Ever since college, I intermittently have periods during which I’ll become a bonafide “gym rat.” In high school and before, I wasn’t that into the fitness scene. It’s not that I was particularly unhealthy, but my dad had a treadmill, stationary bike, and weights in his basement and I just never enjoyed working out. Just wasn’t my thing. Then in college, I guess you could say the “freshman 15” crept up on me, so I felt compelled to give the new campus gym a try. And I absolutely loved it.

Fast forward a decade and I’ve now been a member of Planet Fitness for about a month. I’ve had memberships to Gold’s Gym, Anytime Fitness, and of course the Shepherd University Wellness Center, but Planet Fitness is by and large the best gym I’ve joined to date and the Black Card, which is the membership I have currently, is an incredible bang for the buck. But what makes Planet Fitness so awesome? Is it the cool name? The funky color scheme? Bagel Tuesdays? Unlimited personal fitness training? Well I decided to figure it out.

As Michael and I were working out this morning, I was on the elliptical looking around at the innards of Planet Fitness Martinsburg and trying to pinpoint what, exactly, makes Planet Fitness such a fantastic gym. I decided that it wasn’t any one singular thing, but rather all the things that a Planet Fitness membership offers. So here’s why I think Planet Fitness is the best gym ever.

Planet Fitness Gives You a Lot for Very Little

Firstly—and some might say most importantly—is the cost of a Planet Fitness membership. Planet Fitness offers two membership options: Basic and Black Card memberships. If you sign up when they’re having one of their occasional enrollment specials, the entry-level, basic Planet Fitness membership will cost you $10 or maybe even less up front and then only $10 per month; regularly the sign-up fee is $20 (still pretty cheap) and $10 a month. This basic membership gets you unlimited access to your chosen Planet Fitness location as well as unlimited personal fitness training with the trainers and a free t-shirt. If you’re not a bells-and-whistles type, this is an incredible bargain that will get you just about everything you need.

There’s also the Planet Fitness Black Card membership, which is a premier-level membership that will have the same sign-up fee—$20 regularly, but $10 or less when they’re having a promo—and will cost $20 per month. However, in addition to getting unlimited gym access, unlimited personal training, and the t-shirt, you also get access to the VIP area that consists of unlimited hydromassage beds, unlimited massage chairs, and unlimited tanning. Another great perk is that Black Card members also have unlimited guest privileges, meaning you can bring a friend or family member with you anytime you work out.

Like all other gyms, Planet Fitness also charges an annual fee to every member on June 1st. For basic memberships, the annual fee is $29 while Black Card members pay $39. These prices, in my experience, are either comparable to or less than the annual dues that other gyms require. Also, monthly membership fees are charged on the 17th of each month; therefore, each June you will be charged by Planet Fitness twice, the annual dues on the 1st and then your regular monthly dues on the 17th.

The Amenities of Planet Fitness

Many gyms offer certain accommodations for members that are intended to make membership more enticing or to make your workouts more comfortable. For example, Gold’s Gym has the Cardio Cinema, a separate darkened room filled with treadmills, ellipticals, stair-steppers, and stationary bikes that you can use while watching a movie on the big-screen as if you’re in a theater. While that might entice some to sign a contract, things like that always seemed kind of gimmicky and, well, a little unsafe to me.

There aren’t any gimmicks like that at Planet Fitness. They offer you all the essential cardio, weights, and resistance-training equipment you could need in a spacious, judgement-free environment. The locker rooms, changing rooms, and bathrooms are all exceptionally clean and well-designed. I’ve even used the showers quite a few times. They more than adequate, kept very clean, and it seems like they’re rarely used.

