Hello everyone! Welcome to the debut of Unleashed Truth. Today’s review will be about Planet Fitness. To make things easier, the two locations most frequented will be discussed.
The Unleashed One
I am going to discuss each location separately with my thoughts.
Planet Fitness (Morrisville)
229 Plaza Boulevard
Morrisville, PA 19067
I was told about this location by someone. Since I go to Morrisville (mainly to the Farmers Market), I decided to give it a try. The day I typically go is Saturdays (sometimes on Sundays).
Atmosphere: There is a calm about this place no matter which day I go. It is bigger than the Planet Fitness in Ewing and the machines are a bit more spaced out. There is a dedicated area for abdominals (which I like), along with an area for the 30-minute workout. I also like the space they have for stretching and yoga.
Machines (availability of use): No area of this gym is highly congested. Even though I haven’t gone to the weight section yet, there are not many people over there. In addition, the people who are in that area are considerate if there is another person waiting for the bench, dumbbells, or the machines in general. So, if I could go over there, I could … with little or no hassle.
There are also machines here that aren't at the Ewing location. One type are the Hammer Strength line of machines. There are some for the upper body as well as the abdominals. Trust me … they are no joke! I like them a lot, so every time I come to this location, I try my best to get a workout on a Hammer Strength, especially the abdominal crunch.
Cardio wise, although they have the stair machines, they still have the old machines (treadmill, bike, elliptical, and ARC trainer). I am a fan. I go into detail in the Ewing review as to why I love the old vs. the new.
Machines (ease of use): Most of the machines have just the picture illustrations but no writing. This may throw off some people who are used to written instructions (I don’t mind either way).
Machines (What to Add and Subtract):
This area needs more (or to include):
- Hammer Strength
- The rowing type equipment that the Ewing location has (for those rehabilitating or just getting back into the swing of working out): This area would benefit because this gym targets an older demographic
This area should subtract:
- Hmmm … I’m not sure it needs to really subtract anything so far. This place has less elliptical and ARC trainers than Ewing.
Planet Fitness (Ewing)
1560 North Olden Avenue
Ewing Township, NJ 08638
I became a member of this gym when it first opened. I purchased the Black Card membership with the hopes of my husband at the time joining me. One, it would give me continued encouragement on the road to being healthy. Two, I believed that exercise would be a terrific activity for the two of us to do together, since there were moments when we didn’t see each other much due to our work schedules.
To make a long story short, circumstances became challenging, and I had to decide which items were more pertinent. Think of it as the whole “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. So, my gym membership fell to the waste side as I had to focus on working two jobs to compensate for my then husband’s stasis of underemployment as well as unemployment. This eventually led to my medical condition getting worse and become unregulated.
Fast forward to this year. Minus the second job, minus a husband, but also minus a few pounds.
I had gotten sick with that nasty Super Flu at the beginning of 2018, plus there were other ailments going on causing further complications. I was out from work about two and a half weeks as well as twenty pounds lighter. It was a twenty pounds where you could really tell one had been sick. The skin hanging from certain areas was really bothering me, and I wanted to do something about the predicament. That got me to thinking about the gym again. In addition, my health insurance situation had improved, so I was able to see not only a doctor more regularly but get referred to a doctor who really could assist me in getting my medical condition in order. It was the final push I needed to go back to the gym. It had been so long that I was no longer in the system, so I reapplied.
I selected the Black Card membership. This time, it was for different reasons. I wanted the flexibility to go to any Planet Fitness I wanted. Two, just for my roommate to try it, and if she liked it, she could join as well.
This Planet Fitness is my primary work out gym. It is the easiest one for both Mini Truth and myself to get to after work. Our typical work out days at this gym are Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I am going to share with you my experiences at this location.
Atmosphere: In my observation, Tuesday is the busier of the two days. (However, Mondays and Wednesdays are the heaviest … I know because my old workout regimen prior to Mini Truth joining me was to do Mondays and Wednesdays. If you don’t like it overly crowded, it’s best not to go on those two days in particular).
Machines (availability of use): The weight section of this Planet Fitness, no matter which day you go, is pretty crowded with people. It’s difficult for me to get in a zen state even when I have the chance to be in that area. In addition, there have been times when there is a dumbbell I want to use, but it is missing. Usually, it is left near an entirely different location. I admit, the few times I have had the opportunity, I find myself organizing the weights properly, in order from lightest to heaviest.
