I didn’t know it was the one with the “Lunk Alarm.” I was just going with my brother because he had a free pass. But it turns out Planet Fitness is the chain that made news a few years back for not allowing grunting. Not allowing overly strenuous barbell exercises, weight dropping or general steel on steel clangor, and above all else banning “judging.” Signs everywhere in the purple and yellow interior remind you that this is a Judgement Free Zone. You are not to judge, lest ye be judged. Except for the biggest sign, which reminds you that it’s also a Lunk Free Zone, and there’s a big purple police gumball mounted above the definition of a Lunk, which is anyone who grunts, drops weights, or judges. You may judge Lunks. In fact, you are supposed to set off an alarm if a Lunk grunts in earshot.
Fine, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t drop weights; I wouldn’t dare waste the eccentric resistance. Lower that shit all slow and controlled. I will try not to grunt, although I can’t promise anything. Because it’s been several days since I’ve lifted and this means today must be squat and deadlift day. I’ve been known to have difficulty stifling a grunt as a dremel tool chews the bone behind my kneecaps and a family of rats eat their way out of my pelvis as I’m deadlifting. That shit is fucking painful but there is no substitute. In the world outside Planet Fitness, if my ass is unlike the twin meaty cinder blocks sported by a nude Khal Drogo, I will be judged. So, I’ll try to keep it under control but in any case let’s find a 45 pound bar and some plates and get to it.
All right, well– looks like there’s a little freeweights section with some benches over there… that must be where they keep them, right? Let’s get started…
Well, no, there are no 45 pound standard Olympic bars by the benches, which are not equipped with the racks for said bars. This area appears to be dumbbell only. Behind it is row upon row of incomprehensible Cybex™-type machines in concord grape purple with diagrams of the muscles worked out and strict specific instructions about how not to injure oneself. OK, there’s another room. The real shit must be in there. Past row upon row upon row of ellipticals and other low impact cardio machines, each equipped with its own television. Row upon row vanishing endlessly in the vast distance like the warehouse stinger at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Must be behind those, right? The 45 minute walk past all the ellipticals yields only more Cybex™ machines. They have at least four of those weird scissory leg machines chicks use to squeeze their legs together so they can better wrap around their man’s back in missionary. Which, admirable, but– four of these out in the open and they hide the regular weights?
I was so preoccupied that I hadn’t noticed that each machine in the rows upon rows upon rows of elliptical and other low impact cardio devices, each equipped with its own television, had a hot chick in tight black yoga pants on it. I have never seen so much ass in one place in my life. They were striving, sweating. Some of them were thicker but all of them were working. They were not being judged. I had finally found where girls hide. But what was I gonna do, talk to them? They were all there because they were guaranteed a safe space where they could watch Lifetime Movie Network on their own personal HD screen while doing low to no impact cardiovascular exercise. Faces straight ahead, bouncing in unison, don’t-talk-to-me earbuds cranking out either Prosecuting Casey Anthony starring Rob Lowe or the type of music they play under blacklight on Saturday night at the bowling alley. They are here because you can’t talk to them. They seek places that have specifically banned men, or at least male behavior. In their hearts, they long for total segregation. For Shaker society or Taliban law. Basically, attractive women’s whole lives are spent avoiding you. Planet Fitness is a place finally free of your sad desperate leering.
Anyway, there is not one single free standing 45 pound Olympic standard barbell in all six hundred thousand square feet of Planet Fitness in Somerville, Massachusetts. Three thousand signs telling you not to judge and not one god damn bar you can deadlift with. Every single one of them is attached to a Smith Machine. And the dumbbells don’t go over sixty pounds. There’s a giant dumbbell rack taunting you with what appears to be a dizzying variety from a distance but up close it’s 2.5, 5, 6.5, 8.3, 12.6… there is a fucking pi dumbbell but they only go up to 60. Not only are we going to discourage you from judging but we are going to go out of our way to not spend the small amount of money on equipment with which you could actually do useful exercises. Find a machine for it. They don’t make a fucking machine for deadlifts. It’s just lifting weight off the ground into the air. There is no hideously complicated weird girly looking Cybex™ machine they can make so that deadlifts “isolate” some muscle on a drawing of a ripped yet dickless man, so you can’t do deadlifts. The amount of reps you’d have to do with their dumbbell selection means your first set would end in 2014.
I ended up doing a high rep chest day with dumbbells and walking around between sets leering at thick, meaty asses in yoga pants. I hadn’t masturbated in five days. When I got home I choked out about a quart of bleach-smelling jizz into my dad’s bathroom sink. I was visualizing bending a girl over the elliptical, ripping down her black spandex tights while Prosecuting Casey Anthony played. I grunted. No alarm sounded.
In conclusion: two stars.