Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Planet Profit

So, there has been a lot of talk in the fitness industry about Planet Fitness and their whole advertising campaign as of late. They have a line of commercials portraying some stereotypical bodybuilders in a less-than friendly light.

Frankly, I think it's pretty damn insulting. If Cressey Performance or Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning was to put out a commercial showing them leading an obese person out the door, suggesting that this wasn't the place for them, the shit would hit the proverbial fan.

Fat people would be lined up around the block complaining that this was discrimination, and they should be allowed to work out wherever they want, they are just like everybody else, etc etc. Which is all totally, true, mind you. I think any "fitness" club should allow anyone to work out wherever they please; I don't even agree with women's only facilities. I've worked out in a lot of gyms in my life, and I rarely have seen a situation where a guy was really leering at a girl.

I can't help but feel like Planet Fitness's real intention is not Fitness, but revenue. As this article states, Gym Rat Control, they are run by a very shrewd businessman. The whole idea is that they target people who are not, shall we saw, fitness enthusiasts. These are people that "want" to have a gym membership but know they will rarely use it; so they go buy the $10 per month membership. This allows them to feel good about having a membership, but they also won't cancel when they don't use it because it is only $10 per month. This way, Planet Fitness gets TONS of members who never use the gym and will never cancel their monthly. Boom, instant revenue.

By excluding gym rats, i.e. people who will actually use their membership, they cut out the costs that are involved with a gym that gets heavy usage: cleaning, more staff, equipment. In terms of a business model, its a great idea. As it relates to fitness; its awful.

There is a saying in sports, "to get better, play against people that are better than you." If you only play against people you know you can beat, your game never gets better. If you go down and play against some guys who dunk on you and drill 3's in your eye all day, your game will step itself up. If you only work out in a gym full of fat people, you will never really get fitter. If you are working out around people that are bigger, stronger and leaner than you then maybe you will find some new motivation. Maybe you can <gasp> ask them for help, and can learn something new! Being the fittest person in a gym full of fat people is like winning a gold medal at the special olympics.

Now, go lift something heavier than anyone else in your gym!

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