Another area of the gym that is hard to gain access to near the weightlifting area. It’s the machines that allow you to do various upper body exercises, such as the tricep press, lateral pulldown, and many others. These stations come with attachments, so you can swap them out, based on what area of the body one wants to focus on. It is Bogarted by the bodybuilding die-hards as well as the people who come with their personal trainers.
Machines (ease of use): Most of the machines are pretty self-explanatory. However, there are a couple of machines that have seen better days and need WD-40 or replacing altogether. One of them is the AB coaster. It is missing the item that holds the weights on the bottom in place. When I have to use it (because the other has been out of order for a while), I do so carefully, for fear that one of the weights will fly off and hurt someone. That might have been the case with the cracked mirror just in front of the machine. That mirror has been like that for months. Another machine is one of the leg presses (it creaks during usage) as well as the adjustability of some of the pulldown machines (the weight adjuster knob gets stuck or the pin doesn’t slip in and out very easily).
I know you may be thinking, “Why not just use the machine that isn’t raggedy?”
On certain days (Tuesday being the culprit), one can wait almost ten minutes to get on the nicer machine. Yeah, the machines I just mentioned … not a whole lot of them at this gym.
Machines (Old vs. New): Just recently, this location upgraded most of their cardio equipment, including adding stair master machines. I have not tried the stair machine as of this writing. However, I have been on the bike, the treadmill, the elliptical, and the ARC trainer.
Truth be told, I preferred the old machines, particularly with the treadmill. Here’s why.
(1) I actually liked and took advantage of the cool down segment. The new machines eliminated the cool down.
(2) There are different components (such as the incline) that I like seeing so that I can adjust at will. The new machines remove some of that capability.
(3) The old treadmills have a longer ramp. I feel more confident with increasing my stride or having a mini jog (I haven’t worked my way up to sprinting yet) if I have more “road” to deal with if you will. With the new treadmills, the ramp is shorter, so when I see a dedicated jogger going to town, I try to find the treadmill the farthest away because of all the shaking going on. In other words, it doesn’t look as steady as the older ones.
Machines (What to Add and Subtract)
In my opinion, this location needs more:
- Rowing Machines (for people who are doing rehabilitation or just getting started with exercising): these machines appear when you first walk in to the facility to the left-hand side
- Hammer Strength machines (these machines are designed to move with the body’s natural path of motion as well as allow multiple areas of the body to be worked out at once--think of it as more bang for the buck)
- Torso rotation machine
- Stair machines
This location could use less of:
- ARC trainer
Perhaps it is important for me to talk a little bit about my health history before I go into my thoughts about the gym.
Several years ago, when I was much younger, limber and had much more energy I practiced Yoga and Tae Bo regularly. Fast forward 20 years and all that went bye-bye. I found myself in a position where I simply did not have the time nor the energy to workout. Working full time as a teacher, having 4 kids of my own (one with special needs) and a set of dependent parents made it particularly hard for me to have any time whatsoever to so much as breathe, let alone workout. Years later, my health crashed and burned.
You see, I am genetically predisposed to myriad ailments and with the lack of care that I truly required my medical conditions became too many to bear. At last count, I had 8 diagnoses. Three of which were autoimmune in nature. How does one person have 3 autoimmune diseases, I can’t tell you. It just was. Of course, when it came to my health and body I’d always been the oddball, ailing and being affected by things that the majority of people didn’t ail from.
Here is a great example … I am allergic to beef. Yes, please chew on that for a while. 😅 Get it, “chew”? Yeah, I like what I did there.
At any rate, about 5 months ago my roommate-slash-best-friend, The Unleashed One (please see the review above), and I started talking about joining the gym. She joined before I did and I kept saying, “Yes, I’ll join next payday.” Of course, that got pushed back like 3 months. I had fears, you see. Fears of things that I can only assume any level headed person worries about.
One of those fears was perhaps the most prominent ...
You see, in my experience, gyms were made for good-looking people. Those guys and gals that only go to the gym to take selfies and flex in front of the full-sized mirror while holding a dumbbell. The guys with the white muscle shirts all lubed up with baby oil and sweat, and the girls wearing leggings and a bra with a fake tan.
I mean, honestly, how would a person like me—middle-aged, overweight, short and with terrible health—look among the Hollywood Bunch?
Not a pretty sight, I assure you.
Not a pretty sight, I assure you.
Due to a hard past, I have had an ongoing battle with my self-esteem for some time. I was not about to put myself in a position where I would feel “less than” again.
So, day in and day out the bestie and I covered the gym situation and I always brought that up. She would tell me, “It’s not like that there. They don’t even pay any attention to you.”
I wasn’t wholly convinced.
Finally, I decided to join. At the end of the day, I was joining for my own health and wellbeing, nothing more and nothing less.
The best fit for me was the Black Card Membership because of my son who is 16 and special needs. It would be hard for me to find him a babysitter every time I had to go to the gym so I figured that this would allow me to bring him even if he just sat at the table and played on his tablet. To my surprise, he wanted to participate in the workouts.
Well, I’ll be damned. The boy that never wants to do anything, wanted to workout with me.
Honestly, being able to workout with both my best-friend and my son was a huge motivation. How could I not do it when I had them to back me up?
My first couple of weeks workingout were rough. It took me some time to get acclimated as well as find a regime that would work for my son as well.
In my time as a Planet Fitness Black Card Member, I’ve worked out at two gyms. The one in Ewing, NJ and the one in Morrisville, PA.
Here are the pros and cons.
I’ll start with the Cons first as there really aren't all that many.
- Depending on what day you go to the gym in Ewing you might have to encounter one particular employee who is lazier than an upper lip. This chick does nothing. I mean, just blah.
- Not all the gyms have the same equipment.
- It can be rather noisy from time to time, but I think that sort of comes with the territory.
Now, the Pros.
- At the top of the list is “the judgment free zone”.No matter what Planet Fitness you go to, you’ll see plastered all over the walls and equipment, “the judgment free zone” and it is in fact so. You find people from all walks of life, that look all kinds of ways, and of all ages doing their thing.No one is there to look at anyone. Everyone is there to do their workout and that’s it.
It is a beautiful thing!
The first couple of visits I battled with myself, looking around to see if anyone was looking at me. But, to my surprise no one was. It was just me and the gym, and my son tailing me which was fine.I loved it! And to be completely candid, that was a boost to the ol’ self-esteem. I mean, I went in, did my workout and did not have to worry about who was looking at me or why. Clear conscience and the freedom to just do my thing.
- FREE PIZZA! The first Monday of every month, between 5 and 7PM there is free pizza for all members.
- It does not stink. As a kid, I remember the school gym always smelled of old sock and sweaty ass with a hint of rotten corn chips. But, wouldn’t you know it … CLEAN AIR! OMG, I COULD BREATHE! Ahh, that magnificence of clean, fresh air during a time when you are breathing heavy. It’s bliss, I tell you.
- The equipment is great. While I enjoy the treadmill, exercise bikes, and arm and leg press things, my favorite machine I don’t even know the name of. It is sort of an elliptical that you can sit in. I’ve enclosed a picture.
- It’s convenient. I don’t have to go too far to find a Planet Fitness nearby. Our regular routine is to go on weekdays after work and in during weekends, early mornings. But, no matter what way I go, there is a Planet Fitness within 5 miles of my home in any circumference.
- There is no pressure. I don’t have a Personal Trainer over my head, breathing down my neck and yelling at me to “Get ‘er done!” It’s just me, my tempo, my time, my goal and most importantly myself. I set my own goal and if I meet it, I pat myself on the back. If I don’t, then I tell myself that I’ll achieve it next time. No pressure.
- The massage stuff. Okay … so, if having access to all the equipment without any restrictions isn’t enough, how about we sweeten the deal with a Hydromassage Chair and a Regular Massage Chair?
There have been times where my illnesses have cause lots of pain, and so I just do a mere 30 minutes on the treadmill and them plop my big behind on the massage chair and suddenly everything is well with the world.
I mean, there aren’t very many gyms that can say, “Hey, having a bad day? Don’t really feel like working out? How about a nice massage? Yes, please DO lay down on this incredibly awesome Hydronic Chair, watch TV and relax as the water waves ease the tension. Would you like a cocktail and a fancy umbrella with that?” Okay, okay, so I embellished the last part. But you get what I am saying.
- The overall experience. Joining is easy, prices are cheap, going is simple and convenient, exercising is fun, distractions are plentiful (if you’re the kind that needs to be distracted by music or television while working out) and the regiment is lenient.
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