Photo credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/13805965795/sizes/l
When I heard that Planet Fitness was on its way to Traverse City, I decided to try it out. When I bought my membership, what I had in my head about PF was that it caters to people who don’t like to workout, memberships are cheap, and it’s been in the news for some controversial things.
The day arrived, and I headed over to PF-Traverse City to try out my membership.
First things first. I notice that PF members are different. They’re friendly and they smile at each other. The mood is upbeat. There’s not a white tank top in sight, and I didn’t see one person make a muscle in a mirror in the three hours I was there.
I see lots of people that I don’t think I would see at other gyms, myself included. I think this is only partially because PF markets itself to people that aren’t comfortable going to other gyms (and I place myself in that category).
I think the other part is economic. Memberships at PF are inexpensive, and this probably allows people to join that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a gym membership. You have to give PF credit for both identifying this business opportunity and meeting the need for this type of client.
The gym is clean, and it’s big. I mean big, especially compared to the size of other gyms in Traverse City. Even when things picked up around 5 p.m. the exercise machines were no more than a quarter full. Personally, I would have liked to see fewer exercise machines and a corner section dedicated to exercise balls, bands and tiny weights.
They offer paper towels to wipe off the machines after use. The paper towels don’t work very well. They ought to offer cloth towels as well, and just change them out often to keep them looking neat.
There is a stretch room that’s pretty good. They have personal mats, which are good, but they are too small for comfortable stretching. There’s a ballet-type barre for stretching and a full stretch machine.
After my weight lifting, I like to have a snack and take a 10-minute phone break before my cardio. I ate my snack in the locker room before I realized that they have a comfortable sitting area with tables, chairs, and sofa chairs near the entrance. There are also bleacher-type benches near the locker rooms that would have been more comfortable than eating my snack in the locker room. I’ll remember this for next time.
So I had my snack and then I headed for a treadmill. There are large TVs that span the cardio machines and about 8 total stations to choose from. My options are talking heads on CNN and Fox News, a middle-aged couple having sex on OWN and Dr. Phil. I choose Dr. Phil and I hope no one notices. Despite PF’s no judgment policy, I can’t blame anyone for judging me for choosing Dr. Phil.
PF doesn’t have a time limit on the cardio machines, so 30 minutes later I’m watching the always stunning Kristen Lowe on Upnorthlive news at 5. The middle-aged couple is still having sex on OWN (now you’re just showing off), and CNN has failed to deliver the exit poll data they’ve been promising me for the last 20 minutes, so I’m sticking with local news.
The cardio machines are pretty intuitive to use. All the machines are new and in working condition. The purple and yellow color scheme is pretty uplifting, even two hours in. It beats the hum-drum, lack of color in so many other gyms.
There are a few glitches to work out (pun intended): First, the sinks in the women’s locker room. One of them only dribbles and another only spits out uncomfortably hot water. The black card spa room isn’t open yet, but I’m glad they didn’t hold back opening day to get it done. I’d appreciate a second clock on the back wall in the main gym area.
I’d prefer the locker rooms to have changing rooms and showers in single units. As it is, you have to scamper across the locker room after your shower to get to a dressing room. I didn’t see or hear anyone else use a shower the three hours I was there, so I don’t think the showers are a popular attraction, but I’d prefer not to have the logistical issue of carrying my things across the aisle while I’m wrapped in a towel. Speaking of towels, I’d also like to see them offer a towel service. (Can you make a super black membership that has this?) That would be better than carrying wet towels in my bag after each visit.
All in all, my impression of PF is that it is what it claims to be – a place where everyone is welcome to come and improve. It delivers a lot of gym for a little cost. Now that there’s a PF in Traverse City, our community is a little bit more inclusive, diverse and fun.