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Planet Fitness Nightmare 2.0

A couple of years ago I wrote an article entitled “The Planet Fitness Nightmare”.  I was very thankful when this piece was posted on T-Nation.  It ended up being quite popular and evoked some rather spirited commentary.

https://www.t-nation.com/opinion/planet-fitness-nightmare

It seems like only yesterday that I was hiding under my bed, curled up in the fetal position with my hands over my ears screaming “PLEASE!  MAKE IT STOP!”  I just couldn’t understand all of the angry comments I read from so many people I had never met.  Many of those folks were deeply offended by the notion that Planet Fitness should be so critically scrutinized.  Then it hit me, “Wait a minute, there were just as many if not more folks who strongly agreed with that article.”  So, I slid out from under the bed, dusted off the hairballs (got to clean under there – at least every 5 years!) and went about writing this response to the other folks who were so upset – even though it seems many did not bother to read the first article.

Here are some commonly accepted definitions of the word “Fitness”:

  1.  Health.
  1.  Capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort.

(Dictionary.com)

  • The state or condition of being physically sound and healthy, especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition.
  • A state of general mental and physical well-being.

(The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary)

Now, please take into consideration the second word in the name “Planet Fitness”.  So, one can only assume that the average person is joining a Planet Fitness to become, well…FIT!  Now this premise summarizes the point of that original article.  That is, the chasm-sized difference between Planet Fitness ideas and methods which its members are mostly compelled to follow and the most scientifically proven methods and ideas on how to successfully get into an exceptional state of “fitness”.

That article would never have been written if the name of this company was “Planet Fun” or, perhaps “Planet Recreation”.  At such a place activities available could also include:  bowling, checkers, badminton, video games, chess, and perhaps ping-pong.  Hell, I might join myself.  I like recreation centers!  I just wouldn’t go to one for help with serious health, body weight, or “fitness” issues.

To me, it is also irresponsibly cute and coy that one of the Planet Fitness taglines is “We’re not a gym!”, as though this one-line caveat exempts them from the inherent responsibility any gym should take in somehow helping its members achieve the goals for which they joined.  Strangest thing, when you walk into Planet Fitness it sure as hell looks just like a gym!

The original article was not written for the Planet Fitness members who generally understand how to achieve and maintain adequate levels of fitness.  They are able to pay a very low membership rate and still navigate a typical Planet Fitness to get in their “workout”, however arguably suboptimal.  Rather, it was written to address the exploitation of those people with serious health and bodyweight issues; those who are unknowingly patronized and otherwise misguided by this business.  These people are often plagued with terrible depression, self-esteem, function and lifestyle issues related to their body fat and ill health problems.  The first article, if critical, was actually written as a warning to, and in defense of those Planet Fitness members.

The diet and fitness industry should be taken seriously.  That’s because it serves as a barrier (or when irresponsible, a pre-cursor) to another far more dire one – the medical industry.  The next stop can be an otherwise pre-mature introduction to the funeral industry.  As such, regarding efficacy, the diet and fitness industry should be deadly serious.  For many people, a healthy, functional and happy future will literally depend on it.  Yet, this industry continues to fail the vast majority of us while raking in $ billions.  It is rife with hucksterism, fads, misinformation, and the pervasive phenomenon of telling people lies they wish to hear instead of truths they need to hear.

A good gym should be honored by the fine people who walk through its doors and pay for a membership.  To me, this represents an unwritten contract that signifies that members are giving their trust and confidence to the gym they choose to join.   Here is where I would challenge detractors of the logic behind the first article.  I submit that the goal of any credible gym must be to ensure its members…

SUCCESSFULLY ACHIEVE OR EXCEED THEIR GOALS!

In contrast, making members feel exceedingly comfortable by ensuring they won’t apply any real effort, feeding them fattening, unhealthy and addictive foods, and inflating them with artificial, ephemeral “self-esteem” by ensuring they are not exposed to any really “in-shape” people are NOT part of this prime directive.  On the contrary, these things impair it.

