In Which Jenn Reviews Planet Fitness

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.

Open 24/7.

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???

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 8/01

Well, I did it, kids – I signed up for a new gym. It’s a little farther from home than I’d like, but it could hardly be any cheaper, so… call it a wash?

I’ve only joined so far, though – no uses yet, since the weather was cooperative last week. Dare I suggest that I’ve become an outdoor runner? Blasphemy! Let’s check the logs:

Sunday | ran 9.23 miles on Assateague Island in 1:35
A tale of ponies, trails, and bug bites. Ah, memories.

Monday | walked 2.12 miles in 35 minutes; 50 minute Horton jazz dance class

Tuesday | ran 7.04 miles outside in 1:15

Wednesday | walked 2.37 miles in 40 minutes; 40 minute hip hop dance class
I would’ve hipped (and hopped, presumably) longer, but the apocalyptic hellscape that is the capital beltway during a particularly heinous rush hour made me late. CURSE YOU, DC.

Thursday | ran 5.68 miles outside in 60 minutes

Friday | ran 5.59 miles outside in 60 minutes

Saturday | rest
Dropped my phone in the toilet and both it and I lived to tell the tale. Let that give hope to the similarly beleaguered (AND TURN THAT SUCKER OFF IMMEDIATELY).

Anyway. More on my new gym experience in a later post, once I’ve, y’know, actually experienced it.

Yeah, seems likely.

Roundup, take us out.

Half Crazy Mama offers some marathon don’ts.
The Magic of Running points out that running with headphones ain’t all bad.
– Crazy excited for your first runDisney race? Duh. The Runner’s Guide to WDW knows how to tame that nervous energy.
Jambo Everyone reveals that DAK will soon welcome tiger cubs!!!
– Speaking of DAK, The Main Street Gazette enjoys the Wild Africa Trek.
Disney In Your Day enjoys an evening perusing WDW’s BoardWalk area.
This Fairytale Life has the scoop on Lularoe’s latest Disney designs.
– For those who are carting kids around WDW, Adventures in Familyhood knows how to find a sitter or similar on property.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 7/05

Well, that’s it guys. The gym – she is no more. Stupid lease-buying real estate developers and their stupid multi-family dwellings. STUPID.

Sunday | ran 7.07 miles on the treadmill in 1:10
Remember the treadmill? Man, that was nice to have.

Monday | ran 5.52 miles outside in 60 minutes
But time marches on. Circumstances change. We must adapt.

Tuesday | walked 2.75 miles outside in 45 minutes; 80 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 9.05 miles outside in 1:40

Thursday | walked 2.09 miles outside in 35 minutes; 80 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 5.15 miles on the treadmill in 50 minutes
This was the very last day the gym was open. I chose to knock out a speed run while I still had the treadmill to help me with the “speed” part. Fittingly, it was one of the best speed runs I’ve ever had. Sigh…

Fear not! I have a plan for signing up a new gym. Pro: it will save me money. Con: it will require me to drive to the gym. Drat. So for the future I’m going to try to do as much of my running as possible outside. Barring scores upon scores of ill-timed thunderstorms, this should work out all right. When the time changes and the sun doesn’t rise until 7am, though, it’s gonna blow.

But that’s future Jenn’s problem. Present Jenn now presents: the roundup.

Just Me & My Running Shoes confronts the reality that is marathon training.
The Magic of Running experiences running in a sports bra – no shirt – and it is glorious.
– Pirates of yesterday: Passport to Dreams Old & New reconstructs the old-school WDW Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.
– Pirates of tomorrow: The Disney Tourist Blog discusses the announced changes to the redhead, among other things.

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 6/08

Something TERRIBLE has happened.

What am I supposed to do now? Run outside exclusively?! In Maryland?! WHERE WINTER EXISTS?????
Ugh, I need to move to Orlando or Hawaii or something ASAP. In the meantime… what do I do?! Luckily I’m pretty amenable to early runs outside during the summer while the sun rises early and the temperatures are acceptably warm for my strangely reptilian comfort level, but one early morning torrential rainstorm and I’m screwed. Ugh. And all the other gyms near me are either hella expensive or too far to walk without becoming their own freakin’ workout in the first place.
Oh well. I’ll figure something out. While I’m sulking, enjoy last week’s training recap.
Sunday | ran 7.06 miles on the treadmill in 1:10

