When my old, walking-distance gym’s lease was bought out, I was presented with a dilemma. All the reasonably close gyms were expensive – like $100+ per month expensive. Or there were cheaper options a lengthy walk away. Or for very little money, I could drive… to Planet Fitness.
Which is where we are today.
I have historically relied pretty heavily on the treadmill for my training. In fact, there was a time when I hardly ever ran outside at all. But I slowly came around to face the truth that real terrain and inclines are what really train you for better races. More and more of my runs are now outside. Indeed, when a trip to the gym requires hopping into the car with a backpack full of supplies as opposed to just stepping out the door, the great outdoors become much more inviting.
But lightning and snow and ice and driving rain and prohibitive cold do not cease to exist, and as such, I need a backup plan. Enter Planet Fitness. It’s a 20 minute drive from home, but only 10 to/from work. And at $15/month ($10 if you pay for the whole year at once), you’re hardly going to find a better price.
That said, it might not be right for everyone, which is why I thought I’d put together this review of the facilities from a runner’s perspective. I’ve only used the Rockville, MD location – you’ll want to check out your own closest franchise. But perhaps this quick overview can give you an idea of whether it’s worth it.
To that end, let’s give Planet Fitness the ol’ fashioned pro/con treatment, shall we?
Lots of treadmills. I’ve never had a problem securing one, regardless of the time.
Multiple TVs with the captions all on! Seriously, there are like 20 TVs in front of the treadmill area.
Great price. Natch.
Large locker room with plenty of lockers, vending machine, and changing rooms. I’ve never needed to use the vending machines, but they have things like protein bars, hairbands, and headphones – little things you might leave behind but kinda NEED for a good workout. My old gym didn’t have any changing rooms so they’re nice to have.
Timed circuit workouts. I’ve never used them but it’s nice to know there’s a guided format if I suddenly want to use the machines.
Water bottle filler. Mind you, sometimes it’s broken, but when it’s working it’s a nice alternative to awkwardly tilting your water bottle under the water fountain spout.
Near places to buy replacement items, supplies, gear. This may not be the case for all locations, but the Rockville spot is in a big ol’ shopping center with restaurants and stores. If you need something or forget something, you might have a replacement a few minutes later.
Easily accessible bathrooms. I note this because my old, two-story gym required you to go alllll the way downstairs and back if you needed to pee. The more centrally-located locker and bathrooms is nice.
Free parking with plenty of spaces.
Hair is EVERYWHERE in the bathroom. Seriously. It’s in the friggin’ SINKS. WHY IS IT IN THE SINKS???
There are tanning machines…? Like, are we trying to get fit or are we trying to die of skin cancer? Which???
Treadmills turn off after an hour. This seems to be a weirdly popular “feature” with treadmill programmers, and PF’s models are no different, sadly. :/
Only three showers. That said, I’ve never had trouble getting one, and that includes when I’ve worked out in the morning before work. But depending on your timing you might not be so lucky.
Only two changing rooms. This is legit not quite enough – I’ve had to wait awhile on more than one occasion.
Shower water could be warmer. But then as I once stated on this very blog I prefer my water to be pumped up from the hottest pits of hell, so it could easily be fine for you.
Equipment is supposedly limited? I don’t know anything about workout machines but they claim they have a “basic” set. Do with that information what you will.
Equipment doesn’t hook into modern tech. All the treadmills are equipped for old iPhones with the bar chargers.
Temperature is uneven. For some reason the treadmill area tends to be warm and the locker room is chilly. I would REALLY like to reverse that.
There you go! Some of my initial thoughts on Planet Fitness. For a backup treadmill place, it totally fits the bill.
Have you used Planet Fitness? What do you think? Or have you found the mythical gym with treadmills that keep going as long as you do? If so, WHERE???
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