As I mentioned, Black Card members have access to the VIP area with hydromassage beds, massage chairs, and tanning beds. After I tried out the massage chairs a few days ago, I’ve now officially used all three. I think my favorite is the hydromassage beds. To use them, you have to sign in on the designated sheet at the check-in desk, which I would assume is to make sure there aren’t a bunch of people waiting while someone lies there for an hour. As long as there’s no one waiting for you to finish, you can extend your ten-minute hydromassage by adding additional ten-minute increments. The massage chairs work a little differently; you sign in for those as well, but after signing the sheet one of the employees has to give you tokens that you put into the chairs like a vending machine. Each token is five minutes in the massage chair with there being so many massage chairs, they’ll typically give you as many tokens as you want. For the tanning, you sign in and choose up to 12 minutes in a lay-down bed or up to 10 minutes in a standing bed; I prefer the latter as I’m claustrophobic and the standing beds are slightly more powerful and a little bit faster.

However, be aware that although Black Card members can bring guests, the guests won’t have access to the VIP areas such as hydromassage and tanning. For non-members to use the VIP areas, they must pay a $20 fee to have one day’s access to the entire gym; however, it’s worth noting that if someone buys a one-day pass for $20 and then signs up for a membership, you can simply show them the receipt and that $20 will be credited toward the new membership.

Planet Fitness Tanning Martinsburg
Photo courtesy of Planet Fitness

Additionally, all members get to participate in Pizza Mondays and Bagel Tuesdays, which are pretty self-explanatory; on the first Monday and second Tuesday of the month, they offer pizza and bagels, respectively, to all the members who choose to enjoy them. This might seem a bit contradictory for a gym to offer free pizza, but I highly doubt that anybody has joined Planet Fitness for the free pizza. To date, I’ve still not seen anyone eating the pizza or bagels they offer; it’s there if you want it, but nobody is forcing it on you.

And as I mentioned previously, all members get unlimited personal training with Planet Fitness trainers; if you’ve ever paid for personal training you’ll know what an amazing value that is. Personal trainers will meet with you and, based on your body type and level of fitness, develop a workout regimen that will help you to achieve your fitness goals, whether that be to improve your endurance or to tone and sculpt or to prepare for a marathon.

The Planet Fitness Experience

Perhaps more important than the value of the membership and the perks that come along with it, the experience of working out at Planet Fitness is what really sets it apart from other gyms. They have signs posted everywhere that say “No Gymtimidation,” which is their way of saying that they don’t want those muscle-head “lunks” making a big scene while they work out, yelling and grunting loudly as they do their weightlifting and just otherwise being a nuisance. I’m sure anyone who’s had a gym membership, especially to Gold’s Gym, knows the type I’m talking about. They usually congregate in front of the mirrors.

Planet Fitness logo
Photo courtesy of Planet Fitness

There’s none of that at Planet Fitness. For the most part, none of the members pay any attention to one another. It seems to me like we all just pretend nobody else is even there, which is pretty easy to do because the gym never seems to be very busy. Maybe it’s because of the size of the space, but even when the parking lot seems crowded I never have a problem using any of the machines I need or want to use. I’ve never had to wait for a tanning bed (any of the handful of times I’ve used them) or a hydromassage bed, or a shower in the locker room, or anything else. And it’s not because the gym doesn’t have many members because as I’m working out, I always notice there’s quite a few people coming and going in just a short period. Perhaps it’s because there’s no showboating or peacocking and people making a big scene that’s so typical in most gyms.

Planet Fitness Martinsburg
Photo courtesy of Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness also offers a pretty diverse range of classes, most of which target specific areas of the body like the legs, abdomen, arms, etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t see classes like Pilates or Zumba, but you can sign up for one-on-one classes with a personal trainer in which you can choose what areas of your body you’d like to work on and the trainer will create a class that’s just for you. These one-on-one classes are first-come-first-served and offered once or twice daily on most weekdays.

Interestingly, Planet Fitness also has a pseudo-social network called Planet of Triumphs. It’s where members post before-and-afters, their goals and accomplishments, encourage and praise one another, and so on. I’ve never quite seen anything like this for something like a gym, but I think it’s a brilliant idea. I’ve been browsing some of the before-and-afters that have been posted recently and it’s really inspiring.

