Planet Fitness has been trying to carve out a niche for itself as a gym where so-called normal people can exercise in a “judgment-free zone” but ironically they can’t quite seem to accomplish that goal without coming across as judgmental assholes themselves.
Their previous ad campaigns have taken aim at so-called “lunks,” who they portray as mouth-breathing troglodytes who can scarcely manage to grunt single-syllable words in between picking up heavy things and putting them down. They have a “lunk alarm,” which is a siren that sounds whenever someone grunts too loudly or drops one of the non-existent heavy weights on the ground.
The anti-grunting policy was so strictly enforced at one gym that the club’s manager actually canceled the grunter’s membership, a move that led to the exiled member being escorted from the gym by police, and later, a lawsuit that was settled for an undisclosed amount. A writer for Slate said he had been lectured by staff members for breathing too hard.
Basically, if you are serious about lifting weights, Planet Fitness doesn’t want your money. Shit, if you are serious at all about getting fit, they don’t want your money.
And yet, that wasn’t enough, as they don’t seem to be content just alienate the so-called “lunk” population. They also don’t want muscular women or trans women to patronize their services. Check out this commercial below:
Isn’t it hilarious? She’s a woman! With muscles! Which means she looks like a man! And that’s funny! Right? Right?
Except, it’s not. We live in a world where people look at a picture of a woman like Jessica Biel and say she looks “manly” because she has some shoulder muscles, where women avoid strength training – despite the numerous health benefits that strength training gives them – because they “don’t want to look like men,” where women starve themselves because our culture equates smallness with femininity. You’ll have to excuse me if I fail to find the humor in an ad that hinges entirely on the tired notion that women who lift heavy weights will be rendered indistinguishable from men.
And can we talk about the wretched transphobia of this ad? Trans women face incredibly high rates of harassment and violence as it is, and the fact that the so-called gender confusion takes place with regards to the bathroom is doubly awful, too, as bathrooms have historically been a site of violence and oppression for trans women. This ad isn’t a light-hearted joke, not when we live in a world where trans women have been beaten for using women’s bathrooms.
In this light, the refrain “dumb dumb dumb” at the end of the ad seems rather fitting, doesn’t it?