Monday | ran 5.29 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes

Tuesday | walked 2.13 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 5.24 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.37 miles in 40 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Friday | rest
I had a half day at work, so I headed down to Annapolis early for packet pickup. They had advertised an “expo” that turned out to have, like, three vendors, but it was well organized and came with some neat swag, including running socks. Then Elizabeth and I ate sushi and watched Magic Mike, because that’s what you do the night before a race.
Saturday | ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon, 13.36 in 2:10:49 according to my GPS watch
Annnd on to the Twilight Bark we go.
Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Hates Being Emergency Stopped

Have you ever had a training run where everything just kept going wrong? Like, nothing truly catastrophic happened, but multiple little annoyances piled up until most of your energy was sourcing from general pissiness?
Let me walk you through this run I had a couple weeks ago:
My alarm goes off at 5:40am. The temperature is perfect for an outdoor run. I get up, slap on my clothes, put in my contacts, put my keys in my hidden pants pocket, and am munching on my Vitamuffin when I realize: I forgot to charge my GPS watch. And it’s almost dead.
Okay, new plan. I’ll go to the gym and use the treadmill. Unfortunately, I’ve been lollygagging a bit as when on an outdoor run I don’t have to worry about the quarter mile walk to the gym, putting my stuff in a locker, filling my water bottle, etc. I throw on a hoodie, grab my backpack, and power walk to my gym.
I hop on the treadmill, only a few minutes behind. Score! My long pants are a little hot indoors, but whatever. I’ll just be sweaty. Also, it’s kind of awkward with my contacts in. All the sudden I notice how weird it is to look at yourself in the mirror while running. This is why I usually just wear glasses there and take them off. Disconcerting, but whatever.
Ooh, yeah, definitely sweaty. I reach for my towel and accidentally knock off the emergency stop magnet. I come to a shuddering halt with no way of starting again without beginning anew entirely. DAMMIT. This completely ruins my flow. But there’s not much to be done but take a picture of my progress so far and restart the treadmill.
All is going well – until I somehow manage to yank out the emergency stop magnet AGAIN. Honestly, has this thing ever been used for an actual emergency? I have never once seen anyone clip it to their clothing. All it seems to do is mess up my intervals. I take another picture and start anew.
Of course, by this time my actual time and distance is all scrambled. I need to figure it out fast so that I can hit my mileage goal but still make it to work on time. Naturally my brain is so scattered by this point it takes me an embarrassing amount of time to do some simple addition. I finally arrive at the proper number but in my distracted state manage to miss hitting the stop button at the correct time. I’m only a few seconds off but I’m annoyed at myself for committing such a stupid error.
Oh, I’m whining. It all turned out okay. My uncertainty about how much time I had left led me to push myself a little harder, so that’s good. And everything that went wrong was my own bloody fault, so there’s no one to blame but myself. One thing’s for certain – I’ll be hyper-paranoid about keeping my GPS watch charged from now on!
Have you ever had a run where things were just not going your way?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has A Different Kind Of Locker Room Envy

As I continue to adjust to real gym life, I make small discoveries. Apparently working out among many is far different from working out among few. Go figure. For example: do you experience locker room envy?

No, I don’t mean feeling jealous that other people are skinnier or more toned or whatever than you are. What I mean is rather that stab of jealousy I get when I walk into the locker room before my work out and encounter people who have CLEARLY just finished. Maybe they’re a little sweaty; maybe they’re changing clothes. Maybe they’re merely pulling their stuff out of their locker rather than shoving it in.

Whatever the clues, I can tell they are set for the day as far as exercise is concerned. Whereas I haven’t even changed into my frickin’ running sneakers yet. I want to be done, too, dammit! I wanna go take a shower secure in the knowledge that I strengthened my heart and burned some calories! Why does working out have to take so much tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime???

Pictured: Running, time.

Of course, there is the small comfort of the future, not only knowing that I too will be done eventually but also knowing that I will also experience the sweet schadenfreude of the reverse. I will of course be done myself, inciting the envy of those just arriving, and also I will be able to look at those who have not yet shed their coats and think: ha! You only just got here and I get to leave!

Um… now that I’ve spelled it all out I feel a) whiny followed by b) mean-spirited. But you know what I’m talking about, right? … Anyone? O.o

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon! 

In Which Jenn Joins A Real Gym

I have joined a gym. It is not my fault. My new apartment, while lovely in many other ways, does not offer its own gym. Not that apartment gyms are generally that great anyway; in my experience maintenance is spotty and equipment is meager. Still, it’s always been nice to have.

I briefly considered purchasing my own treadmill, even though nice ones are expensive, just because I loved the convenience factor. However, the prospect of then inevitably MOVING said treadmill to my next location put me off the idea, to say nothing of what to do in the event of a malfunction. No, a gym membership it was to be.

I found a place a mere block or two from my place that’s perfectly fine. There are lots of treadmills and it’s not too intimidating, all things considered. But as I haven’t used anything but a sparsely populated basement apartment gym in 5 years, I can’t help but notice a change in the feel of the thing.

This is mostly my own fault. I am self-conscious by nature and I am also new. I’m sure once I’ve been using the big gym for a couple months it’ll be old hat. Still, sometimes I can’t shake the feeling that I stick out in some way. In what way? Because I carry my iPod in a pink pouch? Because I sometimes wear glasses? Do you think they all think I run SO. SLOWLY? Are they judging me? Does anyone actually care? NO. My logical brain knows this. My irrational brain just feels weird.

Partially this is NOT in my head, because being in a real gym does require some behavior modification. For example, no more slowing the treadmill to a crawl and taking a phone call when the gym is empty because the gym will never be empty again. Likewise, no more making wild arm gestures when inspired by a song. I mean, I guess I could, but even forgetting the weirdness factor I could hit someone, y’know? And why did that guy get on the treadmill RIGHT NEXT TO ME when there are like five empties in a row?

No more of empty gym selfies.

Another thing I don’t like about the gym: the treadmills, while nice, automatically go to cool down mode after an hour, forcing me to restart. I don’t suppose anyone knows a way to get around this? Restarting isn’t a huge deal, but it does kinda interrupt my flow.

On the other hand…

If a treadmill is broken, I can just use the one next to it. Or the one next to that one. There are LOTS.

If I suddenly get the yen to use something other than a treadmill (ha!), I have many options.

There are always paper towels. And there are water fountains. Oh, and a BATHROOM.

Speaking of the treadmills, I haven’t experienced any hip or knee pain on my right side since using them, which was a frequent occurrence before. I don’t know that there’s a connection, but…

Also, the display pad is much lower, which seems to have broken me of my sporadic “holding on” habit.

So ultimately what I’m saying here is that the change is not a bad thing. It could even be argued as a good thing. I believe I will ultimately be better off at a real gym. It’ll just take some getting used to.

And hey, once warmer weather hits I can run outside!

Do you use a “real” gym?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon! 

The Fairest Week In Review: 2/10

JENN: So how was your training this week?

MOON: It was good! Lots of running and exercising. 😀 No big milestones, but it was steady. How was your week?

JENN: Good! It’s been an interesting week because I just started using an actual, real gym as opposed to a basement apartment “gym.” More on that in a later post but let me just say that it takes some getting used to.

Sadly, this has nothing to do with it.

Anyway, I’m slowly working my way up to my old endurance levels and it’s actually kinda working. I would’ve made it to 30 miles this week if I hadn’t had to get back to work. Stupid work, ruining everything!

MOON: Yay! I think I went around the same distance. I’ve been doing shorter runs for months trying to get my speed up, but this week I’m adding distance.

Also, these compression socks are BOSS. I have had absolutely no leg pain. Circulation seems improved.

JENN: I need to break mine out and try them again. I think they might help with my calf recovery – after some of my longer runs last week they were a little sore.

MOON: Give it a try, it can’t hurt.

Any goals for the week?

JENN: Nothing much – just keep up the progress. I’m not sure I can make 30 this week but I’m pretty sure I can surpass 25 and that’s reasonable. You?

MOON: I think 25-30 is a good goal. Let see if we can match!

JENN: Absolutely! In the meantime, roundup.

Elbowglitter has nice things to say about the treadmill. See, it’s not just me!
Black Dog Runs Disney wonders why people are so down on running.
Pink Elephant on Parade has a runniversary!
Running at Disney has the details on runDisney race retreats.
The Disney Hipsters highlight awesome Animal Kingdom ambiance.
Capturing Magical Memories gets a different kind of FastPass.
This Happy Place Blog is 30, and Disney has at LEAST 30 (good things).

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us atfairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!