When I first started working out many years ago I felt quite shy in the gym. I didn’t know my way around the equipment, I wasn’t sure what exercises to do or how to do them right and most of all I was a little intimidated by the real lifters. When I say real lifters I mean the women who were already sporting that beautiful muscle I wanted and the men who had those hard-won physiques I loved to look at…not that I ever really looked at them. I absolutely kept my eyes to myself in those days. Now I’m much more likely to spend a few seconds admiring a fellow gym goer (male or female) Mainly because I’m a known entity there and very comfortable in the environment. People don’t mind a brief look (notice I didn’t say a leer) if they see you’re in there working hard too. Those of us who are serious about our lifting know what it takes to sculpt a pleasing physique and we appreciate seeing the results in ourselves and in others too. We look at physiques displayed in magazines, in the mall, park, grocery store and yes, in the gym.
One of the things you’ll notice after you’re past the newbie stage as a lifter and you’ve made the rounds a bit in terms of gyms visited is that the gyms that boast the people with the nicest looking muscle are also places where people make noise when they’re getting down and dirty with their workouts. Anybody, male or female who is sincerely pushing at or close to their limit will make audible sounds. I’m not talking about continuous sounds, obnoxious yelling or ear-splitting screeching, I’m talking about sighs, moans or when it comes to me growls. You might hear a powerlifter or bodybuilder, clap their hands together right before attempting a big lift or right after a successful lift, a little chalk might fly, weights aren’t thrown but sometimes they clang onto the rack or they’re dropped from a few inches above the floor and make a dull thud. Those are sounds of hard work. Those are sounds that keep you going, make you push harder, make you dig deep. Those are the sounds of a GYM!
This, however isn’t the clientele that Planet Fitness is interested in attracting. I absolutely believe there is a spot in the market for all kinds of places to pursue fitness goals but I was surprised to read about the Planet Fitness philosophy on the matter of noise. Put simply, it’s just not allowed. That’s right, no grunting, moaning or yelling. It’s also against the rules to drop weights at all and as an aside, it’s also against the rules to deadlift (which happens to be one of the most effective, best compound movements you can do at the gym). When any of these infractions occur an alarm sounds to warn/spotlight the offending person. It’s called a Lunk Alarm. I’m not kidding!
According to Planet Fitness, someone who grunts when lifting or who wears a bodybuilding tank top or drinks out of a gallon jug is a lunk. They see it as a negative. I don’t share that vision. Call me a lunk lover!
As far as I’m concerned those who never make noise when lifting aren’t working nearly hard enough. They’re generally relegated to a life of bodybuilding mediocrity and will never develop those muscles they’re probably dying for but have no idea how to get. Planet Fitness encourages this half effort philosophy and I think does a disservice to those who walk through the door with the idea of building a little muscle. Still, I think Planet Fitness has a legitimate place in the world. It’s probably a good gathering place for cardio bunnies and those guys who like to ride the recumbent bike while reading the Wall Street Journal. If they’re actually able to hold onto their clientele and it’s a satisfying place for them to exercise I say more power to them. It’s definitely not for me.
I wonder if people who like it there extend the silence protocol beyond the gym. Does a man who works out but never makes a sound carry that into other areas of his life? Into his intimate life? Well, I guess one could always install a lunk alarm in the bedroom to prevent that sort of thing. After all we wouldn’t want that icky grunting and moaning being heard…or any other audible expressions being uttered, now would we?