Health clubs and fitness centers have been around for a long time. They range from the storefront body builder dens to the glamorous health and beauty spas and resorts. But by and large, the most common since around the 1970’s have been the larger chain or franchise fitness centers. Some of our readers will remember the Jack LaLanne and the Bally franchises. Now we have such franchises as Best Fitness and Planet Fitness. While we have heard good things about Best Fitness we have personal experience with Planet Fitness in a number of locations in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. This report is inspired by a reader comment about Planet Fitness in Glenmont, New York. The stats are: 97% of the people signing Planet Fitness “No Commitment” contract (“No commitment” contract??? What in hell is that?) drop out in the first 3 months but get to pay for 12 months!
We’d like to thank another Planet Fitness member for sharing this new PF Failure with us:
Just yesterday, April 17, 2018, I was at the Glenmont Planet Fitness. I started my workout and saw one of the 45 lb dumbbell sets were in use — there are normally 2 sets on the rack — but I didn’t see the second set on the rack and I didn’t see anyone using them. As usual, my first thought was that someone had used them elsewhere and didn’t both to put them back — the norm at the Glenmont PF, so I spent several minutes wandering around the gym searching for the second set. Returning to the dumbbell area I asked a gym bro’ if he had seen the other set. What he told me set my teeth on edge. He told me that the Glenmont PF had sent the entire second set of dumbbells to another club until that club received their new ones. That now puts the Glenmont club in a real inconvenient situation when members, like me, need the weights. This was a very poor management decision, like so many others at PF, and showed how little they care about members, especially the regulars who take their workouts seriously. I really don’t appreciate this incident — another among many. [Preferred to remain Anonymous]
Planet Fitness sells memberships not fitness, and they don’t give a damn about members or service.Planet Fitness a.k.a. Planet Failure
Our reader sent us the following about Planet Fitness in Glenmont:
“I’ve been working out for many years and have belonged to a number of health and fitness clubs over those years. I’ve worked out in bodybuilding gyms and in the larger franchise fitness centers in several states. I usually like the chain fitness centers because I travel and like the option of being able to use my membership in more than one location. I’ve lived in the Albany, New York area for several years and watched as the Bally operations closed down one by one. Then when Planet Fitness arrived in the area, it was close, convenient, and inexpensive…I thought. Naturally, because I travel, I wanted the convenience of a larger chain and facilities in most major areas, so I opted in for the Planet Fitness Black Card. Unfortunately, there’s no uniformity between Planet Fitness locations locally much less regionally. I’ve used Planet Fitness facilities in Guilderland (Crossgates Commons), East Greenbush, Saratoga (Wilton Mall), Albany (Glenmont), Brooklyn, Connecticutt and Massachusetts. Clearly, the bottom-feeder of them all is the Glenmont Planet Fitness. 75% brownish collar, 20% millennial zombies, 5% serious human beings. Not a very good mix, and it’s downright dangerous. Management doesn’t seem to care and the staff, well, when I write about millennial zombies, they have cornered the market with very few exceptions. All of the manager’s answers were wrong. After noting that he was totally indifferent I responded that maybe going public on the Internet would help. His response: “Do what you have to do” was not the right answer.”
Watch This Video
The comments were rather lengthy so we’ll just summarize a couple of the points made. We are including some of our own comments because we are familiar with Planet Fitness in Glenmont, so we can confirm some of the statements.
Poor Maintenance of Premises and Equipment. Toilets, urinals, showers, sinks can be out for literally weeks. I’ve actually observed some sanitary facilities to be out for more than 4 weeks before someone started repairing them. The roof is one of those warehouse metal roofs and when it rains, you’ll need a poncho, and a GPS to avoid the buckets and puddles throughout the exercise space. Equipment can be out of service for 4-12 weeks. Get used to the “Out of Order” signs. One really bizarre problem is the clocks! There are three or four clocks at the Glenmont location: In the front of the space, at the back of the space, one each in the men’s and women’s changing rooms. When in the middle or back of the exercise area you can’t see the clock in the front because of the huge fans and exposed ducts. The clock in the back was taken down during painting and wasn’t replaced for months, leaving only the clock in the front. When the clock was finally replaced, it wasn’t working. They changed the location the clock and it was working but there was about 3 hours difference between it and the other clocks. This went on for several months. They apparently finally replaced the battery or something but it took months.
