Planet Fitness, and exercise snobbery

In the news this week was a story about Planet Fitness, and how they have banned a member who complained about a trans woman using the women’s locker room.

I have a few misgivings about Planet Fitness (as with most things, there’s usually a problematic angle), but on this I have to applaud them. They did the right thing – not just “IMHO” but straight up. And it feels apt to be writing this on International Women’s Day, a day when we should all remember that trans women are women, and moreover face more discrimination & danger than cis women in many aspects of their lives.

This story got me thinking about PF, and how I used to basically think it was the most rubbish gym company ever. These days, my main misgiving about Planet Fitness is that they sponsor The Biggest Loser, and I’m not going to go into why that’s problematic (if you’re not already aware, a quick Google will tell you why TBL is terrible). But in the past I thought PF were pathetic because they ban deadlifts and grunting, and have “Lunk Alarms” to alert staff when someone is being a, well, lunk.

Obviously I used to think this was crap (in fact, I probably used to think it was “lame”, before I addressed my use of that word). I love deadlifts, who wouldn’t love deadlifts? I also grunt in the gym, a LOT – I grunt loads in my powerlifting gym, and in the commercial gym where I do my conditioning (I think I’m often the only woman there to do so) No deadlifts and no grunting? What sort of exercise place is this?

Image from planetfitness.com

Image from planetfitness.com

Then I grew the fuck up and stopped being such a judgemental arse.

PF prides itself on being a “judgement-free zone” and nowadays I see everything that’s right about that. OK, so you can’t deadlift there, so what? You can deadlift in hundreds of thousands of gyms worldwide. You do not HAVE to go to PF to deadlift. But if people want to go to a gym where people aren’t grunting or acting like judgemental meatheads, then PF is the only place to go.

Think of it like women-only spaces (trans-inclusive of course): men can go where the hell they want otherwise, why is it so painful for some men to be excluded from these spaces? If you want to grunt up a storm, just go to any other gym. It’s that simple.

Personally I wouldn’t go to PF because I’m so used to grunting and dropping weights (never squats or deadlifts though, ofc!) that I wouldn’t fit in there. But that doesn’t mean I have to be a jerk and protest or laugh at PF’s existence. I can go somewhere else! NBD!

Image from lgbtplusbristol.org.uk

Image from lgbtplusbristol.org.uk

Don’t mock people who don’t exercise the way you do. Don’t mock people who enjoy exercise you don’t. And definitely don’t mock people who don’t exercise. Remember the Underpants Rule. And MYOB in the changing room.

I won’t deny that I’m not perfect – I’m still a work in progress and I still catch myself sometimes dealing with unhandled internalised misogyny, fatphobia & ableism (how many times did I have to stop myself typing “lame” in this entry?!). But I think that’s true of most of us, and we can all work a bit harder.

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One thought on “Planet Fitness, and exercise snobbery

  1. G

    I’ve been having similar thoughts about PF too (and the locker room issue is icing on the cake). Any place people can go and move and feel welcome is a good place. There’s so much gym shaming, and shaming of people in gyms. I hope folks find that PF is a comfortable place they can move and feel good.

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