I was just watching the Daily Show and Stewart did a report on the fitness chain Planet Fitness. They are apparently offended by people who work out and, get this, make noise. They call people who breath hard or grunt lunks – and they kick them out of the gym! I’d love to hear your thoughts on their policy and how to work out silently.
Clearly there are many issues in the world more important than the anti-lunk policies at Planet Fitness, but I’m glad that the Daily Show took a few minutes to demonstrate the hypocrisy.
In case anyone missed the segment, check it out below:
Last summer, I temporarily joined a Planet Fitness gym while living in a New Hampshire treehouse. I remember the so-called lunk alarm (if you grunt too loudly, a siren sounds) and the “judgement free zone” signs posted throughout the facility. And if you’ve seen any of the planet fitness commercials, you’ll notice that they often make fun of buffer, bodybuilder types – often depicting them dumb, stereotypical and superficial. For a gym that prides itself on being judgement-free, there seems to be plenty of judgement to go around.
Hypocrisy aside, I think there’s something to be said for grunting and heavy breathing at the gym. When I’m engaged in heavy lifting, a grunt can help power me through the toughest part of an exercise – and I’m not doing it for ego, dominance or attention-seeking purposes. I’m doing it because it feels natural – and because it helps.
In fact, there has been some research on the subject. Dennis O’Connell, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and professor and chairman of physical therapy at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, led a series of studies about grunting and its effect on exercise output. According to O’Connel, “Very experienced lifters that normally grunted when they lifted did have about a 1 percent improvement with grunting.” When the research was conducted with football players, the athletes showed a 2% improvement. And untrained graduate students in the study experienced a 5% increase in output.
When the study’s findings were spread across all groups, they did not amount to a statistical significance – so no definite conclusion can be made. But since some people did experience an improvement in performance, O’Connell concluded, “I wouldn’t be trying to tell people not to grunt.”
So if the question become to grunt or not to grunt, where do you fall? And do you think Planet Fitness is being hypocritical in their approach? Let me know in the comments below.