LA Fitness vs. Planet Fitness: Which will win the battle?

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Every gym goer has their unique preferences when deciding which gym is right for them. If you’ve seen Dodgeball, then you know that choices range anywhere from the old, base model, “Average Joe’s Gym” to the advanced, perfection oriented, “Globo-Gym.”
In any case, this judgement incorporates factors such as price for membership, distance, access to facilities and equipment as well as overall feel of the gym. For their inability to accommodate other workouts aside from their specialty, places like yoga studios and TITLE Boxing were not considered for the article.
LA Fitness: My first visit was on a Sunday at the location on Quince Orchard Road. Weekend Manager Fred Wright made it clear that the busiest times are during the week, but on a Sunday, I still wasn’t expecting a ghost-town.
With 86 weight and 86 cardio machines there is more than enough equipment to go around. The fitness center sports a three lane pool, a full basketball court, a spin class room, a juice bar offering workout-oriented drinks and a dance or yoga studio with some punching bags at the far end.
That said, the only staff member in sight was Wright. I didn’t see a single trainer in the entire complex. Even the juice bar, which Wright was proud to flaunt, was understaffed.
I did, however, return to LA Fitness on Monday at the Gaithersburg location where I found a much more professional style. During my tour, I saw the same equipment as the Quince Orchard location, however the sales representative explained that there are on average eight trainers offering their services to members during week days.
A disadvantage is that personal training sessions cost extra, making a member pay any time they want to get help building a workout. The Gaithersburg location was definitely a step up from its Quince Orchard counterpart.
If you’re looking for a place that has all of the essentials and free group fitness classes, LA Fitness will do the trick. I mention both gyms because for the $20-$45 monthly rate, one’s membership offers access to any LA Fitness in the country. There may be some things not included, but the ability to work out at any LA Fitness location that happens to be closest to you is a definite perk
Planet Fitness: Those commercials about anti-gymtimidation are not a hoax. Though the complex does not have a significant amount of equipment, there is a very welcoming atmosphere.
The manager leading me on my tour made it clear early on that this is a beginner’s gym. Though there is equipment capable of handling complex workouts, there is little to go around. I saw strength equipment, but the number of strength machines could be found in a well equipped home gym.
Another downside is the lack of trainers. The manager explained that there is only ever one trainer in the building at a time, and there is no gym sponsored personal training offered. The trainer is solely there for the scheduled group classes. For a gym designed for new gym goers, a lack of experienced trainers on call is not ideal.
Planet Fitness offers a “30 Minute Workout” section of the gym solely designed for a beginner trying to build a workout regiment. The section has numbered exercise machines with instructions for what the user should do at each station.
A user will spend a minute at each station with 30 seconds rest in between stations. After 30 minutes, the session is complete and a newcomer at the gym has been gradually introduced into the workout world.
Though is an initiation fee of up to $50, there are promotions from time to time offering a waiver of the initiation fee. Memberships are $10 per month, unless you wish to pay $20 per month to get the premium membership.
If so, you will gain access to the spa portion of the building equipped with Hydro-Massage beds, tanning beds and Total Body Enhancement booths that are said to help break up the post-workout build up of lactic acid as well as improve skin health.
Unfortunately, Planet Fitness does not follow with LA Fitness offering members access to all locations. One’s membership to Planet Fitness is only valid at the location where the membership has been established. This restriction is less than ideal, but for the price, it’s hard to stay upset. Few gyms offer professionalism and judgment-free atmospheres and instruction on how to get into the exercise world for a price that low.
I was looking for the most ideal gym for an average student looking to get some exercise. My belief is that the only reason one should say “Ugh, I don’t want to go to the gym,” is because going to the gym means working hard to earn that double steak burrito at Chipotle. If there is even one other thing deterring you from a certain gym, resulting in that same statement, then it might be time to cancel your membership and find a new place to work on getting and staying in shape.

 

Josh Friedman

Opinion Editor