Planet of Triumphs

Black Card Membership Perks

If you’re still not quite sure whether or not you should get a Black Card membership, there are a number of perks to having a Planet Fitness Black Card that you won’t get with a standard membership. For starters, Black Card members can use any Planet Fitness locations nationwide up to 10 times per month; after 10 times, you simply pay $5 each time you go. Black Card members also get half off all the drinks in the cooler in Planet Fitness locations. For the locations that also have an on-site salon, Black Card members get unlimited free haircuts.

Total Body Enhancement machine
Photo courtesy of Planet Fitness

Some locations also offer Total Body Fitness, which is “red light therapy” offered in the form of these machines (see image right) that look like stand-up tanning beds, but have red lights, vibrate, and play music. The point of these machines is to relax you, supposedly to aid with muscle toning and definition as well as improving skin elasticity. These sound somewhat gimmicky to me, but Black Card members get this feature as well; for me, this wouldn’t be a motivator to joining, but I would probably try it once if my location offered them.

Outside of Planet Fitness, a Black Card will get you a variety of other discounts too, such as 20 percent off your purchases from Reebok stores or online, 10 percent off products and services from Regis salons (which includes MasterCuts), buy-one-get-one 50 percent off from Australian Gold, and 10 percent off purchases from the Planet Fitness Store.

Bottom Line

I’m very pleased with my decision to rejoin a gym and am even happier that the gym I’ve joined is Planet Fitness. Sure, Planet Fitness might lack a pool and a sauna, but those are things that most people aren’t going to use save for maybe once in a blue moon. For me, Planet Fitness is the perfect combination of value and features, so I don’t think I’ll ever be a member of another gym. It’s “Planet Fitness or bust” for me.

Planet Fitness logo

About the author

My name is Dane. I'm a writer at Android Authority as well as a tech journalist in general. As well, I'm a marketing guru, designer, and a budding web developer. My passions include portmanteaus, artisanal coffees, jackets, and the smell of fresh technology in the morning.
  • Paul

    Hi Dane, it seems the locations in Memphis, TN don’t have the free haircuts. Do you know which locations offer this service?

    • Hello Paul!

      Thank you for your comment. I went to the Planet Fitness website for you and noticed that there’s no clear, accessible way to tell which locations offer which features. One would assume that tanning and hydromassage are offered at all locations, but it seems that the on-site salon and Total Body Enhancement are only offered at certain Planet Fitness locations. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t seem to tell you which locations have which features. You can click onto each location and visit its specific site, but it still doesn’t really tell you if a location has the salon. The only way to check (that I can see) would be to look through the photos of Planet Fitness locations around you and see if there is a salon area pictured.

      I sent an email to someone at Planet Fitness to bring this issue to their attention. Basically, I said that it might be a good idea to put each Planet Fitness location’s features and services on the designated pages so that members can see at which locations they can use the features they want or need.

      Again, thanks for the comment. Hopefully they will make this information available at some point because I would be very interested in knowing which locations offer haircuts myself.

      Best,
      Dane

  • Angela

    You might want to fix your pop up ads, as from my mobile device I couldn’t read from the second paragraph, and there was no option to close the ad. Ironically, the ad was of your other articles. Seems a little counter productive. Maybe you don’t know it’s the problem. Just bringing it to your attention, and disappointed that I couldn’t finish your article. 🙁

  • beerbrewer737

    A great read regarding a great gym. One thing I’ve noticed after reading various websites is how many HATE Planet Fitness. I’ve been a member for just over a year and love it. I guess the haters dislike the $10 (or $20) per month membership fee.

    • Thanks for commenting, beerbrewer737. I agree with you. The reason I wrote this review of Planet Fitness was because of all the negative feedback it seems to get. Obviously, it’s not going to be for everyone in the same way that alternatives like Golds or LA Fitness aren’t for everyone, but I feel like Planet Fitness has a lot of appeal. While it’s true that offering free pizza and bagels doesn’t sound like the most health-conscious thing to do, nobody has to eat them; personally, I feel it’s a nice thing for them to offer members and there’s probably only a small percentage of members who’d actually take advantage of it. In fact, to date I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eating pizza or bagels on those days. It’s there if you want it, but nobody is forcing anyone to eat it if they don’t.

      For what I feel is a very reasonable cost of membership, you can get unlimited access to a facility that has pretty much all of the cardio and weight-training equipment you could need. The deluxe membership, which is still less than standard memberships elsewhere, gives you guest privileges and access to all the extras like tanning, hydromassage, and haircuts if your home facility has the on-site salon. Despite the naysayers, I quite like Planet Fitness. I posted this review almost seven months ago and still feel the exact same way as I did then. Your average, health-conscious gym-goer would be more than satisfied with Planet Fitness, which offers all the essential equipment and 24-hour access in a clean, friendly environment at a very low price.

      • beerbrewer737

        All true words. As a 50+ yo man I feel that paying $10 per month to run 10-14 miles on a treadmill or an hour on an elliptical 4 to 5 days per week is an incredible bargain.

        • I completely agree. I went for the Black Card membership so that I could have unlimited guest privileges, but with all the other stuff that’s included I’d say it’s still a great value. I was paying $25/month at Gold’s Gym just for a basic membership. That might be a reasonable price to the bodybuilders who go there to pose and watch themselves in the mirror, but I’d much prefer more bang for my buck in an environment that’s accepting and isn’t overcrowded.

    • Acquanetta Mitchell

      I enjoyed my experience, and love the gym as well. People will always have something negative to say no matter what.

      • Good point, Acquanetta. There are certainly many people who are never satisfied and seem to just enjoy being negative.

  • I apologize, Angela. I recently revamped the site and was playing with some different features. I had the same problem that you did when reading on my phone, so I’ve removed that pop-up. Feel free to give my Planet Fitness review another looksy if you’re still interested and thank you very much for letting me know.

  • Acquanetta Mitchell

    I joined planet fitness last month, and went to a location today for the first time. I enjoyed the experience very much so, and the workers were attentive to the members needs, and the atmosphere was very comfortable as well.

    • Hello Acquanetta and thanks for commenting. I’m very glad your experience was positive, too. In my experience, those who dislike Planet Fitness often cite the free pizza and bagels, lack of pool and sauna, and the “lunk” aversion as primary reasons. I wouldn’t presume to think that Planet Fitness is the perfect fit for absolutely everyone, but I honestly feel that it offers competitive value and would satisfy the needs of most people, especially your average gym-goer who simply wants to improve their health and fitness and works out a few times each week. It’s been seven months since I started my Black Card membership and I’m just as happy with Planet Fitness today as I was when I first wrote this article.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed your Planet Fitness experience so far.

  • Martha Gruber Arntson

    Have been seeing their ads running for the start of the New Year and after taking a couple of years off from “gym memberships” that get totally wasted by me, and having some medical issues, finally decided to research this place. This is what I’m looking for! I appreciate the solid facts written by the author here, all the questions I had were answered just reading his review. I also like the fact that being 58 I don’t have to “dress in spandex” to go there. I really need the hydromassage and the chairs for my neck and back issues. I think my PCP will be very pleased when I see her again and have gotten back into shape! Thanks for the post!

    • Hello Martha, I’m so glad you found my Planet Fitness review. When I wrote it, I’d wanted to answer many of the questions that I had when I was looking into getting a Planet Fitness membership myself. Also, I’d wanted to dispel some of the misconceptions and negative feedback the gym receives sometimes. Thank you very much for the praise and I hope that you enjoy your Planet Fitness membership.

  • op3mom

    So helpful. Thanks!

    • Glad you found my Planet Fitness review useful. Thanks for your praise and hopefully you enjoy the facilities at your local Planet Fitness.

  • VeteranMom

    Closest Planet Fitness to me is about 20-30 mins away. I wish there was one nearer. Sounds like a great gym.

    • I was in the same position not long ago with the closest facility being about twenty to thirty minutes away from me. However, it seems that Planet Fitness has been opening a lot of new locations in the past couple of years. There’s every likelihood that while there’s not a Planet Fitness in your town now, there could be in the very near future.

      Thanks for visiting, reading my Planet Fitness review, and commenting.

  • DonP

    Excellent read!!! I have been debating the last couple of weeks whether to join a gym or not and if so which one. You made the decision for me, I looked at planet fitness' website because my cousin is a member but I didn't get the extensive information I wanted. I did a Google search on black card perks and came along this article of yours that literally answered every question I had on my mind! Thank you sir I will definitely be joining them.

    • I appreciate your kind words, DonP. And I'm very glad to hear that my article helped you to make your decision. When I wrote it, I kept in mind the questions that I needed answered when I was shopping around for a gym. My intent was to provide a descriptive review of all the features of Planet Fitness and the differences between the two types of membership. Personally, I feel that the Black Card gives you the best value; however, if you're not interest in any of the VIP amenities—hydromassage, massage chairs, tanning, and the haircuts and total body enhancement available at certain locations—the regular, basic member is incredibly reasonable for simple, unlimited gym access.

      Again, thank you for your kind words and I hope you enjoy your Planet Fitness membership!

  • Rob Cooper

    Dane- Another perk that PF gives is to military or veterans. No usual 12 month commitment for Black Card members and no start-up fee. And thanks for the info!

    • I was unaware of that Robert, but I’m glad you’ve shared that. I’ll make a point of including that information in the review. Glad you found it useful.

  • Gary

    Great Info been thinking about joining a gym but have no clue what they offer and such. Can you wear whatever you want when going or do I have to wear some kind of workout outfit?

  • Harry

    I was in the situation. Was a gym rat in my teens and twenties. Now over 50 it fits the bill perfect. Everyone is polite and minds there own biz. Plenty of gear to stay fit and never crowded. I’m pretty built from my bodybuilding years so I wear a baggy T. Although there are some guys wearing tanks with decent builds. Slept wrong and pinched a nerve in the neck so I’m going to try the hydro message tonight for free. Also around here tanning is 10 bucks a session. Free at planet Fitness. One more thing I ate two slices of pizza after a 2 hour workout and didn’t even feel guilty… LoL. I give Planet an A.

    • Hey there, Harry. I’m thrilled to hear that Planet Fitness has been a good fit for you. It’s been close to two years since I first wrote this review and I’m still a Planet Fitness member. Not once have I been tempted to go to another gym. I know the names of most of the staff and am friendly with the manager and assistant manager. The facility is always super clean, there’s plenty of equipment available, and even the restrooms aren’t a horror like most public restrooms tend to be.

      Good luck with your health goals.

  • Ashley

    Hi Dane – question. My husband and I are considering joining this gym. I’m trying to decide which membership to get. The membership says with the black membership you get unlimited use of the hydromassage beds. Does that mean the regular members don’t get to use them at all? Or are they limited on how often they can use them? Thanks!

    • Hello Ashley, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I thought for sure I’d already responded to your comment.

      The hydromassage beds are part of what’s called the VIP area of Planet Fitness gyms. Only the Black Card membership includes use of the VIP section; guests and regular, basic memberships don’t get VIP area access. So if your husband got a Black Card and you got a basic membership, only your husband would be able to use the hydromassage beds. To my knowledge, there’s not even a pay-per-use option for non-Black Card members. The only way to use those features would be to purchase the premier membership.

      Some people have an aversion to the Black Card because of the contract. I was a little hesitant myself, but I ended up loving the gym and didn’t mind the contract. Plus, once you’ve gotten through the year contract you just go month to month.

  • Chris

    Do not upgrade to a Black Card membership unless you are absolutely sure you want it! You will be charged the full amount of a new membership to downgrade back to a normal level (in my case, this is $39). Don’t get me wrong, Planet Fitness is a great gym. They have clean facilities with plenty of exercise equipment choices and their friendly policies make even the most novice of gym-goers feel comfortable. However, their business practices leave something to be desired. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say they will lie to you about their fees to get you to upgrade, then charge you through the nose if you ever try to downgrade back to a normal membership.

  • Ramon

    If you’re looking to tell your friends and family that you joined a gym but not reap any of the real benefits of going to a gym, Planet Fitness is your go to place.

  • Hombre Gordo Con Su Madre

    I need to join asap i have a severe Chipotle craving