One does not generally go to the hospital for emergency surgery and tell the surgeon “No, I think I have a better idea.  I just want to do this my way”.  In this respect, especially for people who are dangerously overweight and in poor health, any responsible gym should operate much like an “ethical hospital”.  It must help paying members with the best information and equipment available rather than telling them only what they wish to hear.  Watered down, patronizing, and at best sub-standard methods, ideas and equipment are clearly not in the best interest of these people.  In fact, these things act as huge, confusing obstacles blocking the way to the health and fat loss these people urgently need.

I compare the treatment at Planet Fitness with the gyms such as the one I attend.  Here we begin with proven, easy to follow dietary advice from leading evolutionary biologists.  Healthy foods suggested include naturally raised meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds prepared in many delicious variations.  This helps ensure fat loss success.  The work of the world’s most renowned coaches, doctors and scientists regarding the most proven information on creating optimal human performance and “fitness” is applied.  Members push, pull, squat, lift and carry resistance.  They also walk, run and jump.

For people who cannot complete these natural, biomechanical movements with their body weight, there are huge foam blocks, counter weights and reverse bands.  There are also wooden bars and plates for new people or those who are injured.  Those movements are then scaled with responsible incremental resistance creating maximal function, strength and muscle in the most efficient way possible.

There is no attitude.  There is no stigma.  No one is patronized.  The strongest help the weakest (thank you Louie Simmons for that one).  The environment is positive and fun.  Everyone supports and helps everyone else.  The methods and ideas employed are congruent with micro-economics and adhere to the min/max principle – the minimum amount of work for the maximum results.  People succeed.

Gyms like this can actually be quite similar to Planet Fitness in some ways.  Gratuitous, unnecessary noise is discouraged.  Neither management nor members will ever tolerate bullies or intimidating or arrogant behavior.  Any good gyms should be exceedingly welcoming and friendly to new members, especially those with no experience.  These particular areas though are where the similarities end.

Imagine if anything close to the truth about how to eat and how to get into great shape in the most efficient ways were suddenly revealed and promoted at Planet Fitness.  Members would be fighting over the minimal free weights available.  They would quickly outgrow the light dumbbells and barbells and demand heavier free weights of all kinds.  The rows of cardio machines would be collecting dust.  Worst for Planet Fitness, members would be showing up multiple times per week because of the sudden positive results achieved.  The business model would likely fall apart due to unmanageable over-crowding.

The apparent absurdity of Planet Fitness logic makes one think of other examples of common physical problems we would never consider trying to solve using the same type of flawed model.  Please consider an aching cavity or simple tooth decay.  One would require a qualified dentist in a professional dental office to quickly solve this problem – RIGHT!?

Now, just imagine instead a large clinic that is much, much cheaper than a typical dentist’s office, or even insurance – only $10.00 a month.  Let’s call it “Planet Dental”.  There are very few, if any people with healthy teeth there.  Most clients have varying degrees of serious tooth decay.

Tooth paste and tooth brushes are free, but they have bristles that are so soft, they can’t really brush and clean your teeth effectively.  Only “Planet Dental” toothpaste is provided.  It comes in flavors like “cotton candy” and “chocolate fudge”.  It’s not really effective though because it contains sugar and just the tiniest bit of fluoride to ensure that the flavors are not ruined.  Yes, there is dental floss, but it is so thin, it breaks every time you try to use it.  That’s okay because it’s edible and comes in a variety of candy and fruit flavors.  ANY outside dental expertise, supplies, equipment, or advice is STRICTLY prohibited at Planet Dental.

Members at this clinic enjoy mostly soft foods that are sweet and enjoyable, so their teeth don’t hurt when they eat.  Everyone gets free pain killers, as much as they want:  Valium, Oxycontin, and the most popular – laughing gas.  No one is in pain; everyone is, well…”happy”.

There are no registered dentists or hygienists.  Those people are way too scary and far too intimidating with their needles, drills, and dental outfits!  There are instead….”Ahum”…”Dental Buddies” who dress casually and get you whatever you need.  The first Thursday of every month is “No Judgements – Free Hard Candy and Soda” day.  Children up to the age of 12 are an especially successful demographic for Planet Dental.

