and marijuana use as part of a healthy lifestyle
Makes the kinds of gyms that Planet Fitness is making fun of look like the most approachable gym in the world. I would rather have a gym full of grunting lunkheads than a gym full of Jersey Shore cast members.
posted by birdherder at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2011


That Beer Goggles commercial is incredibly messed up. That is the sort of gym owner I'd never give my money to.
posted by Kitteh at 1:52 PM on May 9, 2011


I lift things up, but they put me down.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:53 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I used to work out with my friend who is a personal trainer. We would just take a few pieces of equipment and go down to the beach, but my friend also works as a trainer at a gym. I wish I could still afford to go to him, if only for the stories about his clients at the gym.

The best one was about the overweight lady who claimed to be a bodyguard for celebrities and also some kind of werewolf. Oh and the militant black-power guy who bottled his own wine and preached conspiracy theories about Mars, I think.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:55 PM on May 9, 2011


Many of those Jane's and Joe's are intimidated by grunting and 50-lb dumbbells.

Slate article, did I read this sentence correctly? Did you really say "50-lb"? Fifty, as in the number five followed by a zero? Really? People are intimidated by fifty pounds? This, in a world in which foot soldiers in the US Army are expected to shoulder a 90 lb pack in combat zones and hump it for ten or more miles?

A large number of gym members, be they Janes or Joes or people known by a different moniker, have a naive view about weight lifting, and the actual effort entailed to progress thereby. They come in in January, and, when you see them a year later, they look identical to their previous musculature and body weight. Part of the problem stems from employing a PT who, as Planet Fitness points out, is an expensive friend rather than an unforgiving asshole (during the workout, of course) bent on working them into a full-on lather with challenging weights. Planet Fitness is right in calling these PTs to task, for the vast majority that I've seen prefer to engage their charges in low-energy, high-boredom routines that take the "work" out of "workout." True, they teach you a few things about operating the machines and lifting with proper form. But this knowledge can be gleaned by asking questions to the gym personel--or Googling, for God's sake. Unless you enjoy listening to the PT's stream-of-conscious monologue about his grief over selecting tiles for an upcoming bathroom renovation, it's a waste of $50.

The sad reality is that "lifting to failure" isn't an empty mantra, it's the only way to progress in lifting, even if the goal is simply a trimmed, toned body with moderate muscle gain. Whether your workout involves the cardio machines, the treadmill, or the dumbbells in the free-weight room, a moderate amount of heavy breathing, perspiration, and--dare I say it?--pain is a necessary condition for progress, however you wish to define the word. A leisurely stroll on the 'mill won't crack it, nor will humping weights considerably less than 50-lbs.
posted by Gordion Knott at 1:56 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


robocop is bleeding, as obnoxious as that particular Tacoma commercial is, this one gives it a run for its money.

As for the PF commercials: yeah, kind of over the top. It is kind of irritating to share space with someone who sounds like he's shitting out a toaster oven with every rep, can't spend five seconds to towel off the bench, drops dumbbells and leaves them there, &c., but I doubt that PF has mastered the art of asshole-proofing their establishments.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:56 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like my independent gym in Toronto- it's a bit run down, nothing is top of the line, and its location used to be a shitty nightclub (where I would occasionally score drugs). However, it's got a nice mix of people with different fitness goals, and while it does have a few douchebags, they are by no means limited to the power lifting crowd (although I agree about the weight dropping- if you're failing that much, you should probably have a spotter). In general, though, the people there are pretty nice.

My one quibble is: ENOUGH WITH THE DAMN HOUSE MUSIC! I CAN HEAR IT THROUGH MY IPOD! WHY DO I NEED HOUSE MUSIC TO LIFT WEIGHTS? IT'S NOT EVEN VERY GOOD HOUSE MUSIC!

I'm sorry, it's just getting on my nerves a bit.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:06 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


People are intimidated by fifty pounds? This, in a world in which foot soldiers in the US Army are expected to shoulder a 90 lb pack in combat zones and hump it for ten or more miles?

Umm, I can carry a 90 lb pack no problem but I can't curl a 50 lb dumbbell.
posted by smackfu at 2:19 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regardless of what you think of weightlifting, those are pretty derogatory commercials. I wouldn't associate with any organization that ran advertising like that.

