Planet Fitness, the “not a gym” gym that’s “judgement free” and proud to be, has proved to be a more vital piece to our travel plan puzzle than we could have initially anticipated.
For those unfamiliar with Planet Fitness, I’ll give you some background. These yellow and purple monstrosities exist on the premise of creating a friendly, judgement-free workout experience for any and everyone who wants to get their fitness on. They have measures in place to help you avoid what they call “gymtimidation” such as a Lunk Alarm which is literally a siren that the staff sounds if they see someone slamming weights, grunting loudly, or generally being a lug head. They are known for having rows upon rows of cardio equipment (treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes), crazy low membership fees, free personal training-albeit fairly entry level, and a bucket of tootsie rolls at the front desk.
None of the aforementioned are reasons that we have fallen in love with this place (well, the tootsie rolls don’t hurt).
What really makes this gym a gem (heh) are the benefits that fall under their still reasonably priced, upgraded, Black Card membership. Black card holders are the VIPs of the Planet Fitness world. They’re the ones who get to use the tanning facilities and the massage chairs and bring a guest with them for an unlimited number of visits, and all of this for a low monthly fee of about $20/month.
When I first looked into getting a gym membership, it was under the premise of being able to workout consistently throughout the year. What I didn’t know was how immensely the other perks would help us along the way, and how vital to our personal hygiene routines this membership would be.
Here’s a list of the best PF perks and how all of this ties into Rogue Trip:
Nationwide Locations – Even though I enrolled in Planet Fitness during our first Rogue Trip Pit Stop in Jacksonville, FL, the Black Card membership allows me to use any of the 1200+ PF locations throughout the country. There are no limits to how many visits you get for a particular location; if you have Black Card, you are a member of every PF gym. This was arguably the most important factor in our decision to join PF over any other gym during Rogue Trip.
Unlimited Guest Privileges – Because the Black Card membership allows a member to bring a guest along with them for an unlimited amount of visits, Mitch and I only need one membership between us. As long as we go together every time, we’re good. Mitch just has to check in as my guest at the front desk each time. Easy peasy.
Showers and Bathrooms – Oh my Lord – Showers and Bathrooms – As much as we love Odie the Odyssey, one of his shortcomings is that he is not equipped with a restroom. That means that we are forever searching for a clean place to brush our teeth, use the facilities, wash our faces, and – though this has fallen unacceptably low on the priority list over time – shower. Planet Fitness offers alllllll dat. This is THE perk. As in, if we were ONLY allowed to use the locker rooms at PF, we’d still pay the full gym membership price. Toilets and teeth brushin’ are just that important.
Open 24 hours – Almost all PF locations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This can vary a bit from location to location, but an overwhelming number of these gyms are always open. Huge bonus for a couple who doesn’t know their schedule more than 1 day in advance.
Water Fountains – We try to refill our water bottles every chance we get, but there is something funky about drinking water that came from a Starbucks bathroom sink. I can’t make myself do it. The filtered water fountains at Planet Fitness are a nice alternative. We have 3 water bottles and a Camel Hydrapak between the two of us, and PF is a good spot to refill all of them.
Charging Stations – We haven’t actually taken advantage of this yet, but there are plenty of electrical outlets both in the lobby and in the locker rooms at most locations, so we could easily recharge our laptops, phones, backup batteries, wireless headphones, etc. during a routine PF stop.
Oh yeah – It’s an Actual Gym Too – Though the quantity and quality of equipment can vary from location to location, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of cardio equipment and free weights at each spot. Some have separate rooms for things like: 12min Abs, 30min Circuit Training, Stretching, and PF 360. Regardless of how snobby of a gym rat you are, you’ll be equipped with enough tools at any PF location to get a solid workout in.
Massage – As a Black Card member, you’re entitled to use the massage chairs (think: the only reason you go to a Brookstone store) and the hydromassage tables. Hydromassage uses the combination of water and heat to relax you. You lay flat on a rubber barrier while water jets move up and down your body. You don’t get wet and it’s actually feels pretty darn good.
Tanning (if you’re into that) – I stopped tanning years ago and you should too! BUT, if you’re addicted to those UV rays then PF has you covered. Some locations even offer spray tanning, which I might be inclined to take advantage of at some point.
Free Pizza and Bagels (???) – Bonkers as it may sound, Planet Fitness locations give away free pizza on the first Monday of every month and free bagels on the second Tuesday of every month—that’s right, a gym that feeds you pizza. Here’s what they have to say about why:
“At Planet Fitness we believe it’s realistic and okay for people to enjoy a slice of pizza every once in a while in moderation. We’re a Judgement Free Zone and community through and through, and we whole-heartedly believe that it’s a-okay to treat yourself in moderation, especially as you’re working toward your individualized health and fitness goals, whatever they might be.”
Yep, FINE BY ME! Again, this is a perk that we’ve yet to take advantage of, but might become more and more appealing as we creep towards the high end of the food budget we set for ourselves.
All in all, you can see why Planet Fitness has earned its place as one of the only solid routines that we have anymore whilst circumnavigating the country, even if our individual PF routines actually look quite different. Here’s mine:
- Walk in the front door and run to bathroom
- Cardio for 20-30min
- Free weights for 30-45min
- Cool down for 10min
- Massage chair or hydromassage bed for 10min
- Change clothes
- Brush teeth
- Dry hair (most locations have hair dryers which is a nice bonus since I didn’t pack one)
- Use restroom again
- Mosey back out to Odie
- Walk in the front door
- Check in at front desk
- Use restroom
- Brush teeth
- Grab a tootsie roll
- Walk right back out with no shame
Both cases are perfectly allowed and perfectly acceptable in the Judgment Free Zone! Planet Fitness, we can’t thank you enough for saving these two hobos living the #vanlife.