The Planet Fitness Survival Guide

An expert guide to traversing the Planet of Fitness.

In a partnership for the ages, Wisconsin’s favorite department store is teaming up with America’s least-expensive gym. Kohl’s has announced that they’ll be leasing space in ten of their stores to Planet Fitness. New PFs are popping up all over this state, and if there’s a new one in your neighborhood, you might be considering one of the amazingly cheap $10 monthly memberships. If so, here’s what you need to know for your first visit.

24 Hours

The best thing about Planet Fitness after the price is the hours. You can literally go there at anytime. If you’re a late-night lat-ripper or a Jocko Willink four-in-the-morning delt-destroyer, this is the place for you. Show up in the wee small hours, and you’ll have the whole place to yourself.

Pizza Mondays

Most gyms don’t smell like the alley behind a Domino’s. Planet Fitness achieves this rare scent by combining the usual aroma of sweaty gym socks with that of fifty boxes of pizza. Yes sir, Planet Fitness brings in pizza on the first Monday of every month. And it’s real weird. Eating a fat slice of Meat Lover Supreme after a hard round on the treadmill feels borderline sinful, but hey, it’s free. Keep this promotion in mind, when scheduling your workouts.

Bagel Tuesdays

I’m sure you can figure this one out based on the last one. They also do free bagels on the second Tuesday of the month. Personally, I like to hit the gym fourteen times on Bagel Tuesday wearing various wigs, in order to stockpile carbohydrates for the winter. With all this free food, you’ll be shedding pounds in no time.

No Free Weight Bench or Squat

Do you consider yourself a big lifter fella? Do you pound protein shakes like two-for-one margaritas at happy hour? Do you agree that Bro Science is both the funniest and the best channel on YouTube? Then I have to warn you that Planet Fitness might not be the place for you, the biggest reason being that they do not have free weight bench press or squat racks. You have to use a Smith machine. I know. I’m sorry. Trust me, I’ve heard all about the stabilization muscles that aren’t activated when you’re using a fixed barbell, and I know that the bar weighs 25 pounds less than a normal one, and I know that all your weight-lifting friends are going to mock you endlessly for using the Smith machine, but that’s all Planet Fitness has for you. If your soul hurts at the thought of using one, then you might be in trouble.

Photo by Archer Parquette

Lunk Alarm

For the first few weeks you spend Fitnessing at the Planet, you might think the huge “Lunk Alarm” sign on the wall, warning against “one who grunts, drops weights, or judges” is just a joke, but then that thing goes off with a hellish roar and a flash of blue light, and you realize that they’re for real. This air ride siren is normally set off if a lifter grunts with a little too much relish or drops a weight a little too hard. It’ll get heads turning, as new gym members wonder if there’s a fire or perhaps nuclear war is breaking out. Then they realize the screaming whir was just because Ricky was getting a little too spicy with his deadlifts. Depending on the anti-lunk enthusiasm of your PF’s manager, you should be aware that if you enjoy dropping the occasional grunt, you might just be labeled a Lunk.

The Black Card

There’s the regular $10 Planet Fitness membership, the best friend of the financially minded gym-lover, but then there’s the top-of-the-line $22.99 Black Card membership. This lets you use their massage chairs, tanning beds, and hydromassage. It also lets you bring in guests and get half off on cooler drinks. So if you’re desperate for a massage chair, you’ll have to shell out that Black Card money.

Before signing off, I’d like to provide you with a brief list of unpleasant habits to avoid once you begin attending Planet Fitness.

Please don’t:

  1. Make strange potentially sexual noises while curling twenty pounds and staring straight into the mirror.
  2. Engage in unwanted conversation with anyone who has their headphones in.
  3. Stare at people in the mirror/make unwanted, intense eye contact with said people in the mirror
  4. Flex after every exercise. I understand that you might want to flex for a quick pic – I mean, just look at those triceps – but come on, please, limit yourself. There’s no need to hit a pose after every set.
  5. Leave the equipment sweaty/swampy. Planet Fitness provides spray bottles and paper towels for a reason, ya filthy animals.
  6. Eat the free pizza in between sets/get cheese on the dumbbells.
  7. Leave your locker unlocked (this one’s for your sake, pal. Stay secure).
  8. Take up a spot on a popular piece of equipment for half an hour, because you take a ten-minute Instagram-surfing break between every set.
  9. Work out abnormally close to someone you do not know.
  10. Repeatedly show other lifters how their technique is incorrect and subsequently engage them in an impromptu training session which they did not request or require.

Keep all that in mind, and you’ll be traversing the Planet of Fitness like an expert in no time.



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.