Support life affirming things.
posted by unixrat at 2:39 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm still annoyed that they named a damn truck after the town where I lived for 10 years. (Also: birthplace of Bing Crosby!)
posted by epersonae at 2:46 PM on May 9, 2011


I've worked out any loads of different gyms, and I prefer gyms where there are at least a few "lunkheads". There have been plenty of times when a "lunkhead" has helped me out in the early days, when I first started trying to get into shape, either by showing me what I was doing wrong, or by showing me how to do something when I asked what he was doing. The ones that I've encountered don't seem to judge. But hey, they look intimidating, so let's pretend they're arseholes to make ourselves feel better.
posted by ob at 2:55 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe some knowledgeable person in this thread and tell me why house music is so essential to weight-lifting because I'm curious about that too.
posted by fuq at 3:15 PM on May 9, 2011


WHY DO I NEED HOUSE MUSIC TO LIFT WEIGHTS? IT'S NOT EVEN VERY GOOD HOUSE MUSIC!

My iPod is broken (I set a dumbbell down on it; somebody pull the Lunk Alarm); not half an hour ago I heard a house remix of "We R Who We R" at the gym. There is no need for such a thing.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:34 PM on May 9, 2011


My gym often has the local radio station playing. I happen to work out in the morning at the exact same time they have people calling in to sing happy birthday.

It is excruciating.
posted by ODiV at 3:37 PM on May 9, 2011


not half an hour ago I heard a house remix of "We R Who We R" at the gym.

That's nothing- I have been hearing this repeatedly over the past couple of months. Who listens to Timbaland and says to themselves "this could use some bandsaw"?

I do like the Bam Pow guy, though.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:54 PM on May 9, 2011


This, in a world in which foot soldiers in the US Army are expected to shoulder a 90 lb pack in combat zones and hump it for ten or more miles?

Come off it. The modern MOLLE system is a rather elegantly designed load-bearing pack. When a soldier carries 90 pounds of gear, he or she isn't just dropping two 45-pound plates into a bookbag and running up a hill.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:56 PM on May 9, 2011


Maybe some knowledgeable person in this thread and tell me why house music is so essential to weight-lifting because I'm curious about that too.

Both weightlifting and house music is about pumping things up.
posted by iviken at 4:12 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bally's appears to have their own music television channel. I suspect there is some pay to play involved for crappy alterna-pop bands. Because that's what they almost always play on a rotation so heavy that it's baked into the brains of the employees who work there.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:28 PM on May 9, 2011


Metafilter - ha ha, this kind of person is totally stupid! Let's all laugh at them!
posted by joannemullen at 6:31 PM on May 9, 2011


The sad reality is that "lifting to failure" isn't an empty mantra, it's the only way to progress in lifting, even if the goal is simply a trimmed, toned body with moderate muscle gain.

That's nonsense. You can totally progress with weights without lifting to failure, and likewise for aerobic fitness.

Sidenote: Metafilter - ha ha, this kind of person is totally stupid! Let's all laugh at them!

Joanne, I confess that I'm confused as to why you signed up to Mefi; you don't seem to like the majority of users or posts. It's kind of weird. You should do something constructive like weightlifting instead of lambasting the mefites in your head.
posted by smoke at 6:59 PM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not too long ago I found out I was intimidated by the gym. I found this out by buying a membership and then not using it for a good while, and then coming to the point where I was sitting outside the building in my car one morning when I not only had the usual motivations to step inside but also had not had a good hot shower -- a luxury freely available to me if I but walked through the door -- for a few days because I'd been sleeping in my car. But there I was, still hesitating. Had to admit it to myself, I was intimidated by something, and it probably was partly a fear of being judged on my unfit appearance and not knowing exactly how to use the equipment.

It will probably surprise no one that once I actually had been a few times, it was apparent this was an unfounded fear. But it's kindof funny to look back and realize what was going on, and I wouldn't discount the potential fears of would-be customers at all.

Of course, they should probably find a better way to manage that besides stereotyping body builders.
posted by weston at 7:25 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My gym is a squarely classic rock kind of place, often at the kind of volume that precludes iPods. But they don't do much monitoring of the tempo or anything. I can't count the number of times I've been totally thrown off my game when "With Or Without You" came on. There is a time and a place for a misty-eyed Bono ballad, and that time and place is drunk in front of your computer Facebook-stalking your ex, not struggling to lift a heavy thing or striding purposefully on the elliptical. It's enough to make me long for some generic house jamz.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:33 PM on May 9, 2011


This is why I like to go to the gym at like 2pm on a Wednesday. Nothing but Wives and Retirees so the music is a mix of uptempo 80s pop and hippie rock.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 PM on May 9, 2011


I got in trouble for making a metallic clang when I was using the Smith machine. So yeah. Planet Fitness: sticking up for normal people.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:47 AM on May 10, 2011


I'm a member of Planet Fitness and love it. But I also know it will only serve my purposes only so far.

