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Planet Fitness: The Anti-Fitness Gym Insults the Personal Training Industry

Planet Fitness Truly is the Anti-Gym

Club Industry.com is reporting that Planet Fitness is discontinuing Personal Training at it’s clubs. (http://clubindustry.com/news/planet-fitness-grondahl-personal-training-20101209/)   Their reason for doing so has nothing to do with the economy.   As a Fitness Professional, I find their reasons for doing so appalling and insulting but before I get into that, let’s talk a bit about this anti-gym.

The fact that Planet Fitness is ending Personal Training does not surprise me and I do not view their actions as a trend.  They clearly are the anti-fitness gym.

Seriously, what do you expect from a gym that doesn’t allow it’s members to grunt during their workout?  How can a Personal Trainer properly do their job to motivate and encourage their client to really challenge and push themselves harder if the client isn’t allowed to grunt or the trainer can’t raise his/her voice and say “You can do it!” breaking it’s “lunk alarm” rules.

Yes, Planet Fitness truly is the Anti-Fitness “Gym”

As a Fitness Professional I am appalled and quite frankly insulted on how Planet Fitness devalues what we do as a profession and what we do for the fitness industry.

The reasons for discontinuing Personal Training at Planet fitness was put out in a statement by it’s CEO, Mike Grondahl.

Let’s take their reasoning behind this decision:

“Too many trainers are pushing PT on our members, the vast majority of whom have zero interest in it.” First of all, if the Personal Trainers aren’t encouraging the members to have the experience of working with a Personal Trainer, how are the PT’s supposed to earn a living?  Also, doesn’t the facility make money from PT?  Could it be that the reason why the majority of Planet Fitness members have zero interest in discovering the benefits of what a PT can do for them is because Planet Fitness really doesn’t encourage it’s members the resources to live a fit and healthy lifestyle?

Most gyms encourage their Fitness Professionals to approach it’s members and let them know about the benefits a Personal Trainer can provide them with towards not only improving their overall health and fitness, but teaching them how to workout safely, effectively and efficiently.

Grondahl began the letter by claiming that most people doing personal training are “just renting friends.”  …” who the hell needs a friend for 50 bucks an hour?”  “For us to be selling personal training is a fraud and downright condescending to anyone who can breathe,” he wrote.

Is what we do fraud!!?? Really??!!  Am I nothing more than just a “rent a friend” to my clients? Do I offer no value to my clients?  Is that what a therapist is to someone seeking advice or guidance on how to overcome personal/emotional problems?  What about those who do life coaching?

If you really want to take the “rent a friend” one step further, Mr. Grondahl, you may as well compare us to what “escorts” do minus the sex.  Essentially, what you’re saying is that we are being paid solely to give someone attention for an hour and make them feel all warm and fuzzy.

Seriously, not only is this whole thing insulting to the Profession of Personal Training, but the clients who pay for our services and value we provide towards improving someone’s quality of life, possibly saving a life, by improving their health and fitness.

My friends in the health and fitness industry, please share your comments and opinions on this story.

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  1. 21 Comment(s)

  2. By Aleta | Reply

    I’ve never paid for a PT but I don’t think it’s like renting a friend. If it was like renting a friend, I could say, “Hey lets quit this and go have a beer.” My friend would say “Heck yeah.” My trainer would say something like “How are you going to achieve the results you want by doing that?”

    I think PT are pretty valuable. I mean look at “Biggest Loser”. Jillian Michaels has inspired a lot of people with her style.

    Maybe a PT isn’t for everyone but comparing it to renting a friend is a crock.

  3. By sharifitness | Reply

    Aleta
    Thank your for your comment. Your remarks are spot on 🙂

  4. By David | Reply

    YO! This is the craziest thing that I’ve heard in a looooong time … “renting friends” … I don’t know of many friends that help you get off medication, learn to eat better, assist you with your clothes fitting better, change your outlook on life, and guide you towards experiencing total health and wellness. His statements are downright reckless! That’s why there are countless people entering gyms, walking/running/lifting without a clue and why they give up after a few months of not seeing results. Let’s put the word out!

    Be GREAT & Keep’m FIT,

    David

  5. By sharifitness | Reply

    David, THANK YOU for adding your comments to this story and yes, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am just insulted and offended. Please share this story with your fitness friends. As we embark on a New Year, many people will be looking for a facility to improve their health and fitness and clearly, this is NOT a place that promotes that!!!

  6. By Fadi Malouf | Reply

    I think I’d rather be called an “escort” lol…

    Aleta said it best. Personally as a professional training/coach for 15 years I prefer small group training of 2 to 4 clients in an hour session. This keeps cost down, increases accountability, promotes team work and keeps it fun!

    For most, Plant Fitness has never had an extraordinary personal training system/program just like most PT Clients never experience a committed and knowledgeable fitness expert. Plant Fitness’s reaction is simply a cry out for help!!

    Great article Shari! Thank you for the share and commitment to making the world a better place!

    Fadi Malouf

  7. By Julie Goodale | Reply

    Given the number of questions and emails I get asking about various aspects of fitness, his statement that people have zero interest is clearly wrong. There’s a great need for good, reliable information. All you really need to do is take a look around many gyms at the number of people doing inefficient and sometimes dangerous exercises to understand that there is a need. And all the people paying good trainers for quality information are certainly not just “renting friends”, but are interested in improving their lives.

    I work largely with cancer survivors and other special needs clients. I know there has also been an issue with PF for cancer patients. They have a ban on headscarves and hats (or at least they used to). They do not make exceptions for cancer patients. Working out in a wig is not very comfortable, and many survivors are not comfortable being out in public bald. PF’s policy directly discourages cancer survivors from trying to stay fit in spite of their disease.

    Thanks for writing this post.

  8. By sharifitness | Reply

    Thanks for your comment. If Planet Fitness wants to discontinue Personal Training services in their gyms, that is their right to do so. What I strongly disagree with is how he has belittled and disrespected our profession and industry.

    You and I both know that yes, while there may be some bad apples out there (ie, a Fitness Professional vs. a “Trainer”) do classify what we do as “fraud” and “rent a friends” simply put is appalling and offensive.

    Fadi, keep doing what you do helping not only to improve the health and fitness of your clients, and inspire them to be the best they can be in mind, body and spirit 🙂

    Fitness love to you my friend.

  9. By sharifitness | Reply

    Julie
    Health and Fitness is in the top 3 niches that people are seeking information and health on and although Planet Fitness certainly has a right to discontinue providing PT services on their facility, they are certainly doing their members a huge disservice.

    For him to come out and say what we do is “fraud” and we are nothing more than “rent a friend” is shows ignorance on his part.

    What I do find even more appalling and offensive is how they treat cancer survivors.

    I guess the only thing this anti-fitness gym knows how to say “yes” to is pizza and tootsie rolls.

  10. By john | Reply

    First: this guy’s nothing more than a con artist! How in the world can you have a gym, without grunting? He calls planet fitness a gym, but he’s just making money off the ignorance of his customers!
    Second: Anyone with half a brain knows that a “coach/advisor” is not your “friend”, not at 50 bucks an hour!
    Third: anyone who goes to “planet nitwit” needs mental health more than a PT!

  11. By Maria | Reply

    Mr. Grondahl is a tool! I’m the Fitness Director at Bally Total Fitness down the road from PF and I do occasionally workout there…simply because I can lift uninterrupted without anyone coming to ask me questions in the gym. Everytime I am there and glance around, the members are so clueless on what they are doing and how to get an efficient and effective workout done. I feel sorry for them because they are really not making the most out of their gym time (and they look ridiculous!). Some members even look like they are going to injure themselves! If any gym needs Personal Trainers to help out these newbies…it is this place! What a joke…

  12. By Guy | Reply

    Im a PF member and have never heard of anyone sounding off a alarm for grunting. I feel the personal trainers play a important role, to loose them would be a great lose to the membership and a mistake on managements part.