Are people with perfect, healthy, gleaming white teeth allowed at this clinic?  Yes, but they are strictly prohibited from smiling, or otherwise showing their teeth.  If a “Dental Buddy” catches one of these people showing their healthy teeth, they are quickly kicked out of the clinic and forced to pay a $150.00 “exit fee”.  Once, one of these members with “nice teeth” was witnessed smiling and giving advice to a member with severe tooth decay.  She even slipped him an “outside” toothbrush with advice on how to brush.  The police were called and that member was permanently removed from the clinic.

Your teeth?  Your dental issues?  Well, they likely won’t get much better.  They might even get worse, but no one will ever judge your teeth at Planet Dental and there is no pain, so it really doesn’t matter.  Membership at this clinic is pretty much permanent because the problems with your teeth tend to persist and because of the low, low monthly $ fee.  After all, it’s a harsh world out there, full of scary, expensive dentists and perfect teeth.  Why on earth would anyone leave?

Planet Dental represents a very successful business model and it recently made the Forbes list of top franchises in America.  At last count there were over 1000 locations with new ones opening at a frantic pace.

WHERE IN YOUR MESSAGE, PLANET FITNESS IS THERE ANY INDICATION, WHATSOEVER THAT YOU WILL SUCCESSFULLY HELP ME BECOME LEANER, STRONGER, HEALTHIER AND MORE MUSCULAR?

  I’M QUITE SURE THOSE ARE PRECISELY THE REASONS I CAME HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!?!

The underlying premise behind Planet Fitness is fascinatingly ambitious.  Diminish the idea of “changing the person” and making him or her healthier.  Rather, just temporarily change the person’s entire environment instead.  This creates an illusion for many members, but only while they are within the coddling, condescending walls of Planet Fitness.  They might as well have installed “fun house” mirrors that provide an “extra slim” reflection.  To me, using this illusory model with a practically non-existent membership fee to lure in people who really need help while disallowing the best principles and ideas to actually help them improve is cruel.

The door we walk through when we leave Planet Fitness leads to the real world.  I can assure anyone (especially having been 50 pounds overweight myself) that in this harsh real world the joys of robust and vital health, physical function, improved sexual attractiveness, and just looking so much better in (and out) of your clothes are indeed priceless.  These benefits will completely transcend the efforts you apply to achieve your healthy state.  This is why “fitness” becomes a permanent part of your life once it is achieved in an economically viable way.  The methods must actually work though.

For those who appreciated the logic of the first article and perhaps this one, things are getting really silly in the fitness industry.  It seems that the financial success of the Planet Fitness model has caused many large players in the fitness industry to not only get nervous, but to quickly jump on the bandwagon.  Many national gym chains have adopted an “if you can’t beat’em, join them!” strategy complete with the approximate $10.00 per month membership model.

The industry pendulum is quickly swinging toward the absurd.  Consequently, desperate and worried companies are chasing it with typical hypnotic hysteria.  As a result many “Planet Fitness-esque” gyms, complete with their own signature brightly colored equipment seem to be opening up everywhere.  Regardless, the minority of people and gym owners remaining decidedly at the other end of the spectrum will just shake their heads.  Those other people know the truth and as the Gym industry lurches the other way it will only make them look even better.

The truth is a powerful thing and a few years from now I have no doubt that pendulum will swing back our way with a vengeance.  My bet is that when this happens, there will be a massive surplus of gently used purple, red…and yellow….and fluorescent green…treadmills and assorted muscle isolating circuit machines all for sale at rock bottom prices.

#FortisFitness #RealGyms #Truth

“Fancy and Expensive Gyms” – BEWARE OF MIXED SIGNALS!

“Fancy and Expensive Gyms” – BEWARE OF MIXED SIGNALS, Fortis Fitness, Sean Kelly

With many so called “gyms” these days, there is an almost direct correlation between how much money we pay and how far we are removed from ever attaining our health and fitness goals. I submit:

Generally, the fancier and more expensive your gym, the more likely you will remain fat and unhealthy.

I believe most people can relate to the type of “fitness facility” to which I am referring. The fanciest of these gyms are sure to be in the heart of the largest, most well traveled cities – New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, London, etc. These spaces are always fabulously opulent, satisfying those with the most mandarin tastes.