I'm there everyday after work (early mornings for me as I work overnights) and 80% are the same regular folks. It's the equivalent of the local coffee shop. I'm both inspired and comforted by the lack of intimidation.

The only time the Lunk Alarm has gone off is once when the staff was goofing (friendly banter) with a serious lifter. He had just lifted his all time high and was helping another member by moving a 10lb weight. He kinda clanged it and they hit the alarm in jest. It was all good.

I anticipate leaving PF in 2012 to start working out at the local CrossFit gym.
posted by tar0tgr1 at 5:14 AM on May 10, 2011


nothing gets the endorphins flowing like lifting heavy things.

And putting them down, of course.

ducks
posted by Deathalicious at 6:47 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're correct. If you're not putting them down then you might as well not pick them up in the first place.
posted by vbfg at 8:37 AM on May 10, 2011


The sad reality is that "lifting to failure" isn't an empty mantra, it's the only way to progress in lifting, even if the goal is simply a trimmed, toned body with moderate muscle gain.

>That's nonsense. You can totally progress with weights without lifting to failure, and likewise for aerobic fitness.

"Lifting to failure" can refer to anything between an explosive, forceful push on the last rep, to a "cheat rep," to a sensation of muscle fatigue implying that the final rep will end in failure. If your level of perceptible fatigue in a muscle or muscle group is, at the end of a set--whether it consists of 7, or 10, or 20 reps--identical to what it was in the beginning, you're doing it wrong. You're not lifting weights: You're moving a stationary body a fixed distance in space (as you would when returning a dropped cellphone to a desk).

Aerobic fitness is a different story. Nobody "lifts to failure" in aerobic fitness; the concept is meaningless here. (Yes, people collapse at the finish line of marathons, but this isn't "lifting to failure.")
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:57 AM on May 10, 2011


The sad reality is that "lifting to failure" isn't an empty mantra, it's the only way to progress in lifting, even if the goal is simply a trimmed, toned body with moderate muscle gain. Whether your workout involves the cardio machines, the treadmill, or the dumbbells in the free-weight room, a moderate amount of heavy breathing, perspiration, and--dare I say it?--pain is a necessary condition for progress, however you wish to define the word. A leisurely stroll on the 'mill won't crack it, nor will humping weights considerably less than 50-lbs.

I can comfortably lift 50 lbs with my entire body. I'm not sure what my ultimate limit is, but I can definitely lift that much weight and more. As I understand it, with a dumbbell, you pick it up with one arm and you lift it with pretty much just your biceps or triceps (depending on how you are moving the weight). That's if you're doing the motion correctly.

I can do about 3 reps of 15 lb dumbbells. I can lift a 20 lb dumbbell once, maybe twice, and only with my dominant arm.

A 50 lb dumbbell would probably rip my arm off, assuming I could lift it from the rack.

Also, and this is what has really hampered any progress I might make in weightlifting: every time I lift weights and put in a real effort, on the 3rd day (not the second day, oddly) my whole body aches and hurts so much that I basically can't lift anything at all. Forget 50 lbs, how about lifting my stupid backpack (and not a 90 lb backpack at that)? And the expectation is that I do this 3 times a week? So I guess the idea is I am supposed to be in crippling pain for the entirety of my existence, and for what purpose, exactly?

So, now I don't work out, although I walk a fair amount. If I ever did work out again, it might just be an exercise regime where, horror of horrors, I simply kept my current body shape, more or less, until the day I day without gaining a lb of muscle. Frankly, I don't see a problem with that. And I'm pretty sure it won't involve 50 lb dumbbells.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:34 AM on May 10, 2011


Also, and this is what has really hampered any progress I might make in weightlifting: every time I lift weights and put in a real effort, on the 3rd day (not the second day, oddly) my whole body aches and hurts so much that I basically can't lift anything at all. Forget 50 lbs, how about lifting my stupid backpack (and not a 90 lb backpack at that)? And the expectation is that I do this 3 times a week? So I guess the idea is I am supposed to be in crippling pain for the entirety of my existence, and for what purpose, exactly?


Er no. That's temporary. When you are starting out, or you haven't worked out in a while yes your body will ache. Once you go back after the pain subsides and stick to it there wont be the pain anymore.

What you decide to do (or not do) with your exercise is up to you, but it sorta sounds like you are making excuses there.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:42 AM on May 10, 2011


Deathalicious: Also, and this is what has really hampered any progress I might make in weightlifting: every time I lift weights and put in a real effort, on the 3rd day (not the second day, oddly) my whole body aches and hurts so much that I basically can't lift anything at all. Forget 50 lbs, how about lifting my stupid backpack (and not a 90 lb backpack at that)? And the expectation is that I do this 3 times a week? So I guess the idea is I am supposed to be in crippling pain for the entirety of my existence, and for what purpose, exactly?