  13. By Budd | Reply

    I don’t know if you have heard or seen the “Planet Fitness is not your gym” ads, but I think they just want to be a cardio gym.

  14. By sharifitness | Reply

    @John
    What can I say. I’ve not hear anything positive about PF. The comments coming from the CEO of a well known establishment called “Planet Fitness” is down right irresponsible and is a far cry from what a place called “Planet Fitness” should be. It’ is anything BUT fitness.

    Thanks for your comment
    Shari

  15. By sharifitness | Reply

    Guy
    From my understanding, if you “grunt” the “Lunk Alarm” goes off and a PF employee will give you a warning about grunting before being kicked out.

    Personally, when I’m working out with focus and intensity, I find it difficult not to let out a low grunt here and there.

    As for their decision to discontinue personal training, that is their decision to make as a company but I don’t feel that they needed to insult those who are Fitness Professionals as a profession or the industry.

    Thank you for sharing your comments on this story.

    ~Shari

  16. By sharifitness | Reply

    Budd,
    I have not seen the latest Planet Fitness commercials but I have heard about them and how they are stereotyping “bodybuilders” as being dumb.

    I can easily search for their commercials on You Tube.

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

    Shari

  17. By Al Kavadlo | Reply

    Good post, Shari. Planet Fitness is clearly trying to market themselves toward people who are not at all serious about fitness.

    I suspect that the company will go bankrupt in the near future, but on the other hand, they may do well with this approach. After all, there are a lot of people who want to join a gym but don’t really want to work out.

  18. By sharifitness | Reply

    Hi Al
    Thank you for commenting on this article. While it’s true that there are people who join a gym who are not serious about improving their health and fitness and use the gym as a social club, then those are the kinds of members PF will retain.

    However, most people truly want to improve their health and fitness and for those who are really committed towards achieving their health and fitness goals will quickly come to the realization that PF is not a facility that supports those goals and will take their business elsewhere.

    I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this story.

    ~Shari

  19. By Tabby | Reply

    Shari, I agree with you and what you have to say. I do belong to planet fitness because this is the gym I can afford. I do not have a personal trainer because it is something that at this time I can not afford. I would love to work out with a personal trainer and have use the trainers that planet fitnes has had. I enjoy the time that I was able to work out with them and the valuable information they provide. I think for him to say that what you do is like renting a friend is a disservice to you and people who are looking to workout. The information that planet fittness trainers have provided has help me greatly and I am sad to learn that they are being done away with.

  20. By Nelson | Reply

    WOW… and just to think I wrote you an hour ago about PTs and I come across this! I think I had a PT from PF, because he did nothing for me except talk! I know what it is like to be a PF gym member without even belonging to PF! Thanks Shari for bring this to my attention! I had a PT from PF and a member of ____ Fitness.

  21. By Elmore McConnell | Reply

    Planet Fitness and gym like Planet Fitness are just preaching that if you join you won’t be judged with doing the bare minimum. They are a business just like any other Fitness facility what they want and need is members, they’ve mastered that getting implementing a quality Personal Fitness Program they still don’t have a clue. Great Business plan though bash the competition!

  22. By Mark LeBlanc | Reply

    I agree with the commentary of the author! The CEO of PF should be ashamed of his comments. I am a personal trainer and I provide a valued service to my clients. I motivate, educate and help them reach their goals. I listen to them and give feedback. Mr Grondahl is clearly out of touch with fitness. ANYONE who has ever been associated with working out and fitness would clearly understand the value of motivation and accountability – two of the many reasons to hire a trainer! I am also a member of PF as of now. I will cancel my membership and no longer promote them as a gym. Hard to get behind a gym that is run by someone who devalues and insults my profession like their CEO does!

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