Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No Deadlifts Allowed


So this is a real advertisement that uber gym chain Planet Fitness is running right now.  The point of the ad, I think, is to show you that Planet Fitness isn't a gym for steroid-soaked musclebound lunkheads, but instead, is a gym for regular Joes and Janes like you, and me.  I get why you would air an ad like this.  Starting a workout regimen can be scary, and it's even more nerve-wracking to think that guys like the fellow featured in this ad will be working out right next to you, and probably judging you.  While Planet Fitness risks alienating a portion of their potential customer base- people who really enjoy lifting weights- they hope to attract even more casual gym goers.

The ads aren't the only steps Planet Fitness has taken to attract the non-Schwarzeneggers of the world.  Apparently, at Planet Fitness, you are not allowed to grunt whilst you lift weights.  You are also not allowed to judge others (I'm not sure how this is quantified, but it isn't allowed, so there).  You are also not allowed to do certain weightlifting exercises- like deadlifts, and clean and jerks.

And that's where Planet Fitness loses me.  I don't like this ad.  I don't like the idea that a gym would purposefully try to alienate anyone who is generally dedicating themselves to improving their strength and health.  In my experience, most serious weightlifters don't grunt too much, and don't really judge you.  In fact, most serious weightlifters will help out a casual weightlifter in pinch.  Most of the people who judge you at the gym are jerks who don't actually know what they're doing, and there really aren't that many of them.

I really don't like that Planet Fitness forbids you from doing deadlifts, clean and jerks, etc.  Why?  Because those are really good exercises!  The deadlift is one of the best exercises you can do for overall strength.  What that policy, and this ad say to me is that Planet Fitness doesn't give a rat's behind about your health- what they care about is your money.

Do you know why gyms love casual gym goers? Because casual gym goers usually don't use their memberships.  They know they should work out, sign up for a 12 month membership at a gym, go regularly for about a week, then promptly stop going. This means the gym is getting 11.5 months worth of dues at no real cost.

Of course statistically, someone who uses a product regularly is more likely to renew their membership/subscription to said product.  So I'm sure the Planet Fitnesses of the world lose a pretty good chunk of potential membership renewals by targeting the casual gym goer and not the gym regulars.  I'm also sure that they make up for that loss with the raft of new members they sign up each year on New Year's Day, and a few weeks before swimsuit season.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Planet Fitness is a business.  The point of a business isn't to make a real difference in the life of a consumer- the point of a business is to make money.  While some businesses do actually make an effort to produce a good product that will make human life a little more worthwhile, others are content to take your money in exchange for what is actually an inferior product.

That's what I have to say on that topic.  If you need me, I'll be deadlifting.

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