Well, no, it's not supposed to be like that at all. I'd guess you are almost certainly overtraining that first day, working out far too hard for your body to handle and suffering for it later. You probably need to start out a lot easier and work into that kind of intensity.

An appropriate level of exercise should leave you feeling better all of the time than you'd feel otherwise, not worse. There is always a little residual soreness, but it is generally canceled out by a greater feeling of health and alertness. If it makes you miserable all of the time either you are doing it wrong or there's some interfering medical issue you should consider having looked at.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:45 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Deathalicious: That's DOMS (sweet, sweet DOMS) and yeah, it's just temporary. Every time I restart my lifting I get that the first workout or two, but it subsides very quickly after that.
posted by ODiV at 9:50 AM on May 10, 2011


If your level of perceptible fatigue in a muscle or muscle group is, at the end of a set

Yeah, but progressive resistance isn't always about "lifting to failure". I'm not sure if you're trying to make some kind of dichotomous statement between "always getting stronger" and "maintaining a modicum of strength and health" but those things shouldn't exist on opposite ends of the spectrum. Not to mention the former isn't necessarily "healthier" than the latter.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:01 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, no, it's not supposed to be like that at all. I'd guess you are almost certainly overtraining that first day, working out far too hard for your body to handle and suffering for it later. You probably need to start out a lot easier and work into that kind of intensity.

This.

Muscles develop faster than tendons do, and they both develop much faster than bones. Increasing resistance is what causes the body to grow stronger. Increasing the resistance as fast as the muslces can developp, but faster than the joints and bones are able to keep up, with is what causes overtraining injuries. Some basic process that causes running injuries.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:18 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


every time I lift weights and put in a real effort, on the 3rd day (not the second day, oddly) my whole body aches and hurts so much that I basically can't lift anything at all.
I just started lifting. The first time I did it, I could barely move for a week. I waited for a week, until I could move again, and did it again. I wasn't nearly as sore the second time, and after a couple of weeks, I'm just pleasantly sore after every workout. So yeah: super temporary.
posted by craichead at 11:19 AM on May 10, 2011


I can do about 3 reps of 15 lb dumbbells. I can lift a 20 lb dumbbell once, maybe twice, and only with my dominant arm.

A 50 lb dumbbell would probably rip my arm off, assuming I could lift it from the rack.

Also, and this is what has really hampered any progress I might make in weightlifting: every time I lift weights and put in a real effort, on the 3rd day (not the second day, oddly) my whole body aches and hurts so much that I basically can't lift anything at all. And the expectation is that I do this 3 times a week?


As others have said, the really-really-painful DOMS thing is normal when you start working out after some time off -- if you keep at it, it'll go away after a week or two.

That said, if you want to minimize it you should be starting really light... as in much lighter than you think you can. If you can do just 3 reps of 15 lb dumbbells, then you probably shouldn't be starting with 15s -- start with 8s and shoot for 3 sets of 5 reps to start. Then work up to 3 sets of 8; when you can do those with good form, you can move up to doing 3 sets of 5 with the 12 lb dumbbells. Wash, rinse, repeat. You can get more aggressive once your body has adjusted to lifting, but at first it's just counter-productive. Whenever I get back from a break I usually decrease the weight to a comfortable level and work back up from there... better that than skipping workouts because I'm so wrecked!
posted by vorfeed at 11:29 AM on May 10, 2011


FizzPoster: "Why pay a monthly fee when all you really need is a good pair of shoes and some will power"

Because the road doesn't have babysitting, a pool, T-ball, swim classes, WiFi so I can watch Downton Abbey while exercising, a downtown branch so Mr Corpse can take a shower after running to work, rooms for the kids to play in that are so fun that we've had birthday parties there, ballet classes, coaches if I have questions, a climbing wall, rowing machines, water fountains, shelter from the rain, shelter from the sun, shelter from the cars...
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:35 AM on May 10, 2011


OK, I understand Planet Fitness does not have regular free weights. But it sounds like the sort of place that would have shake weights.
posted by exogenous at 11:58 AM on May 10, 2011


"Lifting to failure" can refer to anything

That's certainly the first time I've ever heard of it referring to anything other than, you know, failing to lift on your last rep.
posted by smoke at 4:09 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


« Older Inspired by Andrew Sullivan's recent post on views...  |  Honoring cinema's finest sandw... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments