Planet Fitness Drama: Woman Told to Cover up For Being Too Toned

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness prides themselves on being a judgment-free zone but it seems that they’ve taken this concept too far. I stumbled upon a news story about Tiffany Austin, from the Bay Area, who was told to cover up because her toned body was intimidating. Yes, people actually complained about the woman’s body being scary, according to KTVU.

Austin said she was trying to get back in shape after recovering from a recent car accident, and felt that Planet Fitness would work out. However, her first workout only lasted 15 minutes. She was running on a treadmill at a slow speed, wearing the outfit that you see in the photo above, which I don’t think is bad (especially considering some of the things I’ve seen). Eventually she grew self-conscious because she noticed other people staring at her, and then a staff-member stopped her and said, “excuse me we’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?”

Here’s the full story:

I used to think the Planet Fitness commercials were gross exaggerations of the extreme personality types you come across in the gym but I guess the rumors are true. There are people in the gym who’d rather be seen and judge other people than actually focus on their work out. I’ve been a member of a few gyms and have seen it. That behavior always makes me laugh but most of the time, I encounter more people who are just there to mind their own business.

I prefer lifting and classes, and have been a member at Bally, Crunch, Lucille Roberts and a New York City Parks Gym. Bally was a Lunkhead central meat market. I got hit on a lot and a lot of the people there seemed like their purpose was to get picked up. There was one time when I was doing intervals on a treadmill, where this buff man who had been staring at me since I walked in, stationed himself on a treadmill next to me and kept questioning my various speeds, not realizing what I was doing. Another at Bally, I was doing preacher curls and a PERSONAL TRAINER told me not to do them because I’d get too bulky. WTF! Crunch was cool because I really enjoy their classes but my only beef is that here in NYC their classes are often too crowded for comfort. Lucille Roberts was entirely too girly and didn’t really encourage overall fitness. They were more about weight loss, which I think is vapid. The New York City Parks gym might as well had been Riker’s Island but I digress.

Planet Fitness never appealed to me based on the commercials, especially not the dance one (dance is one of my favorite ways to work out and I like to get down without having to think about who’s intimidated by my presence so that set off a red flag for me). I get that they want to encourage people who may otherwise be too insecure to workout, to stand feel safe and comfortable but isolating one group while judging another doesn’t makes sense–fit-shaming at it’s finest. It’s ironic, considering their tagline is “No Judgment.” I’m absolutely not the fittest person in the world but I prefer places that encourage wellness from a balanced, well-rounded perspective as opposed to environments that keep people at a beginner level.

I got sucked down a rabbit hole on YouTube researching things about Planet Fitness and not only did I discover that they have designated days where they give out free pizza, bagels (BAGELS!), and also have bowls filled with Tootsie Rolls laying around. I believe in a balanced diet and I am not a nutritionist but common fitness knowledge is that pizza can be tricky (you can make healthier variations of it but it’s still not ideal for fast toning and/or weight loss) and bagels are full of empty calories. Let’s not even start on gummy candy. You can eat what you want but is it really productive to eat these things after working out? Shouldn’t we be nourishing our bodies with fruit, vegetables and protein post work out? So, yeah…I do have a problem with that. They also have a Lunk Alarm that goes off whenever people display what they describe as “lunk-like” behavior. One of the things they describe as lunk-like is grunting or breathing to hard while lifting. Huh? Anyone who has done heavy lifting knows that both are unavoidable. You can control the volume but not doing it at all is absolutely ridiculous! One of the things that stuck with me from the trainer who taught me how to lift is that breathing is integral.

Planet Fitness is free to do what they want but they should consider remodeling how they put their plan into action. Perhaps create an environment where those who are more experienced serve as inspiration for those who aren’t. The Lunk Alarm could still be fun for actual meat heads but nitpicking every little thing, including the way someone’s body looks, is ridiculous. Isn’t part of the point of working out to achieve your desired figure?


In related news, none of this stops me from being amused by their policies. Like I said, I got sucked down a rabbit hole on YouTube where people were ranting against PF. In one case, someone said that a location removed squat racks because people were intimidated, and in other situations there were several people trying to make the alarm go off.

It. Was. Hilarious. I almost want a buddy pass to PF so that I can try to set off the Lunk Alarm too.

Anyway, enjoy the shenanigans:

This one is a Daily Show skit:

YouTube Commenter Buildsomemuscle86:

“My buddy has a membership there and asked if I could show him an arm workout(never being in a PF, I did not know what to expect). I picked up the 75lb DBs and started hammer curling, people went up and complained to the front desk that I was too itimidating! Really? i was still warming up! jesus … hahah.”

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Starrene Rhett Rocque is a former member of Dumbledore's Army who now enjoys gallivanting at pole, yoga and dance studios. She also occasionally fantasizes about becoming a shotgun-toting b-movie heroine.