About Planet Fitness

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Dec 28, 2016

Planet Fitness is a budget gym offering memberships for as low as $10, just about the lowest you can find among gym chains. The company’s philosophy focuses on making members feel welcome; they’ve adopted the phrase “judgement-free zone” to describe their facilities.

Their budget mentality is rooted in the company’s history. Founder Michael Grondahl started the first planet Fitness in 1992 as a way to compete with higher-priced gyms.

“He reduced membership prices to compete against better-known brands and focused on serving occasional or first-time gym users,” Entrepreneur writes in their Planet Fitness profile.

PF’s services are bare bones and their facilities are simple and cavernous. Most of their locations are open 24 hours a day.

Is the gym the right fit for you? That’s a matter of what your needs are and how the gym meets those needs. Over the next few minutes we’ll talk about each of those areas, and then we’ll present a few paragraphs covering what people say about Planet Fitness.

We’ll close our review with our conclusions and recommendations about Planet Fitness.

Knowing What You Need From Your Gym

Choosing a gym is kind of like choosing clothes. Just because something works for one of your friends doesn’t mean it will work for you. If you need a new wardrobe, you most likely wouldn’t go to the first store you see and spend all your money there.

Likewise, it’s a good idea not to sign up for the gym your friends or family use just because they like it, or because it’s the first gym near your home. Every individual is different and has their own set of needs.

So, before you think about joining a gym, write down what you want from your gym experience and what you need to meet your goals.

Once you know that, you can be far more prepared to make good decisions about whether or not Planet Fitness is right for you. Yes, their prices are cheap, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got the right mix of amenities to make you happy.

What Does Planet Fitness Offer?

As we mentioned earlier, Planet Fitness is a budget gym that offers bare-bones amenities while promoting a judgement-free atmosphere. We’re going to unpack those fees, amenities, and philosophies in this section.

Fees at Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness offers two different levels of membership: No Commitment and Black Card.

Planet Fitness No Commitment Memberships

The No Commitment membership is, at the time of publishing, $10 a month. Depending on where you sign up, you could pay an activation fee or $10 or $0; these details vary by location. While “No Commitment” implies that you don’t have a contract, remember that certain locations may charge the same for a month-to-month contract and yearly contract, while others may charge more for month-to-month.

If you sign up for a yearly contract, you’ll pay $10 a month and will be charged a cancellation fee amounting to the number of months left on your contract multiplied by $10.

No Commitment contracts entitle you to a free t-shirt when you sign-up, as well as unlimited use and training sessions at one location of your choice.

Planet Fitness Black Card Memberships

Black Card memberships are strictly yearly memberships and cost $19.99 per month. Considered an upgraded version of No Commitment, Black Card gets you the three perks of the lower membership along with the use of all PF gyms across the country, free guest passes, free use of tanning beds, free use of massage chairs and discounts on food and drinks at PF gyms.

Black Card members also get discounts at the Planet Fitness online store and on purchases at Reebok stores. Click here if you want to learn about other shopping perks.

No matter which gym you choose, keep in mind you’ll pay an annual fee that varies by location.

Amenities

Planet Fitness gyms have four main areas: machines, free weights, mat workouts and Black Card.

The gym chain uses Life Fitness workout machines, a reputable brand that rates in the top five on FitnessHealth101 for ellipticals, exercise bikes and treadmills, three pieces of equipment that are very popular with gym members.

This area of the gym is usually skirted by weight machines, most of which have two machines per exercise, a nice perk for those who don’t like to wait to get their reps in.

In most cases, the back section of Planet Fitness is split between a free weights area and an open area with mats for body weight exercises and personal workout routines that require some extra space. Keep in mind that what each gym offers may be a little different. For example, we read about one PF that offers medicine ball training and heavy rope.

Each Planet Fitness also has a Black Card section, which houses massage chairs, hydro-massage beds and tanning beds. These amenities are limited to Black Card members.

Planet Fitness locker rooms include lockers and showers.

Training

Planet Fitness offers free training, but the program isn’t quite what you think. Each gym has a specific schedule of weight-training sessions you can join, most of which focus on specific areas of the body. The classes can be one-on-one but are designed for small groups.

Philosophy

As we talked about in the introduction to this review, Planet Fitness pushes a judgement-free philosophy. In practical terms, this means that each Planet Fitness location has a specific set of rules for conduct in the gym:

  • The free weights area has a “lunk alarm” on the wall. “Lunk” is slang for someone who grunts when they lift and slams weights around when lifting or putting them back on the rack. If any of this bravado takes place, the alarm goes off.
  • A dress code that prohibits do-rags, skull caps, bandanas, boots, sandals, jeans or string tank-tops.
  • A mission statement that pushes back against “gymtimidation,” the feeling newcomers get when they see lunks strolling around the gym showing off their muscles and making people feel inferior.

With the increased awareness of bullying and inclusiveness, Planet Fitness’ philosophy provides a safe place, at least in principle, for average people to go and work out without feeling stupid or ashamed.

But does that philosophy, as well as their facilities, hold up to public opinion?

What Other People are Saying About Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness is a polarizing place; you tend to get people who really love it or really hate it. Aside from people’s workout experience being a defining factor in public opinion, there’s also the matter of the gym’s judgement-free philosophy.

Hardcore People Don’t Like Planet Fitness

Weightlifters and fitness fanatics tend to criticize the gym for being a place where out of shape people go to be coddled and pushed toward mediocrity.

As fitness website T-Nation put it, Planet Fitness is “a big, purple-colored adult daycare marketed to people afraid to go to an actual gym.”

A lot of what influences the backlash to Planet Fitness is the fact that the gyms aren’t designed for fitness fanatics who spend most of their time lifting weights and doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines. On top of that, the gym’s free food perks (bagels one morning a month, pizza one night a month, Tootsie Rolls free at all times) tend to fuel the fire of its enemies.

We certainly understand the push back by some members of the fitness community – PF’s emphasis on people feeling comfortable can grate against the tendencies of more competitive people who prefer high-intensity or bravado-driven workouts.

But not everyone feels that way, and fans of the gym tend to be just as spirited in their defense of it as the gym’s enemies do. A good example is a 2016 Reddit thread about PF titled, “Is Planet Fitness really as bad as people make it out to be?”

Planet Fitness Is not as Bad as Some People Make It Out to Be

It’s important to remember that Planet Fitness isn’t designed for hardcore weightlifters or HIIT fanatics. Rather, it’s focused on average people who want to do cardio, use weight machines and dabble in free weights.

A comment from the Reddit thread by mr_tibbers sums up why people like (and hate) Planet Fitness:

“It's not that bad. For the price, it's solid. I pay 10 a month. I get access to the whole gym, locker room, and showers. They don't have all of the equipment that I would like to use for weight lifting, but I can get around it for the most part.”

We read another comment from a user named natron91 who did a good job describing the kind of person who would like PF:

“It's a decent beginner gym for people getting the feel of things and figuring out a healthy lifestyle or on a budget. But overall, it's not somewhere that can be used long-term because it's easily outgrown.”

The Gym Gets Low Marks for Customer Service

The gym experience, however, is a separate issue from customer service, and we found hundreds of reviews from consumers noting how difficult it was to cancel a membership and how, in some cases, they were required to send a certified letter to the gym at which they signed up in order to cancel.

We called a local Planet Fitness property, and they told us all we’d need to do is come down and sign a document saying we wanted to cancel.

On top of cancellation issues, customers reported they were billed monthly even after they canceled.

We also read complaints about Planet Fitness’ unwillingness to budge on their cancellation fee, regardless of the circumstances of the cancellation (illness, injury, etc.).

Know Your Contract Inside and Out

In light of these negative reviews, we think it’s best if you read through your contract so that you’re clear on the location’s cancellation policy. Request a copy of the contract you can keep for yourself, just in case you have issues with a cancellation.

Also, don’t be afraid to go to your local bank and dispute any incorrect charges to your account from Planet Fitness. Bring your contract and your cancellation with you as proof.

We’re not saying that you’ll have issues with canceling your membership, but we are saying the wise thing to do is to have all your paperwork ready (and understood) just in case you have to plead your case.

Our Conclusions About Planet Fitness

People are unique, so it’s important for them to choose a gym that best fits their needs. Planet Fitness is a low-cost option whose facilities are tailored to newcomers or average people who aren’t looking for specialized workouts and just want to get some cardio and weightlifting in.

So, if you’re the kind of person who hasn’t been to the gym in years, or has never had a gym membership, we think that Planet Fitness could be a good fit for you.

Also, if you’re easily intimidated at gyms and you want a place where you can feel accepted and anonymous, Planet Fitness could be a good fit because of their judgement-free philosophy.

Also, since many of their gyms are open 24 hours a day, you’ll be able to get a workout no matter how crazy your schedule is.

However, if you’re someone who spends more time lifting weights and likes a more raw, primal atmosphere, Planet Fitness is definitely not the place for you. Their gyms tend to be quiet and subdued because of their aversion to the usual customs of weightlifters.

You may want to look into HIIT or iron-heavy locations in your area, as those types of gyms probably have the atmosphere you’re looking for.

If you decide Planet Fitness is a good fit for you, then be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Read over your contract line by line to verify cancellation details and the length of your contract. Ask the gym associate to give you a copy of the contract, then hold onto it just in case you want to cancel in the future.

And remember, Planet Fitness has a reputation for being unforgiving when it comes to early cancellations contracts, so be ready to pay up if you want to leave early.

In the meantime, we encourage you to check out a pair of articles we wrote about gym memberships. You’ll get a very brief overview of four of the most popular gyms (Planet Fitness is included), as well as some background on the gym industry and some eye-opening statistics about gym members.

The information you learn in those articles will help you become a smarter consumer and, hopefully, someone who makes the right choice about their gym membership!

Also, be sure to check out our reviews of LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness.

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18 Consumer Reviews for Planet Fitness

Average Consumer Rating: 2.0
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 2 1 star:  12
Bottom Line: 22% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 18
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Worst gym ever

    • Phoenix, AZ,
    • Nov 6, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Worst gym, bad staff, and the club is dirty. Also, they don’t care about anything, and when trying to cancel, they won’t do it over the phone, even when I can't physically go to the gym due to medical reasons.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Don’t give out you credit card information

    • Wichita Falls, TX,
    • Nov 3, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    So my experience, don’t give out your credit card info to Planet Fitness, just look at the ratings. When the manager is 12 and has no experience and every word she says is "unfortunately," then you have a problem. So in the few days, I called about canceling my account. I have $21, then another $42 taken out if my account. If you have circumstances that you cannot physically drive to Planet Fitness, then you have to write a letter. Ok.

    So read all these reviews.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Rip-off

    • Milton, GA,
    • Sep 22, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Planet Fitness ripped off my college-age son. They told him he could join for the summer at the advertised “No Commitment” $10/month level, and then cancel when school started to avoid the yearly fee, as long as he canceled by 8/31/18. When he went to the Planet Fitness Milton GA location to cancel, on 8/31/18, they told him, “Oh, sorry, we already sent in our financials for the month, last week.” Well, well, imagine that. Reporting early, just before the end of the month. Such diligent employees. I wonder how many other people this “early” submission affected? When my son reminded the Planet Fitness representative of the agreement that he could cancel on or before 8/31/18, he was told that he would just have to take that up with his bank and try to get it charged back.

    So out of frustration, I posted on Twitter about our experience. Planet Fitness replied:

    8:42 PM - 18 Sep 2018

    That is not what we like to hear! We always want to provide our members with all of the info that is necessary to cancel. We’d like to invite you to reach out to the management team at your home club, they’ll be the best to help resolve your concerns. Thank you!

    I replied:

    10:28 AM - 20 Sep 2018

    Sorry you don’t like to hear it. And thanks for the invitation, but he already tried that. They offered no help at all. Told him he would have to deal with it through his bank. We plan to share our experience via every ratings means available.

    So, with no further response, we’re sharing. Buyer beware. Our experience is, you cannot trust what Planet Fitness tells you about your contract. The No Commitment $10/month sounds great. But, as usual, when something sounds too good to be true, it is. Short-sighted scammers like Planet Fitness count on the fact that most people have lives and families and work, and therefore won’t have time to waste fighting to get back a lousy $40 or $50 or whatever your yearly fee is. You’ll pay it, maybe grumble a bit about it, but Planet Fitness will end up with your money. Count on it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    • Champaign, IL,
    • Sep 19, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I went in to work out and start a membership. I only need it for three months. They want to charge a $60 new membership fee, plus $10 a month, plus charge me an annual membership fee of $30 starting November 1st. So for 2 and 1/2 months of working out, they wanna charge me $120. I thought they were supposed to be the cheapest center in town. And they don’t cater to students who only need a membership for a few months. They want to charge you for a whole year's membership. I will never go here!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Planet Fitness experience with free unlimited trainer Carlos Zarate

    • Nevada,
    • Sep 16, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    As far as gyms go, I've been a member of several in Law Vegas including LVAC and 24 Hour Fitness. I joined Planet Fitness a few months ago and am loving it there. Not only is it affordable for anybody the personal trainer at my location on Sahara and Nellis named Carlos Zarate has been a huge help. He keeps me motivated and has trained with me to reach my goals. At other gyms, I felt as if I was just going through the motions. Here, I am pushing myself, setting goals and reaching them. Carlos has shown me what I need to do to get to where I want to be and anytime I need help he has been there. At other gyms, I've asked for assistance and had to wait, and wait and wait. Carlos Zarate has been very informative and is probably the reason I am sticking with my work out plan! Planet Fitness has all the equipment I need and is a friendly environment. I love it there!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    AC very frequently out of order

    • Moreno Valley, CA,
    • Aug 18, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have not been a gym member for a lot of years, and my body showed it. I was looking for a convenient, judgment-free option near my new home, as I had just moved to Moreno Valley, California. Planet Fitness was quite close, and they have plenty of equipment. The place appeared to be in pretty good working order, and they are open 24 hours a day.

    Unfortunately, my local Planet Fitness is not a good place to work out. I have been a member for three months, and the problems are numerous. First and foremost, the AC has gone out at least three times in just three months! And it usually takes a week or more for them to fix it! Meanwhile, even a moderate workout is a total sweat bath, even if I go early in the morning. Lesser problems include dirty locker rooms and poor supervision of the members. Members take their gym bags onto the floor, despite a safety policy against it. Members go into the 30-minute-workout area and fail to move from one station to the next prompt.

    Instead, they settle in on a machine and work out on that one machine as they own it, despite signs on the wall clearly forbidding this behavior. The employees say nothing, even when they see what is happening. I am glad I got the no-commitment monthly membership, because I am seriously considering switching to a gym twice as far away and more expensive, to get a better environment.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Horrible customer service

    • Kitchener, Ontario, Canada,
    • Jul 4, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    One horrible place to go to. Their employees, they are all nice, until they get your bank details and money. However, they do not want to treat their members with respect whatsoever after.

    My membership was canceled on April 29, 2018 (I have the proof on canceling it as of this date too) and for two months in a row, the money was being debited without my knowledge. When I asked them for a refund of my money, Josh (supervisor/manager) said that I have to wait for my money that was taken out of my account without my permission for 12-15 business days, this is called daylight robbery. How is this even fair? This is horrible customer service.

    There is not even another person I could talk to in that place who can resolve a simple issue. And also their BS about the 30-day notice to cancel the membership was not advised while signing up. I went through the contract and it does not talk about the 30-day notice to cancel the membership. I am sure I am not the only one who has had this experience. I do not recommend this place. These guys are true scammers.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Nightmare cancellation

    • Miami, FL,
    • Jul 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I tried to cancel my membership on-site and over the phone and always they found an excuse. They charged me $150.09 because I refuse to pay for the last two months.

    Never again Planet Fitness.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Not satisfied

    • Binghamton, NY,
    • Jun 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I joined Planet Fitness for one year. I called the gym and told the lady I will not continue for another year because I cannot afford it, and she told me I have to come in person. She did not tell me that they will charge me another fee if I didn't come exactly a year, and they did charge my bank another $39 after my deadline.

    I am warning people out there that this is a catch and please spread it so this doesn't happen to more people because I will let my Facebook friends know about this. Not fair, it says one year, not two.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    No such thing as a free lunch.

    • Rogers, AR,
    • Jun 22, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have belonged to Planet Fitness in Melbourne, Florida and now in Rogers, Arkansas. Can't beat the price. Can't beat the hours. Equipment has always been adequate.

    Bad points: Music sucks and too many people use weight machines as lounge chairs as they text.

    Worst bad thing: I just tried to cancel my membership before relocating to another city. Late at night, the guy at the desk said the computers were down. In the day I learned that I had to pay a buy-out fee equal to about six months of payments. I did not recall being told of that requirement when I joined. Because my annual membership was ending in two months, I just tried to cancel my membership at the end of the year. They said no. The guy at the desk said I had to come in during the last month to cancel.

    If it were not for their shameful policy of preventing members from closing their membership, I would give Planet Fitness at least a 4-star rating. But, I hate con artists and companies that try to steal from their customers, so they get one star and a warning to those who might join.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Easy to join/difficult to leave

    • Washington,
    • Jun 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was one of the first members at the Renton location. I signed up in April of 2011 and I have paid them $1,630 in fees. I recently moved out of the area. When I called to cancel my membership, I was told that I had to come in in-person or send a certified letter in the mail to cancel. I was told that if I refused to pay, my dues would accrue and be sent to collection. After 7 years of loyal membership, I found their refusal to let me cancel over the phone after moving out of the area to be unimpressive.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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