Inept Management and Uninterested Staff. You know right away when someone has become indifferent to his job and uninterested. That’s the problem at the Glenmont Planet Fitness. The manager is a nice guy but totally useless when it comes to making management decisions or coping with problems. I have personally brought a number of problems to his attention but got nowhere. Most recently, I asked him to take care of an aggressive patron but got the impression he didn’t hear a word I was saying. I left my machine for a minute only to return to find someone had removed my towel and my water bottle which I left on the piece of equipment to show it was being used. He had removed my weights and made himself at home. I asked him what he was doing and why he had removed my stuff and he started to get aggressive (I actually thought he had a screw loose). Rather than get into a shouting match or worse, I took his suggestion and went to the front desk. The manager simply responded that I could not “reserve equipment.” “Reserve equipment,” I responded, “I went for a pee!” Still, he held his ground and I was apparently in the wrong, not the guy who clearly saw the equipment was being used but ignored the indications. I told the manager that there were many problems and that I had spoken to him before about dangerous conditions, including member behavior and not returning weights to the racks, working out without spotters, etc. I noted one occasion where two women had wheeled a very old woman in a wheelchair onto the weights floor and parked her in the middle of the workout area, between benches where people were working out with weights. I explained that I found that to be incredibly dangerous but that staff had ignored the situation. I told him I was so concerned, I took pictures of the situation. Rather than agree that the situation was outrageous, the manager told me that taking pictures in the club was not allowed for “privacy purposes.” When I noted that that couldn’t be true because everyone is constantly taking selfies on the exercise floor. He had no comment. Nothing was done. The pictures are shown below.
Indifference of Staff. Management is reflected in the performance of employees. The staff at the Glenmont Planet Fitness is constantly changing, with maybe 3-4 faces that have been around for a while. All very young, all very spaced out, none interested in what’s going on. They congregate at the front desk and when they are not chatting with one another they are staring out the front doors. Meanwhile, chaos and pandemonium is rampant on the exercise floor. No one supervises members, most of whom don’t know their asses from their elbows when it comes to how to safely use the equipment, and present a real danger to life and limb, both their own and ours, when they are “working out.” Even the resident “trainer” seems not to be interested in showing members how to use the equipment properly. Everyone seems to be on his or her own. It can get really scary, really dangerous. I have even had to leave a piece of equipment because some freak was taking out his aggressions throwing weights around. As I mentioned, the staff is busy doing their own things and avoiding any unnecessary movement, like telling people to clear their weight and put them away after use, or picking up after the slobs. Instead, weights are all over the place and are a real hazard when moving around the area. [Editor’s Note: We have actually addressed this problem and the problem of gym etiquette to management, suggesting that when they sign a member on, they should give a short course in gym etiquette including such things as putting weights back in the proper place, wiping down equipment after use, leaving benches where they are, not doing push-ups, sit-ups, stretching, etc. in the weights area but to use the areas provided for stretching. Needless to say, our suggestions fell on deaf ears.]
Here’s another comment we received:
“I changed banks and went in to advise PF (Glenmont) about the change. I brought along a sample voided check because they needed to scan it to change the billing. I explained to the manager, Dan, about the situation and how I wanted to change my billing account. He told me I could do that online. I asked why he couldn’t do it just as he did when I joined 2 years before. He told me that they had to wait to submit the next bill and have the bank refuse it. I told him that was crazy. He gave some lame excuse and repeated I should do it online. So I did it online. Next thing I know, I get a notice from the bank charging me $30 for a charge made on a closed account. I went to the manager again and asked what was going on and demanded that he fix it. He told me to wait. OK. I contacted the bank and told them this story. They told me to have PF make the changes. PF told me to have the bank fix it. All in all, by the time PF woke up, they had submitted the demand for payment THREE times and I got charged 3 x $30 = $90 plus my $20.00 payment = $110.00 because the PF manager at my club in Glenmont didn’t have the balls to make a call to his manager about the situation and PF would not do a couple of mouse clicks to make a simple billing change! Monkey management and no customer service!“
Cell Phones and Loud Conversations on the Exercise Floor. Bring your IPod but even that’s dangerous on the workout floor, because you can’t hear what’s going on around you. Besides, there’s music provided over the facilities’ system. But when it comes to real idiots, it’s the cellphone conversations all over the place, everyone shouting, every one in their own little idiot’s world. Then they stop midstep to take a selfie (Note: Manager says no photographing in the workout area; privacy.) The workout area is no place for cellphones and unsecured earphones! You have to say something three or more times, finally shouting, to get someone’s attention, even to tell them to be careful, they’re getting too close. Most of them have their eyes closed and dancing to the music!!! It’s CRAZY! [Editor’s Note: I have seen this and can verify the statement. Furthermore, I have used Planet Fitness locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts and there they have signs telling people that cell phones are not allowed in the work out areas. If you need to make a call you have to go to the café area or go outside. Problem solves…at least in CT and MA. NY appears to be backward, as usual. We found an article on Planet Fitness police regarding cell phones at Planet Fitness Cell Phone Policy Seems Loud and Clear. We don’t understand Why? this policy is not enforced or isn’t enforced in many Albany area clubs.]
General Free-for-all and Total Lack of Gym Etiquette. People just race back and forth to a piece of equipment and make themselves at home. They are apparently unaware of the fact that you’re standing right there between sets, but it doesn’t matter. They start rearranging the equipment right in front of you and then, when you tell them that you’re using the equipment, they get pissed! In other instances they sit for up to 20 minutes on a piece of equipment checking messages or answering texts before they even look at the weights. I have even seen them occupy a piece of equipment while I’m moving through 2 or 3 sets, then they just get up and walk to another piece of equipment and to the same thing. They just have no clue and no courtesy! In most gyms, there’s something called “gym etiquette.” If you see someone on a piece of equipment you understand he is using it. You wait. If you see a towel on a piece of equipment, you understand it’s being used. You wait. When you use weights you put them back in the proper place or you take the plates off the bar when you’re done and put them where they belong. Not at Planet Fitness in Glenmont. And management and staff don’t give a damn. You’re on your own, Baby!
There used to be a so-called Lunk Alarm. This was an alarm that when off when someone dropped weights or threw weights around, or was making a lot of noise when lifting. People tend to drop weights loudly or throw them around making loud abrupt noises. Other times they sound like a hippo giving birth. Weightlifting requires concentration and awareness; imagine you have 200 lbs over your chest and you have a car crash next to you. [Editor’s Note: Yes. I can confirm this.] Come to find out, the Lunk Alarm is activated from the front desk (see above, Management & Staff). The problem continues.
Total Disregard. Just sell memberships! It’s obvious that the franchise owner for the Glenmont Planet Fitness doesn’t give a damn, and neither does local management. The whole business model is SELL as many MEMBERSHIPS as possible, get their signatures on the contract, get their bank details, and then forget them. No orientation. No required training. No management. No one cares after you sign on the dotted line.
Sure, they’re cheap. $10 a month, $20 a month for Black Card. They do get you for a “membership initiation fee” of up to $50.00 in addition to the monthly fee. And every year they charge a continuation fee of about the same amount. Why a membership continuation fee? Who knows but it makes them money. I was very pissed when I read the contract and found out they were hitting me with that continuation fee while still collecting the membership dues each month. I just felt it was sneaky business and nickle-and-diming members but they must make a bundle doing it. To be sure it’s not going back into improving Planet Fitness services, at least not in Glenmont. [Editor’s Note: Confirming this.]
Like so many things in the Albany, New York, area, the scams and the substandard services are everywhere, ranging from local government to hospitality, to even health and fitness facilities that are anything but healthy. Our recommendation: Ask your club management if they’ve seen this article and what they’ve done to correct the issues our reader complains of. If you don’t get the right answers, try Best Fitness.
As one reader puts it: When God created the world the angels were handing out smiles but by the time they got to Albany they had run out of smiles so they started handing out assholes. That may explain a lot of things.
[Editor’s Note: There are a total of more than 770 ratings of PF on the above “Consumer Affairs” Site, 142 of which were made in the past 12 months.]
Watch These Other Videos about Planet Fitness!
We’ve reviewed these videos and they are right on target:
This is a reasonably honest portrayal of Planet Fitness by a gym bro. Listen closely; he makes a lot of sense. This video made me want to explore the many, many exposés of Planet Fitness on YouTube.
If you cut through the BS, you will get an idea of the type of manager and employees at Planet Fitness. Managers with fake personalities. Cliques among employees. You pay peanuts you get monkeys. Again we hear about employees doing their own things and not paying attention. This guy reveals some facts but is a typical Planet Fitness employee. The last several minutes are really hitting the nail on the head.
This is a sequel to the “5 Reasons” video above. The narrator gives PF a second chance but PF fails again. This guy points out some obvious but over looked PF BS.
When you look around PF, any PF, you see how little they care and how arbitrary their “polices” are and how useless their employees are! One reveiwer summarized PF as:
“Planet Fitness is a business…They are making a lot of money …They don’t care about members’ well-being.”
You can check out alternative health and fitness centers below: