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Planet Fitness Markets Itself as the Gym for Weaklings

The gym I work out at – a local franchise that shall go nameless – is small, smelly, and screams late 1980s, but at least it doesn’t frown upon bodybuilding like Planet Fitness. I’m not afraid to admit it: I’m anything but a heavily muscular dude. But I do know the persistence, hard work and education involved in sculpting one’s body into a work of art. Planet Fitness seems to be at odds with the bodybuilding community, recently airing a commercial that casts weightlifters as numbskull idiots. If you haven’t seen the new spot, it features a Planet Fitness employee giving a tour of one of its facilities to an insanely chiseled man who has nothing to say but “I lift things up and put them down.”  Funny, right? Maybe in an SNL skit from 1991 (see Hans and Franz.)

Planet Fitness

I get it, okay. Planet Fitness isn’t necessarily ridiculing all bodybuilders. Some of them are airheads; I’m not that humorless. What I take issue with is the fact that not only is Planet Fitness making fun of a significant portion of the fitness center demographic (not the best marketing strategy, and I work in advertising), but it’s implying that getting in shape is some kind of thing you can only achieve with fancy equipment and trendy programs. New flash: You don’t need to plug into the fitness center’s mainframe to work out. Did Jack LaLanne, Bruce Lee or Arnold Schwarzenegger need purple weight machines to get in tip-top shape? While there is definitely a lot of work involved in getting fit (for one, form is crucial), you work out your muscles by – surprise — lifting things up and putting them down. Have you done a pushup or crunch lately? In order to work your body, you move it around, lifting it up, down, sideways, etc.

Watch the commercial. Which guy would you rather look like, seriously? The scrawny Planet Fitness dude or the moronic, yet insanely ripped bodybuilder? The commercial makes it seem that looking very muscular is a bad thing. Sure, the jacked guy in the commercial represents the extreme of bodybuilding, but putting that kind of work and dedication into your health and body is never a bad thing. Check out some of the comments on the video and you’ll see a good deal of people also take issue with it. Here are just a few examples:

“Cause we all know being muscular makes you retarded…”

“why would anyone go to a sissy gym like that?”

“this brand was created to make weak people feel better about their weakness”

It seems that Planet Fitness wants to set itself apart as the gym for people who don’t want to work. If you’re fine with walking at 2.0 on the treadmill and lifting 10 pounds on the chest press, so be it. Just don’t be surprised when your hopes of losing fat and building muscle go down the drain. This commercial might put smaller people afraid of bodybuilders at ease, but it’s really just setting them up for disappointment. Be smart enough to realize that you’ll have to “lift things up and put them down” to get in shape. Flashy machines do not a fit person make. Wherever you choose to work out, Planet Fitness or Frank’s Fitness Fun Zone, it’s up to you to put in the work.

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About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.


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