 

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Michael De La Pava’s Battle Ax Gym

It’s always great to find a new, REAL gym at which to train. Michael De La Pava’s Battle Ax Gym is exactly that. Upon my arrival to his facility, I promptly asked Michael: “Uhm…where is the sauna and the spa area? It is on the other side of that concrete wall behind those racks and chains?” Michael’s response: “I think there is a big puddle on the road just outside the parking lot. You can go sit in it!” I knew I had the RIGHT place!

Fantastic gym, awesome, gracious people who lift really heavy stuff.

Thanks again, Big Mike!

WELCOME!….to Planet Fitness

By / Other Gyms / Comments Off on WELCOME!….to Planet Fitness

I’ve heard some things about Planet Fitness gyms before which made me cringe with disbelief. I had to find out for myself and I recently stepped into one of these gyms for my first visit. The full visceral experience was almost too much to take. I had heard the stories: no dropping of weights, whatsoever, a “Lunk Alarm” prohibiting members from making any noises of physical exertion. A “Lunk” seems to refer to one who “grunts, drops weights, or judges others”. “Pizza” nights? Yup, first Monday of every month. They also have “Bagel mornings” on Tuesdays. I figured most of this stuff was exaggeration, but it’s actually all true. Some additional highlights include the following:

  • Dumbbell weights limited to a whopping 60 pounds
  • Barbells weights limited to a whopping 60 pounds
  • Three…THREE Smith machines
  • 95 (That’s NINETY FIVE) assorted cardio machines – rows and rows of them
  • 33 large screen TV’s
  • Circuits of isolating resistance machines, which seem to have unusually low weight stacks
  • Automatic water massage beds and massage chairs, including a giant flat screen TV right in front of them!

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There were lots of seemingly less than “in-shape” people on the treadmills and using some of the other equipment in an obvious attempt to become not so “out of shape”. This initial impression was a hopeful one. It seemed that these were people working out, who otherwise might not be exercising. Yet, for me this first impression masked a rather devious reality hidden just underneath that façade.

“Tootsie Rolls” right at the front desk!

Tootsie Rolls

Planet Fitness seems to represents a sort of “Fitness Methadone” idea, where it’s just fine to be fat and out of shape, but “Hey, you are going to a gym and working out!” So, I guess it’s better than being fat and out of shape, but not going through the motions in a gym. The entire concept represents some kind of “white flag”. It’s a fascinating place where getting into what most people would consider “desirable physical shape” isn’t the primary goal. In this regard Planet Fitness turns the very idea of a “gym” completely on its head.

I submit that a typical gym generally represents a form of linear progression. That is, you go there to improve physically but no doubt there are people there who started before you, have more experience, eat a healthier diet, and/or have great genetics. So, when you step into a typical gym there are likely going to be folks who are in better shape and some who are in worse shape than you, whether you are comfortable with that or not. It is generally understood though, that most people are at the gym to improve physically.

I stepped into my first gym as a pudgy, weak 17 year old. Now, that first gym was filled almost exclusively with bouncers, cops, athletes, serious bodybuilders and assorted meatheads of all kinds. It was intimidating. The old metal dumbbells went up to 200 pounds. It had a reputation for having the most weight and the biggest, strongest members. That’s exactly why I joined!   Yes, there were a few “assholes”. Yet, in the few years I went there, the owner and most of the bigger stronger guys taught and motivated me enough to get bigger, stronger and in better shape than I ever could have imagined. Planet Fitness would never have allowed any of my youthful aspirations to be met.

It is very difficult to give Planet Fitness the analogous credit of “gym training wheels” status, since the purpose of training wheels is to lead someone to ride a bike without the training wheels. Yet, it seems to be Planet Fitness policy to purposely blunt, and highly discourage this natural percolation of less fit to more fit. Witness the 60 pound limit dumbbells and barbells. Hell, they will kick you out for actual expressions of effort, like exhaling while exerting physically (also known as a “grunt”), mild or otherwise. This discouragement is highly oppressive.

Yes, at Planet Fitness there are really friendly people. Yes, there are gym members who are moving. But this begs the question: would not these motivated people also be exercising and improving physically if they were provided with vastly more effective and highly proven alternatives?

As far as thoughtful, proven and effective training methods and an environment within which to complete them, there is far too much about Planet Fitness to critique. As an example, the “no grunting” rule. What is a grunt, exactly? It implies that to some degree, the Valsalva maneuver has been incorporated by someone during physical exertion. That would be closing the glottis causing one to “hold their breath” even while applying force to exhale. This improves core stability when attempting to move a heavy weight and otherwise exert physical effort. The “grunt” to whatever degree, is some of the air escaping from the lungs as this physical exertion peaks.

Why would someone do such a thing? It’s actually quite natural. To effectively transfer force (move a heavy object) and protect the spine, this holding of the breath creates additional core stability by filling (and holding) the lungs with air. Just think of moving really heavy furniture up stairs. One tends to takes a big breath, lifts or pushes like hell and often “grunts” out air in the process. This is mostly a natural, almost reflexive phenomenon. Conversely, it is demonstrably unnecessary for tasks requiring little force exertion.

Now, physical improvement inherently involves continuing physical adaptations. The body adapts, so you must keep increasing (and changing) the stimuli for adaptations to continue. How do you create those new adaptations? Well, simply put, by “trying hard”. Thus, we have the occurrence of “grunting” as a natural expression of greater physical efforts. That is exactly why people in a gym trying to improve will be heard grunting during physical exertion. That is also why, in trying to create these vital new adaptations, they will test their limits with both added resistance and/or additional repetitions. Testing limits (the “trying really hard” part) can naturally lead to the point of failure where a weight is occasionally dropped involuntarily. This is one reason why most gyms have rubber floors and/or rubber coated weights. Yet, like grunting, dropping weights is also highly prohibited at Planet Fitness.

So, to disallow natural expressions of effort or the occasional dropping of weights is to disallow the new adaptations to get physically….well…better!

These prohibitions then, present a major problem for people trying to build muscle, burn fat, and get stronger at a gym. In fact, they make it almost impossible.

I submit that the food one eats is such an important part of losing fat and getting healthy that this is an accepted maxim in the world of diet and fitness. Yet, I either toured or called over 20 different Planet Fitness locations in over 12 different states and got the same answer. There is no nutritional guidance provided since there are no trained nutritionists and the trainers are there only to advise members on training and using the equipment – not food choices. The Trainers I did speak with stated the same thing: “I’m not a nutritionist and I can’t tell you what you should eat”. I was told they are simply not authorized. The most I could get was that Trainers may offer some general dietary advice only, but that is all.

Pizza Night?

Summarizing, Planet Fitness seems to prevent or at best limits new physical and mental adaptations from occurring, thus ensuring the failure or very limited progress of its members attempting to get lean, strong and healthy. It ensures this with the following flawed ideas and equipment:

  1. Most of the floor space is dedicated to repetitive cardio machines. Mathematics involving the first law of thermodynamics and the excessive calories in our addictive and ubiquitous modern food demonstrate clearly that these machines will generally result in failure where fat loss is concerned.
  1. Isolating machines – any initial physical adaptations caused by this equipment diminish rapidly (generally within 1-3 months). A lack of adaptations results in a lack of improvement.
  1. Little or no specific, effective dietary advice. This helps to ensure that #1 and #2 will create little or no success where permanent fat loss is concerned.
  1. Inferior, substandard information and guidance. The most effective, proven ideas on health and fat loss are literally disallowed. This creates an artificial “Planet Fitness” atmosphere where the chances of permanent health and fat loss are highly unrealistic.
  1. An alarming and almost complete lack of other “in-shape” members to whom other members may aspire, from whom they may learn, gain inspiration, or with whom they may workout.

What I believe to be most insidious thing here is the long term effect of Planet Fitness on the psyche and moral of its members, especially those who achieve some short term success just by moving their bodies, and perhaps restricting their calories. Without permanent methods that get to the roots of the problem these gains will generally and for the most part disappear. A sort of “learned helplessness” will occur for these poor members who are have shown up and “worked out” yet end up right back in the same physical predicament (I’ve been there and done that). This is likely the greatest reason why people quit diets, quit going to the gym, and simply give up all together on getting into the physical shape they deserve. Still, this psychological blow is likely softened because one would be surrounded by others in the same situation.

Their Message?

