by Rocco Castellano

When I decided to write this blog, it would be the ultimate “slam” article. I was going to rip Planet Fitness to shreds with funny anecdotes, stupid choices in marketing, and the infamous snack policy. All those things will be here, but it won’t be the franchise shredding I thought it would be. OK, maybe a little, because it’s too easy, but it will have good stuff too. Maybe. Let’s have some fun. 

Let’s begin by stating a few facts. OK, only one: I’m not too fond of Planet Fitness. I have had at least ten known worst gym experiences ever at Planet Fitness, and that was just in the first month. Then I quit. I hate being a quitter, but I hated Planet Fitness more. After owning my training studios for over 30 years, it seemed weird having to go into a gym. I was thinking about going to Gold’s Gym or working out in my garage, but I got the idea that joining Planet Fitness would be a good thing. $10 a month, and right down the street from my house, it would have nearly everything I needed to work out. Or so I thought.

Junk Food at the Gym? Planet Fitness, Seriously?

I walked in and, upon entering, saw a jar full of tootsie rolls. My greatest weakness is Tootsie Rolls. I love them. I can eat at least 50 miniatures in a sitting, guilt-free, and not look back. So when I saw the tootsie rolls, it didn’t automatically phase me – because I grabbed a handful. While downing about a dozen chocolatey delicious mini-treats of happiness, my brain went into “WTF?” mode. I said: “WTF? I’m eating Tootsie Rolls and signing up for a gym membership. What’s wrong with this picture?” I kept eating the Tootsie Rolls and still signed up—the beginning of the end. 

Many articles about Planet Fitness talk about their ugly colors and dress code policy. I’m not going there because I think the colors aren’t that bad. They’re not the Satan-worshiping black on red or black on blue with over-muscled cartoonish figures breaking out of bricks that I’m so accustomed to, but I had to sacrifice. It was still $10 and literally down the street from me. I walked there as a warm-up. I wore shorts, a tank top, and running shoes, so I guess I was within their dress code. Maybe my name, Rocco Castellano, scared the piss out of them. No, it was because I was within their dress code. 

I started training on a Monday. Guess what was waiting for me when I walked in to train? Wow! You’re good! That’s right, 30 pizza boxes and a bunch of fatties eating pizza. Because it’s a “No Judgement Zone.” I felt I shouldn’t judge and walked past the pepperoni-, sausage-, and meatball-topped pizzas and changed into my gym clothes to begin my brutal workout. Let me tell you, as an Italian American, working out in a place that has a pizza aroma wafting through its air ducts is quite distracting. I don’t want to work out; I want to eat pizza. And I want a lot of it. 

“It’ll Intimidate the Other Members…”

So, being the determined MF, I quashed those cravings and began my workout. As a rule, I always start with my legs; then, I do a quick warm-up on the bike – 12 minutes. I went to the squat rack, put on 225 pounds, and pumped a nice, smooth 20 reps. My first workout was already kicking ass. A happy me is thinking, “Damn, I still got it!” I throw on 315 pounds with obvious balls bigger than my brain, thinking, “I’m going to crush this weight.” I get under the weight, do my little pre-squat dance, and suddenly I get a tap on my shoulder. I didn’t yet have a training partner at this place, so I didn’t know who this could be. I’m going to crush 315 pounds for reps, and you’re bothering me? 

The manager is looking at me through the reflection in the mirror and – no lie, I still get goosebumps thinking about it – he said, “You’re not allowed to lift that much weight here; it will intimidate the other members.”

I stepped out from underneath the weight, turned around, and looked the manager in the eye. I said, “Really? Wow, you have a lot of pussies that workout here then because I was thinking about squatting more.” I don’t think he liked that comment, but he still let me work out. So I went to the leg press and did a 50-rep set of whatever the rack was. Not a waste. Finished up with leg extensions and leg curls and a 6-minute bike ride for some active recovery. 

Judgement Free… That’s a Joke

I went to the dumbbell area, wearing my iPod shuffle because the music pumped through the speakers effectively sucked. I’d love to throw a 25-pound weight at Britney Spears – just sayin’. I grabbed a 45s from the rack and finished up a set of chest flies. I got another tap on my now-exhausted shoulder. Again, WTF? I didn’t realize through the Metallica blasting in my ears that I was making a grunting noise on my last five reps. Grunting is, apparently, also too intimidating. 

So, in my “judgment-free zone,” I experienced a lot of judgment on what happened to be my first day. I will write about my second day in a future post – Day 2: a Lunk Alarm… again?

Did I mention I hate Planet Fitness?  

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