Once again, Planet Fitness is in the news for enforcing its dumb dress code. This time, a pregnant woman says she was told she needed to cover up her belly. Is there any reason to belong to this gym, besides the fact it's dirt cheap? Because that's looking less and less persuasive.
WCIV reports on the complaint from mom Melissa Mantor, who's beefing with a Charleston franchise:
"I was on the treadmill for about 10 minutes before I was approached by a girl who came up to me telling me that she is going to have to ask me to leave," Mantor said. "I was very confused by this and thought I may have heard her wrong. She told me again that I am not able to continue my workout until I change my clothes because I am in violation of their dress code."
In a statement, Planet Fitness HQ said that the specific location where Mantor was working out prohibits bare midriffs, and denied that she was asked to leave "as a result of her attire." But Mantor insisted that she's been wearing similar outfits for years and never had a problem before. And she was mortified: "I even had people (working out next to her) comment about the situation, which was extremely embarrassing."
This is just the latest story about the gym's policies to whip the Internet into an uproar. There was the woman who got busted for wearing a crop top; there was the 17-year-old whose top supposedly made others "uncomfortable." Another woman is suing, saying she was told to remove her headscarf. What is this, middle school? Am I going to get detention for drinking this Diet Coke outside the cafeteria, too?
Now, many say that, duh, Planet Fitness has a right to decree a dress code; it's their establishment. But that doesn't mean that the dress code isn't fucking stupid.
Even if every single one of these stories is a hoax, it's still dumb. Planet Fitness is a gym that costs $10 a month, not renowned New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace. What is a gym doing with a dress code? Safety-based ground rules are one thing, but this is purely aesthetic. Even worse, the policy is apparently wildly inconsistent, with each franchise tweaking the rules at the managers' discretion. No wonder customers seem so confused.
The reasoning behind the dress code is pretty stupid, too. Their whole brand is built on being the anti-bodybuilder gym, positioning Planet Fitness as a friendlier alternative to other gyms—the "judgement-free zone." So: no skimpy clothing. But honestly, it just feels like one big dumb neg. "Come here and we'll be nice about the fact that you don't have rippling abs to show off! We'll drive off all those meanies who keep picking on you for being a schlub!" I don't like exercising and I don't particularly want to spend a hundred bucks a month on a gym, but there's no need to lay it on so thick.
Besides, are "lunkheads" truly such an overwhelming problem at gyms? Like bridezillas, they seem to be more a cultural assumption than a thick-on-the-ground phenomenon. Maybe there are some people who go to the gym to preen and judge, but that doesn't really seem like the likeliest motivation for an activity that literally makes you smelly and red in the face.
Planet Fitness gives out free pizza and bagels, for crying out loud. For starters, that's gross—who wants their food sitting out anywhere near other people's sweat? But it's downright cruel to people who're trying to count calories, and actually pretty condescending to its clientele. "We know you really want to be sitting on the couch stuffing your face with Domino's!" the pizza whispers. "Come work out and THEN stuff your face, instead!"
This is an ACTUAL post on the company's Facebook page: "If you're going to be bored in front of the TV, you might as well also be on a treadmill." That's not not true, but come on, guys. Not exactly inspirational.
Anyway, the real reason anyone works out at Planet Fitness is the dirt-cheap monthly cost. Which is pretty hard to beat! But you know what they say: You get what you pay for.
Photo via Getty.