WHERE? OH WHERE IN YOUR MESSAGE, PLANET FITNESS IS THERE ANY INDICATION, WHATSOEVER THAT YOU WILL SUCCESSFULLY HELP ME TO BECOME LEANER, STRONGER, HEALTHIER AND LOOKING BETTER?   I’M QUITE SURE THOSE ARE PRECISELY THE REASONS I CAME HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!?!

The door we walk through when we leave Planet Fitness leads to the real world. I can assure anyone (especially having been 50 pounds overweight myself) that in that harsh real world the joys of robust and vital health, improved sexual attractiveness, and just looking so much better in (and out) of your clothes are indeed priceless. They will completely transcend the efforts you applied to achieve your healthy state. This is why “fitness” becomes a permanent part of your life once it is economically achieved. The methods must actually work though, and they must be permanent.

My experience with Planet Fitness reminded me of what I believe “success” for a gym should really represent:

A successful gym should solve the diet, fitness, and health problems of its members!

Aside from cleanliness, friendly staff and a reasonable price, this can be accomplished by following two awesome rules:

AWESOME RULE #1 – Use only the best, most proven information and equipment which will deliver optimal health, fat loss and fitness in the most efficient way possible

AWESOME RULE #2 – A hyper positive, “judgment free”, and non-critical atmosphere with friendly, respectful people who are welcoming and supportive of beginners and especially to those who are out of shape.

Here’s the kicker. These two awesome rules…..ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE! In fact, for a gym to successfully help its members it must apply both rules simultaneously. By forsaking and actually preventing AWESOME RULE #1, a gym will doom its members to wallow in the very problems they came there to solve.

So, what can we learn from Planet Fitness? Well, they have applied AWESOME RULE #2 with amazing effectiveness. I was there. I’ve got to say, the staff and the trainers were really nice people. These frontline folks seem genuinely concerned for the members. Planet Fitness has also provided an almost impossibly low membership rate, making the gym economically accessible to almost anyone. Alright, really well done! Unfortunately, all of that positive stuff is rendered relatively useless if any real substance (AWESOME RULE #1) has been completely discarded, with extreme prejudice.

This is precisely why both rules continue to be such an important part of the gym to which I belong. It is also, I believe why beginners and out of shape folks thrive there. Their permanent results strongly confirm this.

It is interesting to take a closer look at that incredibly low $10.00 per month membership rate. Consider that approximately 67% of people with gym memberships never use them and the average cost of a gym membership is $55.00 per month http://www.statisticbrain.com/gym-membership-statistics/ Now, if the average membership in a typical gym or health club is 1645 members http://www.ihrsa.org/media-center/2013/5/8/585-million-americans-utilize-health-clubs.html then just to attain average industry gym revenue, all things being equal and given the same average attendance rates, a Planet Fitness would need to have a roughly 5.5 times the number of members of a typical club. That would require (at a minimum) a mammoth 9048 members. Planet Fitness gym attendance would likely swell to the point of severe overcrowding if even the paltry 33% average number of members showed up regularly. Further, with the $10.00 monthly membership rate (less than 20% of the industry average), the profit would turn to severe loss if members did show up with any regularity and total membership counts had to be restricted. Indeed, this business model seems highly dependent on the vast majority of members not showing up at the gym with any frequency, if at all.

An integral aspect of the Planet Fitness business plan seems to involve luring really out of shape people into an exceedingly friendly, forgiving room for an irresistible price. These members are then restricted to ideas, equipment and methods which have been proven inferior and in some ways may be worse than doing nothing. Even the foods that get many into this poor physical shape – candy, pizza, and bagels – are actually provided.   This is like some kind of grand, all-encompassing fitness pacification. With 800 locations and growing, this plan obviously works exceedingly well as a business. But from a physical improvement standpoint, it’s almost like moving the BMI standards higher, because it’s just too mean and insulting for people to fall into the “obese” categories. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t change anything.

It seems obvious that certain micro economic and psychological idiosyncrasies that pulse strongly within the target market are being exploited. These include the statistical reality that people have feelings of comfort and progress in belonging to a gym, even if not attending regularly, or at all. The low price makes that especially hard to resist. This also includes the unreality that health and fitness will ultimately be comfortable and not involve any real effort. This combination creates an irresistible (if impossible) “Fitness Nirvana” for the most out of shape people who nonetheless long to become physically better.

It is difficult to look at Planet Fitness as anything more than a bad physiological joke. In my opinion, it is a big, purple colored adult day care where the optimistic but overweight people who do show up waste hours completing repetitive, and in the end relatively worthless movements. Alas, I am quite sure the Planet Fitness franchise owners are very happy. Blind to the realities of getting lean and healthy and without seeking an alternative, I believe most of their members will not be so fortunate.

I find it hard to believe that the corporate owners are not aware of the ugly side of this concept. What then, does this say about the hearts of the corporate owners? Yes, people WANT a friendly, non-critical room (who doesn’t), but what they NEED (and also want desperately) is permanent results. The very health and well being of these members is at stake.

The apparent absurdity of Planet Fitness logic makes me think of other examples of physical problems which we would never consider solving in the same ways. Please consider an aching cavity or simple tooth decay. I need a qualified dentist in a clean dental office to solve my problem – right!?

Now, just imagine instead a large clinic that is much, much cheaper than a regular dentists’ office, or even insurance – only $10.00 a month. Let’s call it “Planet Dental”. There are very few, if any people with healthy teeth there, only those with some degree of tooth decay. Tooth paste and tooth brushes are free for everyone, but they have bristles that are so soft, they can’t really “brush” your teeth effectively. Only “Planet Dental” toothpaste is provided. It comes in flavors like “cotton candy” “chocolate fudge” and contains just the tiniest bit of fluoride so the flavors are not ruined. Yes, there is dental floss, but it is so thin, it breaks every time you try to use it. That’s okay because it’s edible and comes in a variety of candy and fruit flavors. ANY other so-called dental expertise, supplies, equipment, or advice is STRICTLY prohibited at Planet Dental.

Members at this clinic enjoy mostly soft foods that are sweet and enjoyable, so their teeth don’t hurt when they eat. Everyone at “Planet Dental” gets free pain killers, as much as they want. There are self-service rooms for this. There is a huge variety – Percocets, Oxycontin, and the most popular – laughing gas. So, no one is ever in any pain, everyone is…well…happy.

There are no registered dentists or hygienists. Those people are way too scary and far too intimidating with their needles, drills, and dental outfits! There are instead….ahum…”Dental Buddies” who just wear nice, regular street clothes, and get you whatever you need. The first Thursday of every month is “No-Judgements-Hard Candy and Soda” day. Children up to the age of 12 are an especially successful demographic for Planet Dental.

Are people with perfect, healthy, gleaming white teeth allowed at this clinic? Yes, they are allowed, but they are strictly prohibited from smiling, or otherwise showing their teeth. If a “Dental Buddy” catches one of these people showing their teeth, they are quickly kicked out of the clinic and forced to pay an exit fee of about $150.00. Once, one of these “nice teeth” residents was witnessed smiling and giving advice to a member with severe tooth decay. She even slipped him an “outside” toothbrush with advice on how to brush. The police were called and that member was immediately kicked out of the clinic.

Your teeth? Your dental issues? Well, they might get a little bit better, or they might get worse, but no one will ever judge your teeth at Planet Dental and there is no pain, so it really doesn’t matter. Membership at this clinic is pretty much permanent because the problems with your teeth tend to persist and because of the low, low monthly fee. Members never really leave. After all, it’s a harsh world out there, full of scary, expensive dentists, and perfect teeth. Why on earth would anyone leave? Planet Dental presents a very successful business model and it recently made the Forbes list of top franchises in America. At last count there were over 800 locations with new ones opening at a frantic pace.

Without going into any further detail, I believe that Planet Fitness generally defies all of our best information on the physiology of successful fat loss. All combined with guidance that will result in relative failure; the message delivered in an excruciatingly cavalier manner. Still, in the end for those who are truly concerned with the success of people trying to lose fat and get strong and healthy, Planet Fitness does provide one benefit. When asked about all that we believe is horribly wrong with the fitness industry in general; when asked about the prolific greed, misinformation, and why the public just keeps getting bigger and less healthy we can help to summarize with a two word answer – “Planet Fitness”.